Atomic opens office in London; first of four international offices to come

Global communications company Huntsworth, plc, announced in London today that it is providing financial, executive and logistical support to a new venture to open Atomic PR offices running Atomic-style programs outside the US. Atomic PR remains an independent agency, and is contributing similar resources to the venture, including financing, staff plus its own ComContext analytics platform, a sophisticated Web application for research, planning and program results measurement. View press release...

Atomic's London office is up and running with a starting staff of 5, including several who have worked for Atomic in Europe for more than a year, as well as 3 clients, including global security leader ArcSight, smart grid technology leader Echelon, and Roamware, a global provider of roaming solutions who selected Atomic only weeks ago. The London office is currently in talks with several other potential UK and global PR clients as well as candidates for open spots on Atomic's London team.

London is the first of four Atomic offices initially planned; others include Germany, France and Asia. London will be the hub for coordinating Atomic programs outside the US. Sandeep Kalsi, a highly experienced global PR executive and former board director of Next Fifteen Communications Group, owners of Text 100, Bite, Outcast and other PR firms, has signed on as managing director of Atomic PR Europe, working out of the London office.

There are three reasons why Atomic and Huntsworth teamed up to open Atomic offices outside the US.

  • First, a growing number of clients and potential clients would like us to be able to run Atomic style programs from Atomic branded offices outside the US, mixing analytics-fueled strategies with traditional + social media, video and SEO-supported programs in countries where we don't currently have our own offices. Like many smaller firms, we've traditionally partnered with networks of smaller, independently-owned agencies in other countries on client work outside the US. But as the size, complexity and number of our multi-country engagements has grown, collaborating with other independents has become more complicated from a management standpoint, and there are IP protection issues around sharing Atomic's analytics applications and related intellectual capital.

  • Secondly, combining our resources with those of Huntsworth gives us more financial backing, hands-on experience and logistical support that will allow us to grow our international footprint more quickly and intelligently. In addition, Atomic will leverage resources from Huntsworth's network of wholly-owned offices on an on-demand basis in countries where Atomic doesn't have its own. All of which is very good and cost-effective for Atomic clients.

  • Lastly, it's the best of both worlds: Atomic stays independent while being able to leverage the resources of a large and highly experienced agency group while we expand internationally.

A quick bit of backstory: We had been planning opening Atomic offices in London and Hong Kong on our own for more than a year. We met Huntsworth by chance, when Huntsworth business development executive Vikki Stace visited our San Francisco office.

We've been contacted regularly by companies looking to acquire agencies and we always let them know that we're not interested in being acquired. Vikki was interested in meeting anyway to see if some sort of mutual referral or other relationship might come out of it, so we got together. The chemistry was good from the start, and both sides shared plans for growth and the future. A few weeks later, Vikki invited Judy Wilks and me to Huntsworth's HQ in Marylebone while we were in London looking at potential locations for our own office there.

Vikki introduced us to a number of other senior Huntsworth execs. More visits took place over the next few months, and it percolated up that a joint venture outside the US might make sense.

Atomic's advisors, including a few top VCs we work with as well as Keith McCracken, an agency growth consultant with Results International collectively felt Atomic could move faster and more surely with Huntsworth as a partner outside the US, and soon, we felt the same way. A definitive agreement was signed this summer to form Atomic Communications Holdings, Ltd. in London with the board to be shared by Atomic and Huntsworth. Sandeep Kalsi signed on as MD shortly thereafter.

We're delighted with our new venture partners and colleagues at Huntsworth; and we look forward to seeing more of the world together. We're very pleased with the welcome our new London office has gotten from clients and prospects, even before we were able to formally announce it. And if you know solid, creative and progressive PR people or tech clients in London looking for an authentic alternative, please send them our way.


Mike Barash Commented on Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Congrats to Andy, James, and the whole Atomic team!! All agencies should strive for kind of results you deliver to clients, and the strategic thinking you bring to the table. Will be watching your growth and success across the pond and into new regions. Way to go, guys.

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