Prominent PR firm winding down

KVB's 17-year run to end this month as partners plan independent paths

Katcher Vaughn & Bailey Public Relations will close its doors at the end of this month, with its three partners deciding to pursue their craft as independent consultants after laying off their handful of remaining staffers.

Aileen Katcher, who helped launch the firm in 1996, says a number of factors contributed to the decision she made along with Greg Bailey and Nancy DeKalb about a month ago. (DeKalb joined the firm in 2000.) The after-effect of the Great Recession is one, as is a broader shift in how many companies approach their marketing plans as the number of potential outlets has proliferated. The combination of those factors and others, Katcher said, means advertising and public relations professionals are increasingly having to choose between being all things to everybody and working on their own.

"Ultimately, Nancy, Greg and I are at a stage in our lives where we don't want to run a full-service firm [...] The rise of digital has blurred the lines between advertising and PR a lot," Katcher said. "To the large integrated firms, it doesn't matter where [client demand] falls."

Katcher, Bailey and DeKalb will continue to work with many of the firm's clients — which include law firm Stites & Harbison, the Nashville Health Care Council and Land Rover Nashville — but a number of transition details still need to be finalized. DeKalb is continuing her work with the local chapter of the Urban Land Institute.

Beyond the three partners, four KVB employees put in their last day of work on Friday. Katcher said the firm still has a number of short-term projects to wrap up this month but otherwise is focused on winding up its business.

"We could have ramped it up but that's not what we wanted to do," Katcher said. "I want to keep doing what I'm passionate about, which is helping clients build their brands and doing crisis communications."