SCORR Marketing in Kearney, Nebraska has a vibe. You can tell from the moment you walk into the front door and first see the company’s gleaming silver, diamond plated front desk. Bright teal and red play off of one another, creating contrast, but drawing you in at the same time, making one wonder what this group does. Metal, an illuminated logo and a glimpse of several desks are just the tip of the iceberg. And that’s why SCORR has been named this issue’s Entrepreneur Extraordinaire.
At the time we spoke with SCORR, the company was getting ready for its largest trade show of the year. The agency was sending 17 members of its 50-person team to Philadelphia at the end of June for DIA 2016.
DIA 2016 is the largest global interdisciplinary life sciences trade show, hosted by the Drug Information Association. It brings together thought leaders and innovators from around the world, a couple of handfuls of which SCORR supports as clients.
This year, SCORR’s team provided a presentation, worked on exhibits, promotional materials and brand recognition pieces to give its clients advantages over the competition at this worldwide event.
But SCORR offers more than trade show planning; it is a global health science marketing and communications firm.
EXPERTISE BREEDS GROWTH
SCORR President and CEO Cinda Orr started the company 13 years ago, coming out of retirement to do so.
She started with a team of two employees — herself and one other — and was based in a small office that she shared with D&S Lighting.
Today, she employs 50 people — 30 of whom are based at SCORR headquarters in Kearney. The Omaha office has 10, and the remaining 10 are dispersed across the country and world — working remotely.
When she is not jet-setting, traveling to trade shows, presentations and conferences, Orr is driving her team to succeed. She’s been described as passionate, driven and a powerhouse in the industry. Side note: She is also a fashionista, which plays into her identity in the marketing realm.
“To be successful in the health science industry, I’ve had to work harder, be smarter, demonstrate more expertise, be passionate and offer better service than my competitors, who are mainly men,” Orr said. “However, I’ve also found that I had to differentiate myself from my male counterparts in fashion. There is a strong correlation between style and creative for marketers, women in particular. ‘Style’ is an important rhetorical impression that gives confidence to clients.”
Before she started SCORR, Orr had created a strong reputation for herself. She came back into the industry which she left behind. Orr had retired when she began consulting at various trade shows. She recognized a need in the health care industry and created a company to meet those needs. Prior to starting SCORR, which is a play on her name, she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design from the University of Tennessee and spent over 25 years marketing for Fortune 500 companies.
She spent 12 years at Lincoln-based Harris Laboratories, where she later became the senior vice president of global marketing for MDS Pharma Services, after MDS acquired the company. In her time there, MDS grew to be one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical research organizations.
Orr was also integral in building G.D. Searle’s in-house agency, SECOM. Based in Chicago, Searle is best known for being the pharma company that developed oral contraceptives in the 1950s, yes, The Pill. It also launched the arthritis drug Celebrex in 1999, which was the most successful pharmaceutical launch in U.S. history, and Nutrasweet.
With the support of Orr’s expertise, SCORR entered the industry as a marketing strategist for BBCI and MDS Sciex in 2003. Shortly thereafter, SCORR was given the opportunity to rebrand and relaunch a major clinical research site management organization, Radiant Research — starting the company on its way to becoming one of the health sciences industry’s leading marketing and communications firms.
Ben Rowe has been the creative force behind SCORR for the past 12 years. He was employee No. 1 and today serves as the senior vice president and chief creative officer. Rowe, like many SCORR employees, attended college right in the company’s backyard at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He came into graphic design through his love of art.
“I really liked art as a kid, and I got the impression that if you were going to be a fine artist you were going to be a starving fine artist. So design was the most practical application,” he said. “At SCORR, particularly, you’re always doing something different and there are always new challenges to solve. You never get bored.”
Rowe leads a design team whose accolades seem to come in droves. In this year alone, the entire SCORR team has raked in over 20 awards, adding to the multitude team members already have. This year SCORR is a finalist for a Medical Marketing and Media Gold Award and will hear the results in October at a black tie event in New York.
Alongside Rowe, Krystle Buntemeyer has been with SCORR since nearly the beginning. She is the senior vice president and marketing officer. This team, in addition to the many others, have created a team worth all its praises.
All of the accolades and success have not been awarded to a firm on the East or West Coasts, but from an agency right out of the middle of the United States.
GLOBAL IMPACT LOCAL BENEFITS
SCORR Marketing is making a global impact on the health sciences industry, all from a city of 33,000.
According to Lea Studer, senior vice president of marketing and communications, SCORR thinks that’s great.
“Some people may think, ‘How does it work being in Kearney, Nebraska?’ We think it’s great because we’re smack-dab in the middle of the United States — halfway to the West Coast and halfway to the East Coast. With the way things are today, it’s not a challenge with email and the phone. We can easily jump on a plane and go see our clients,” she said.
“People really appreciate Midwest values; there’s the association of having a hard-working agency and that is true of SCORR. We’re competitive with the huge agencies based in New York or California or wherever. We hold our own.”
Orr supported Studer’s recognition of the Midwest’s accessibility. While agreeing that the company competes with agencies on Madison Avenue, Michigan Avenue and in London, Orr also expressed her high expectations for her team, which she describes as “young, trendy, innovative and creative.”
SCORR’s offices have become global over the last 13 years with satellite offices in Omaha, California, New Jersey and the UK.
Studer said the remote employees are mostly on the account side, but some copywriters also are working remotely. All new employees, regardless of their location, come to the Kearney headquarters to train with the staff for two weeks. The company also holds monthly meetings where every employee is present in person or over video chat.
People come in and out of the Kearney office as needed, and when they come into the office, their desk is waiting for them. Yes, each individual employed by SCORR has their own desk at headquarters. SCORR also holds quarterly meetings in Kearney that all employees attend in person, staying for three to five days.
SCORR is following a national trend when it comes to remote employees, or telecommuters. According to Global Workplace Analytics, “regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 103 percent since 2005.” It’s becoming easier to be a part of a team, yet not be an office-mate.
“We make a sincere effort; we’re dedicated to making this work,” Studer said. “We make sure our team members have all the materials they need and that when we’re working on projects, there’s good collaboration. Technology makes it so easy now. We’ve made an investment in all of our technology materials and also in our remote employees. We’ve found good talent so we want to make sure we keep it.”
SCORR has become an adaptable company.
Last year, SCORR began the process of rebranding, recognizing its strength as a powerhouse in the health sciences industry.
“We have had clients across the board — from small coffee shops to large construction companies — and most of these clients are locally or regionally based. As Nebraskans ourselves, we absolutely love these clients and love the variety this work offers us,” said Studer.
“However, we wanted to capitalize on our expertise in the health sciences arena, so we conducted our own market intelligence study and developed a comprehensive strategic marketing action plan — putting our own team members to work on our rebrand just as they would for our clients,” Studer added.
SCORR rooted the rebrand around its growth strategy, Studer said. “We’re focused but also expanding at the same time. We want to continue to get new business and help our existing clients grow so there’s additional business from them as well.”
The agency’s goal is to lead industry trends like marketing automation and digital messaging. Due to constant changes in the digisphere, SCORR has developed a special digital group and concentrated their services in that area.
While SCORR’s rebrand has honed in on its expertise, the company continues to work with businesses outside of the health sciences industry. “We’re happy to help anybody with their marketing and to help grow their business,” Studer explained.
LOCAL COMMUNITY IMPACT
SCORR has helped multiple local businesses develop a brand strategy or plan events. The company actively seeks out UNK graduates, currently employing 20 UNK grads. The agency participates in parades, the Kearney Chamber of Commerce and other local fundraisers. Studer said SCORR is always willing to help companies in their backyard.
With the increase in client work, SCORR helps bring those dollars into the local and state economic fold. Company employees purchase homes in the Kearney area and are active members of the community.