Ten years ago, we launched FP1. The final details of our partnership had been negotiated while eating pizza in a restaurant in Alexandria, and the big announcement was made in Politico’s Playbook – which got Terry’s last name wrong and left Jon entirely out of the lede. We were working from our kitchen tables, had no employees, and almost no clients. But we were confident that combining our backgrounds in campaign management, communications and advertising, and offering that collective expertise to both public affairs and political campaigns, was going to work.
A decade later we have more than 125 employees, 18 partners and a whole host of new services and capabilities. We work for six Fortune 100 companies and have helped elect 24 U.S. Senators, 45 members of Congress, and seven governors.
We’ve been joined by two managing partners. Rob Jesmer, who actually named FP1 and was there from the start, joined us after serving two terms as executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). Dave DenHerder left Burson-Marsteller, where he served as U.S. CEO, to help lead our growing public affairs practice, which was eventually spun off as its own brand – PLUS Communications.
Kelley Robertson, Corry Bliss, Richard Cullen, Jamie Wren and Brian Walsh have helped us turn PLUS into a nationally-recognized public affairs firm. Today we work for brands and industry leaders like Microsoft, Google, Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Charter Communications and POET. We’ve grown into a full-service public affairs firm, specializing in message development, media relations, coalition building, grassroots mobilization, event planning and more. And the results have been both humbling and rewarding, with our team receiving many of the highest accolades in the communications industry, including PRWeek Awards, PRovoke SABRE Awards and Reed Awards.
Joe Mansour, Chris Georgia, and Chandler Bair have built our digital practice from the ground up, providing advanced, data-driven digital ad buying, fundraising, web development, branding, graphic design and social media management to clients — receiving shelves full of awards while doing it. Our digital team includes some of the best in the business – and we’re never short on funny memes, pithy tweets, or smart digital strategies to stay ahead of the curve and keep our clients on top.
Trent Wisecup uses his brilliance to write ads and develop strategies. Mark Walpole left the movie set to build our unmatched production team and in-house capabilities. Stephen Szostak gets the creative on the air, driven by data and lots of experience fighting with station managers. Annie Kelly Kuhle (our newest partner) is on her way to becoming the best general consultant in America, while Chris LaCivita remains the toughest one. We have won Best in Show, Best Presidential Primary Ad, Best Senate Ad, Best Public Affairs Ad, Best Ballot Initiative Ad, Best Radio Ad and dozens of other awards for our creative. But most importantly, we have helped win a lot of races and tough fights for our clients.
A lot has changed in a decade. But our culture hasn’t – we still don’t get outworked or out-prepared. Our very first employee is still with us today, and is just as invaluable as ever. Thanks, Michelle! We’ve even spent the last year back working at our kitchen tables, although we know it won’t be long until we are all back together in our new digs. We know the best is yet to come, and we’re looking forward to another decade (or two) of big wins.
P.S. – Jon Downs refuses to release any FP1 blog post that doesn’t have a reel of our ads.