Beth Wilson can tell you exactly how long ago she launched her own boutique PR firm, Wilson Public Relations.
“Two years, two months, and fifteen days,” she told MBJ on May 15.
It was a major milestone for Wilson, the beginning of a new chapter in a career she had worked toward for years. Since then, her young business has found success, growing even more quickly than she anticipated.
And now, she’s celebrating her next milestone: Her firm is joining forces with one of Memphis’ most prominent communications companies.
Wilson PR has merged with Caissa Public Strategy, a Memphis-based strategic communications firm that has 43 employees. The move comes as Caissa prepares to take over the entire 17th floor in the Clark Tower, where it’s expanding from 9,000 square feet of space to 12,000 square feet. Wilson PR is now one of its divisions, with Wilson as division president as well as a partner and board member of Caissa.
‘Why don’t we do this more often?’
Merger conversations between the two firms began around six months ago and came about naturally. Wilson PR and Caissa had collaborated on projects in the past and worked well together. A combination made sense.
“We were just sitting and talking, and [asking] ‘Why don’t we do this more often?’” said Caissa president and co-founder Paige Walkup. “It made sense to continue to replicate what we were already doing together.”
But why did Wilson desire a merger? After all, owning her own PR firm had been a goal for a long time.
Part of her decision stems from her time running her own organization, which helped her realize just how much she enjoyed the PR side of operations: developing relationships with clients and telling their stories; providing strategic counsel from a communications standpoint; and the strategic alignment in communications.
That’s not to say she didn’t like the business operations side of the house — she did. But she felt that having access to Caissa’s “bench strength and resources” on the business operations side could help Wilson PR better serve its clients. And she wants her firm, which currently has three full-time employees and two contractors, to grow. The merger should allow it to do that.
“If I want to continue to grow this thing, I need a team around me,” Wilson said. “And so that capacity, by joining with Caissa, allows Wilson PR to do that with the amazing team that’s already here.”
‘From the beginning to the end’
The merger is also set to expand the breadth of offerings for both Caissa and Wilson PR. As Walkup noted, Caissa Public Strategy primarily focuses on issue campaigns and community engagement projects in a variety of sectors — including health care, economic development, and government — while its other division, Caissa K-12, provides strategic services and communications services for public K-12 schools.
But PR — especially the type of creative PR that Wilson’s team can tackle — hasn’t been a major component of the communications services it offers. Now, it is, and now, a client can have that type of work done by Wilson PR while still receiving the services it would usually get from Caissa.
“If we have a client — whether it’s a K-12 client or one of our corporate partners — and we’re working with them on a specific PR strategy, we can push them into Beth’s division to drive the support there, while simultaneously working on the large-scale engagement or public-school initiative,” Walkup said. “I hate to use the term one-stop shop, but that’s really what it is. We’re able to offer comprehensive solutions from the beginning to the end.”
This works both ways, as Wilson’s clients are set to have access to the large-scale community engagement, advocacy, government affairs, and crisis management work that Caissa has been doing for years.
It’s a major development for the firm she started two years, two months, and (now) sixteen days ago, and the significance of it isn’t lost on her.
“It’s really hard to put into words, but it makes me extremely proud,” she said of the merger. “I’ve written and spoken a lot about gratitude, and that’s how I lead my life. I’m insanely grateful for the opportunity, the support, and the collaboration with clients, peers, partners, and everyone who has been a part of this journey.”
This article originally appeared in the Memphis Business Journal.