Founder-owned, Austin-based PR firm sells to longtime president after 27 years

March 31, 2022

Elizabeth Christian sells PR firm to Kristin Marcum

AUSTIN, Texas—Elizabeth Christian Public Relations (ECPR), an Austin-based public relations firm led by Elizabeth Christian since its founding in 1995, has been acquired by longtime firm president Kristin Marcum. Financial details weren’t disclosed.

ECPR is known for representation of such clients as the Austin Board of Realtors, Austin Chamber of Commerce, Austin Gamblers, Downtown Austin Alliance, Google, Greater Austin Crime Commission, St. David’s HealthCare, Texas Mutual Insurance Company and Texas Water Utilities. The firm led the communication and community outreach campaign—called MLS2ATX—from 2017 to 2019 that resulted in Austin’s first major league sports team, Austin FC.

Under the new ownership, Marcum will assume the CEO title from Christian, who will serve in an of-counsel role with the firm, which will now be known as ECPR. The business’ headquarters will remain in its 8,000-square-foot building in Northwest Austin. ECPR’s leadership team includes Levente McCrary, executive vice president; Kathleen Smith, chief financial officer; and Kat Griffith, Tina Shively, Lia Truitt and Walter Zaykowski, all vice presidents.

Encore Bank Austin handled the financing. Griffin Frey, Maxwell Locke & Ritter, McGinnis Lochridge and Focus Strategies Investment Banking served as key consultants.

“Being at Elizabeth’s side over the last 20 years and helping her build ECPR has been a privilege, and now I’m humbled by this opportunity to acquire the business from her,” Marcum said. “ECPR has a reputation for our unmatched service to clients and our connection to this community. Although we do work across Texas and the country, no one knows the inside baseball of Austin like we do, and as the city evolves, the need for our services will continue to grow.”

Christian says the transition to Marcum’s ownership and leadership of ECPR was years in the making.

“We’ve known for a decade that Kristin would succeed me as owner of the firm, and the time has come to make all that succession planning a reality,” Christian said. “I’m definitely not retiring. Among my many plans is to make this transition seamless for our clients.

“I could not be happier for the opportunity to sell this firm to her because I am confident that she will preserve the legacy of the business while taking it to new heights,” Christian said.

Marcum began her tenure at the firm in 1999, first working as an intern while a student at Texas State University and then moving up through the ranks to president and firm shareholder. In addition to her leadership of ECPR, Marcum is involved in the community as a board member of United Way for Greater Austin, the Austin Ed Fund (in support of Austin ISD) and Addressing Cancer Together. She is a volunteer with the Austin Chamber of Commerce and the Human Rights Campaign. Marcum is a graduate of Leadership Austin, an Austin Area Research Organization (AARO) member and a 2016 AU40 finalist. She is a mother to 16-year-old twins and an 11-year-old son.

Christian is a fourth-generation Austinite and journalism graduate of The University of Texas at Austin. She has a four-decade career in public relations, journalism and political affairs. Christian is a vice chair of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation and past president of the Headliners Club and of the Austin Area Research Organization. She is an active member of the board of trustees of the Greater Austin Crime Commission and the Greater Austin Economic Development Corp. She has long been active with the Austin Chamber of Commerce, having served at various times as chair of the transportation, education and communications committees. Christian and her husband, the recently deceased former Austin Mayor Bruce Todd, have two grown children.

ECPR’s full list of current clients include Austin Artists Project, Austin Board of REALTORS, Austin Chamber of Commerce, Austin Gamblers, Austin Waldorf School, Card My Yard, Children’s Hospital Association of Texas, Downtown Austin Alliance, Greater Austin Crime Commission, Google, Google Fiber, Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare, Pflugerville ESD No. 2, St. David’s HealthCare, Skillpoint Alliance, Texas Health Action, Texas Library Association, Texas Mutual Insurance Company, Texas Water Utilities, The Nitsche Group, The Pitch and WorkQuest.