S4 Capital is launching its first PR offering via the acquisition of Los Angeles-based agency Low Earth Orbit.
The PR offering will be housed in S4 content agency MediaMonks, said Wesley ter Haar, MediaMonks founder and executive director at S4.
The deal was formalized at the start of the year through the acquisition of Low Earth Orbit and the hiring of the firm’s principals, founder and CEO Jessica Clifton and adviser of global marketing strategy Kevin King.
Low Earth Orbit was dissolved, its brand was retired and MediaMonks inherited all of the firm’s clients. Clifton was named head of brand and marketing advisory at MediaMonks, and King was appointed global head of brand reputation.
Clifton declined to share pre- or post-acquisition revenue for either firm or financial details about the deal.
No staffers were laid off due to the acquisition. Of the three team members listed on the Low Earth Orbit website, two were consultants who left for other opportunities at the end of last year. The third was a full-time employee who departed last summer.
“Pretty much since we started Low Earth Orbit, we had been working closely with MediaMonks across several clients,” King said. “We already had a partnership in place. We were working together all of last year and at some point [the deal] made a lot of sense.”
Clifton launched Low Earth Orbit in July 2019 with six full-time staffers after seven years at Edelman, most recently as EVP of digital and brand marketing and U.S. head of Edelman Digital. King was Citizen Relations’ global chief digital officer before joining Low Earth Orbit.
“What MediaMonks gives us is the ability to pursue our greater ambitions through the global scale of its network,” Clifton said, explaining why she agrees to the deal. “They are truly just doing the best work in digital in our minds.”
“This is really doubling down on PR and modern comms planning and our first active move in that space,” said ter Haar.
Adding PR capabilities gives MediaMonks the ability to segue between traditional comms and the digital and social activations for which MediaMonks is known, ter Haar explained. That strategy was a part of the plan Sorrell laid out in 2018 when he said his company would eventually buy a PR agency.
However, unlike other holding companies, S4 does not plan to house separate PR agencies, but will instead provide earned media as a core service offering.
“When you look at traditional networks at the legacy holding companies, the competition is the issue,” ter Haar said. “We’re here not to fight but to consolidate and be a single team. We don’t think it should be separated in the way it currently is.”