AFO Group Expands To The US

(MENAFN- PRovoke) LONDON - The AFO Group has expanded to the US, hiring broadcast PR and media relations specialist Melissa Cruz to lead the new venture.

The opening of a New York office is the group's first move in North America, ahead of a series of planned acquisitions in multiple states. AFO – which rebranded from Markettiers4DC last year after investment from Waterland Private Equity – is already billing around $3 million a year in the US.

Cruz (pictured) joins from Cision, where she was a senior media relations strategist, managing media tours for clients such as Ketchum, Ogilvy and Merck and developing earned broadcast strategies for brands across the entertainment, non-profit, pharmaceutical and lifestyle sectors. Cruz has also worked in event production, and in post-production for the likes of HBO and Jim Henson Productions.

AFO Group CEO Howard Kosky told PRovoke Media the US has been on the radar for the group since Waterland took a majority stake:“It's been driven by client demand. We can service a lot of our US work in the UK – through our Sassy Create content production brand we do a lot of film premieres in the UK, working with film distribution companies on the West Coast, plus clients like LinkedIn in San Francisco– but we need resource on the ground while we're looking at acquisitions in areas like the West Coast and Austin.

“We have a seven-year-plus strategy and we're not holding up growth waiting for the right M&A deal: we're looking for the right people and the right fit, and while we want to move quickly, we will only do the right deals.”

On the potential market opportunity in the US, Kosky said:“It's a massive market and they have never really explored broadcast in the way we supply it as specialists. The biggest part of our US revenue is for data and insights – it's phenomenal. They also really get content production and live streaming, as virtual events are a much bigger market in the US. I wouldn't bet against the long-term bulk of our business being US-based.”

Of Cruz' appointment as client director in the US, Kosky said:“We recruit people based on aptitude, attitude and personality, and Melissa has loads of energy, positive and drive. She's fabulous, and a breath of fresh air.”

Cruz added: "I am thrilled to join the team as we venture into the US market and take another step towards the ongoing mission to become the global leader in insightful, data-driven communications. My goal is to build the level of success in the States that AFO and their family of companies have seen in the UK, Dubai and abroad by creating a model inspired by their 30 years of excellence while congruently meeting, and exceeding, the needs of American clients and broadcast audiences.

“Bringing AFO Group's legacy of delivering dynamic content over to the US is a natural progression and I am proud to be a part of the journey."

As well as Sassy Create, the 250-strong AFO Group's agencies include broadcast PR specialist Markettiers, international market research consultancy Censuswide, content production agency Through The I, media organisation
Radio News Hub, podcast consultancy 4DC, data and insight specialist Opinion Matters and marketing strategist Hollr.



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