The Holmes Report Card 2013


Creative boutique with strong media relations capabilities and food and beverage expertise


It would be nice to think the myth that clients need a big agency with a New York presence to consistently secure top-tier media placements has long been laid to rest, but just in case it still persists there's Kohnstamm Communications, which provides conclusive proof that a boutique firm in the Midwest can deliver first-class traditional and digital media results. The firm also regularly demonstrates that a small Twin Cities firm can beat out big agencies from larger markets in the competition for Fortune 500 clients. And now, following the addition in 2012 of former General Mills brand PR director Greg Zimprich as senior VP of strategic insight and agency operations, Kohnstamm had demonstrated its ability to add top talent and offer a suite of strategic, integrated services.Agency founder Josh Kohnstamm cut his teeth at Hill & Knowlton, where his clients included Mall of America, Eastman Kodak, and Mazda, before launching his own firm in 1991. Growth has been steady since then, but accelerated in 2012 so that the firm ended the year up by almost 30 percent, with 25 percent of revenues now coming from social media work.

Best known for its work in the food sector, which continues to drive much of the firm's growth, Kohnstamm has expanded to include clients in real estate and professional services and other areas. New business in 2012 came from Boulder-based Noosa Yoghurt and Way Better Snacks and Dr. Praeger's Sensible Foods, both of New York; from London-based Global Integration and Fay Ranches, a large-track real estate franchiser based in Montana. They join a roster that included 3M Food Safety, MOM Brands, and the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business, Cascades Tissue Group, (a leading recycled material manufacturer.) McCormick's Thai Kitchen brand, and the Soyfood Association of North America. 


For challenger brand MOM Brands, in a pitched battle with Post and Quaker in the cereal category, Kohnstamm created two notable campaigns: the clever "Choice of a New Generation" reboot, which saw the old Pepsi tagline was heisted (legally) and helped position the once-stodgy Malt-O-Meal brand as a social media renegade; and the "12 Layers of Happiness" partnership with Oprah contributor Dan Baker for the client's wheat product. For Cascades, the firm introduced Moka, the nations first beige, 100 percent recycled bathroom tissue, with a Wall Street Journal exclusive, and for 3M's food safety division the firm launched a campaign that was celebrated at the company's shareholder meeting for industry leadership and dynamic growth.

"We needed a dedicated team of strategic PR pros who could adeptly handle product launches of complex technologies within a sprawling Fortune 500 corporate structure and my team at Kohnstamm is able to reliably deliver exceptional PR no matter what the situation, timing or context," says Mary Kokkinen, PR manager for 3M Healthcare.

Clients have increasingly requested Kohnstamm to book media tours and interviews in Europe, Asia and Latin America. In response, Kohnstamm stepped up its global reach, with real-time online databases and worldwide PR partners. - PH