Following 15 years of continuous growth, the Barnes Agency headquartered in downtown Huntington announced last week plans for a new healthcare division and a new location in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Our growth has provided increased opportunities,” said Jeffrey Barnes, president and chief executive officer of the company. “We are both retaining existing clients and growing new clients. This rapid growth means we can create additional jobs, create a new health care division and start a new location in Nashville.”
Barnes said his agency is only one of a handful of strategic marketing firms in the country that specializes in working with clients in the healthcare provider industry that includes hospitals, healthcare systems and physician group practices.
“Our footprint in healthcare is rapidly expanding outside West Virginia,” Barnes said. “We are now doing marketing for hospitals throughout the country.”
For example, the agency has represented South Texas Health System and Edinburg Regional Medical Center, both located in Edinburg, Texas, as well as the McAllen Heart Hospital in McAllen, Texas, and the Autism Society of America, based in Washington, D.C.
Barnes said he and his current staff have become experts in creative marketing and design.
“We have developed a digital marketing product that is specific to the hospital industry and we are hiring people that have a healthcare marketing background,” he said. “Since health care represents about 80 percent of our revenue as an agency, so as a result we are establishing this completely separate division called Barnes Agency Healthcare. This division will focus exclusively on our healthcare clients.”
Nashville In the Future
Barnes also announced that a new location in Nashville is in the agency’s future. He says that city is one of the fastest growing in America.
“Around 3,000 people a month are moving to Nashville,” he said. “Tremendous growth is taking place there. Nashville is the health care management capital of the United States. Our specialization in healthcare makes us a great fit for that area.”
Barnes said the new Nashville location will work exclusively with healthcare clients.
“I want to experience life in a growth market, like Nashville,” he said. “We have a large healthcare public relations firm in Nashville that is interested in partnering with us as well. I want to take our work ethic that we created in Nashville and see how well it is received.”
Currently, the plan is to open the new Nashville location sometime in January 2019, Barnes added.
He said hopes to learn the things creating growth in Nashville and bring it back to Huntington.
“Anything that I can learn from those experiencing life in a growth market that would benefit my home state of West Virginia, and where our headquarters are in Huntington, I want to share that information,” he said.
The Barnes Agency now employs eight people, but with the new division and the Nashville office, that number might double, he said.
History of the Agency
“I launched Barnes Agency in May 2003 in Teays Valley as a full-service advertising, marketing and public relations firm,” Barnes said.
Prior to creating his own agency, Barnes had a career in healthcare marketing and public relations.
“I lived in Huntington for 10 years and was vice president of marketing and public relations at St. Mary’s Medical Center,” Barnes said. “After Genesis Healthcare was formed, I was over four regional hospital systems. I was appointed the first system vice president of marketing and public relations.”
About 6 years ago the Huntington office was opened and three years later the Barnes Agency headquarters and overall operations were moved to the city. Following the move, the agency’s number of clients and scope of work has increased significantly.
“Since we relocated to Huntington, our revenue as an agency has doubled,” Barnes said. “To be a part of the revitalization that is happening in Huntington has been a wonderful experience. It has also allowed us to become increasingly philanthropic in recent years, giving and supporting very worthy causes.”
New Technologies Put to Work
Barnes said consumers today obtain information differently than they did 10 years ago.
“What we have learned is that it’s critically important that we stay up to date and current with how they are getting that information,” he said. “While traditional media platforms are still important, we are noticing a trend of increased marketing on digital platforms. We are also seeing an ongoing social media evolution that expands even beyond just Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so we explore every media platform known to get our clients’ message out about who they are, what they do and what makes them special unique and different.”
Barnes said in the past, the agency may have produced a video commercial for television, but today that same video production can be placed on clients’ websites and other marketing, digital and social media platforms.
“There are so many advances in advertising technologies that didn’t even exist when we started the agency 15 years ago,” he said.
Over its 15-year history, the Barnes Agency has won over 450 national and regional awards in advertising excellence.
“Being recognized nationally for your work is a compliment to our organization and our hard-working staff,” Barnes said.
Barnes said the agency was recently notified that it had won 11 national “Telly Awards” for video production excellence.
“These awards are a direct reflection of the quality of clients Barnes Agency represents and how they empower us to be creative and allow us to think outside the box,” Barnes said. “Our team is extremely humbled to have received this amazing number of Telly Awards in one year.”
Agency’s Objectives Remain the Same
Barnes said while the awards are meaningful to the agency, the primary objective remains the same, which is to help organizations grow revenue.
“If it’s a bank, we want to help them grow customers, if it’s law firm, we want to help them grow more clients, if it’s a college or university, we want to help them grow student enrollment, if it’s a hospital, we to help them grow more patients,” he said. “Our organization exists to help companies grow volume and revenue.”
Barnes said that is done is many different ways.
“Traditional advertising is one way that we accomplish our clients’ objectives, but there are various formats including newspaper, radio, television, billboards, the Internet, social media and event planning,” Barnes said. “Also, digital is an increasingly growing aspect of advertising.”
Barnes said public and media relations are also important aspects of the agency.
“We work hard on behalf of our clients to make sure that things that are happening within those organizations are getting their stories told on various platforms,” he said. “We want them to meet their goals and objectives.”
Staff and Internship Program
Barnes said the agency’s vice president and chief operating officer, his spouse Susan Barnes, is the engine of the agency.
“Our success in maintaining clients is a direct result of her joining the agency 10 years ago,” he said.
Barnes also gave credit to his entire staff for the agency’s success.
“Our staff is dedicated, loyal and work hard,” he said.
Barnes said the agency also has had success with its paid internship program through Marshall University. He said two of his most dedicated employees, Lindsey Ross and Hannah Saxton, came to the agency through the internship program.
“We were so pleased with their talent and work ethic that we hired them full time, and they both continue to grow and prosper,” he said. “This program continues to provide tremendous opportunity for identifying prospective employees, which we have a history of hiring.”
Kasidi Legg, a senior at Marshall who is majoring in marketing, is a current intern at the agency.
“I am getting to do a lot of hands-on things and getting to put the things I have learned in the classroom to work here at the Barnes Agency,” she said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for me and I am so thankful for it.”
Barnes said the Huntington location is in the heart of Marshall University’s creative space.
“Our headquarters is on the ground floor of the Marshall University’s Visual Arts Center in downtown Huntington,” Barnes said. “We are in a perfect location for creativity and our motto on the wall here is ‘Creativity Lives Here,’ so I believe this is a perfect venue for our creative agency.”