Parker Philips: Merging High-Impact Consulting and Creativity
Women-owned business offers a multitude of consulting services
When Nichole Parker and Kate Philips recognized a gap in the economic impact analysis market, they knew their combined talents could not only bring success to any business they began, but also to other businesses in need of their services – this was the catalyst for the creation of Parker Philips.
"We decided our combined expertise could lead to an innovative new product," Philips stated. "The Parker Philips economic impact study combines numbers, narrative, and creativity, which has become a gold standard in the industry."
Prior to the launch of the company, successful economic impact studies from firms across the country were mainly composed of a slew of numbers and Excel spreadsheets in document format, something that Parker Philips sought to transcend. "By combining my communications and marketing expertise with Nichole's data analysis and research expertise, we created a market-facing, professionally designed report that dug below the surface of quantitative analysis to help our clients tell their stories," said Philips.
Parker (company president) and Philips (CEO), both native Erieites, have a long history together. Having attended Iroquois High School a few years apart, they became close friends after college. In her twenties, Philips served as press secretary to Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, while Parker led an economic impact practice for a Pittsburgh-based consulting firm. Their professional paths often crossed in their thirties. At the time Parker Philips was created, Philips had just relocated back to Erie after 15 years away and Parker was living in Minneapolis (she has since relocated to Erie).
As a women-owned, 12-person team, Parker Philips leads marketing and public affairs work for dozens of clients, with a robust research and consulting arm producing defensible products on behalf of clients nationwide. "We are rooted in excellence and quality, with many of our clients coming to us when they are seeking a way to make complex narratives easier to understand," Philips explained. "We don't deliver cookie-cutter consulting; we create momentum and build the case by developing a winning narrative and staying on message. We understand how to move public policy, expand market share, and advance ideas through well-rounded research, clear communications, distinctive design, and customized content … what separates us from the competition is that we can work from the grassroots to the grasstops – whatever your budget, we get results."
Parker Philips offers a multitude of services, some of which have evolved and changed over the years. "We are a full-service consulting firm that has now grown its service lines and skill sets," Parker stated. "From a marketing and communications perspective, we offer the full array of services from websites to social media management, event planning to public relations, and also crisis communications. Our research and economic impact side competes with top firms around the country to win RFPs [requests for proposal] because our work is rooted in academic training but written for a broader audience."
With clients all over the country, Parker Philips has found that preferences can differ drastically, from the work they request to the format of the work. "We were a virtual firm prior to the pandemic, so working nationally has always been built into our model," Philips said. "In fact, when I moved back to Erie 10 years ago, I didn't have a single client here." She continues, "Our time in Erie and quality of life have increased dramatically since the pandemic, as most clients are very comfortable forgoing the in-person meetings we used to travel to accommodate. We still travel to clients, but try to utilize every available technology to optimize our time and our clients' resources."
Both in and out of Erie, the firm has worked with dozens of nonprofit, government, and corporate clients, offering the services best suited to each entity's needs. "From PA Association of Broadcasters and University of Pittsburgh to University of Washington and the Minnesota State system – which includes 30 colleges, 7 universities, and 54 campuses – we offer the same expertise to every client, large and small," Parker stated. "Here in Erie, we've worked with clients from ECGRA to VNET, the County of Erie to ReJuv, and more. Our firm did the feasibility study for the Erie Community College and helped craft the campaign that ended in Erie County becoming the local sponsor – we were particularly proud of that victory."
Working within the community is a big part of Parker Philips' mission as well, both in the firm's work and among their employees. "Part of our ethos is to encourage civic and community service, as we firmly believe it is vital to the fabric of our communities," Philips stated. "We give each of our employees $500 to contribute to a nonprofit that they personally believe in, and we offer our employees eight hours paid time to perform community service." In embodying this mission, Parker currently serves on the Iroquois School District Foundation Board as treasurer, while Philips serves as Chair of the Redevelopment Authority of Erie County as well as on the boards for the Police Athletic League and the Erie Zoo, and Children Matter Action Fund — a statewide entity dedicated to advancing policies that increase the life chances of children.
Although Parker and Philips are currently at the forefront of the business, they know the future of their company is bright because of their employees: "The future is less and less about Nichole and me, and more about the amazing employees we have – young rising stars like Mary Wassell (one of the Erie Reader's 40 Under 40 class of 2023), Julia Ferritto, and Abby Harris, road-tested professionals like Kristi DelGrande and Kate Nash, and quiet, behind-the-scenes creators like Chris Stuart, Tori Townsend, and Kyle McMillen," said Philips.
The health and happiness of their employees is something Parker Philips takes seriously: "Nichole and I have worked hard to create a firm with outstanding health and employment benefits, and a flexible work environment rooted in respect and hard work," Philips emphasized. "Our firm also prides itself on paying fair wages to all our employees, including our interns."
As certified "Swifties," the team at Parker Philips completed an economic impact study this summer of #Swiftenomics and the impact of Taylor Swift's shows from her most recent U.S. tour. "This research was exciting and allowed our entire team to collaborate from the research and economic analysis side to the creative and communications side," Parker explained. "Our summer intern Nick Devlin got to exercise his Penn State research chops and learn how to take a study from beginning to end. Our impact of $4.6 billion was right on track with the Federal Reserve, but is still a conservative number."
As for the immediate future, Parker Philips has some exciting projects in the works, including working with the Erie Community Foundation to tell their story: "Getting the opportunity to work with such an impactful and respected Erie institution is a real pride point for our team," said Philips. They are also weeks away from launching an economic impact study for the Erie Philharmonic – stay tuned!