Connolly & Co. expanding to new
space, adding staff
San Antonio Business Journal, August 12, 1999
T.J. Connolly, in a rare (for these
days) interview, says his company is expanding and adding new
staff. First to join is Brooke Connolly who is leaving her position
at the Adams Mark Hotel and taking one of the hotels most coveted
projects with her to join her husband at the Connolly & Company
"When T.J. started the company,
we talked about whether I wanted to get involved," explains
Brooke. "We left it open as a possibility, and for the last
six months or so he has been bringing it up again. I have done
a lot of marketing and I was able to identify numerous areas where
I could have an impact. It really became obvious to both of us
that it would be a good idea for me to join his company."
Her project for the hotel through
November is the popular Seasons of Community Giving event. "The
project originated even before the hotel opened," says Brooke,
who was with the hotel for two years. "Seasons of Community
Giving raises more than $50,000 each year for local charities
in in-kind and cash donations."
Brooke hit the ground running by
landing a second client (a restaurant) in her first week on the
job. "We just completed the marketing plan for the restaurant
and are ready to get the final go-ahead to start implementation."
And if that's not enough, the new mother says she is also acting
as "general contractor" for the company's new office
The agency, with six employees, will
move into new space by mid-September. The 1,200-square-foot leased
space is next to the former Barcelona's Café conveniently
located in the middle of Alamo Heights on Broadway. Connolly plans
to top out the agency at nine employees sometime next year.
Bradfield Properties, San Antonio's
largest real estate firm, has just celebrated its first anniversary
as a client of Connolly & Co.
T.J. says the firm still has all
the original clients on its account rooster. And they've added
National Bank and Trust, which relocated to San Antonio from La
Grange, and Carter-Burgess, the largest engineering firm in Texas,
which recently opened an office here. Other active accounts include
professional services ranging from a law firm and architectural
firm to physicians.
"A year ago, I thought we were
building a PR firm," says T.J. "But now we've grown
into all areas marketing, advertising, as well as PR. Were strategic
partners with our clients. We are now a full-blown, full- service
"Our clients tell us they want
a relationship with a firm that can do the PR, the advertising
and the marketing," he adds. "Many companies find medium-sized
firms more effective and more responsive from a customer service
standpoint. We offer clients our availability on a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week
basis. And they've tested us on it. One client called in the wee
hours Sunday morning just to see if he would be able to reach
me. He did."
After spending 15 years on the corporate
side hiring PR agencies and advertising firms, T.J. doesn't want
to just sit behind a desk doing paperwork. "I want to have
a real hands-on policy and service the accounts from media relations
to setting editorial board meetings and more," he adds.
In emphasizing client service, T.J.
says he asks his staff to do what the client asks for and think
ahead to provide the next level of service. "This means clients
will realize more value and more return on the money they spend
with our agency," he adds.
T.J. says the trend in agencies is
"similar to Katie Brickman's."
"She's built a wonderful firm
and she's holding to eight or nine people," T.J. says. "I
think the future for San Antonio agencies will be smaller firms.
Were keeping our prices at the middle or a step below mid-range
to keep from pricing ourselves out of the market.
"I was told the second year
in business is the most difficult," T.J. adds. "But
were working even harder this year and we had a phenomenal first
year in gross billings."
To continue the momentum, Connolly
& Co. will add graphic designer, Tracy Taylor Ochoa, to the
agency as a strategic partner. She will continue to manage and
operate her own graphic design firm, Taylor Ochoa Design, and
be the exclusive designer for Connolly & Co. She will also
share office space with the agency.
The companies have worked well together
for more than six months, T.J. says, and the idea to partner grew
out of that relationship.