About

Welcome to Agency H5.

Welcome to Agency H5. We are a fully integrated marketing communications agency — rooted in public relations. We are connectors. We are brand builders. We are storytellers. Through traditional engagement, digital influence and experiential strategies, we share our clients’ stories to the right audiences at the right time to ensure they are heard and, better yet, shared. We are savvy, nimble marketers who believe an insight must inform every creative output to deliver optimal results. We are storytellers at heart. So, let us quickly tell you ours.

 

HOW WE GOT STARTED 

Our beginnings were as humble as they come: In January 2001, founder Kathleen Sarpy left behind her “big agency job” to achieve better work/life balance as a young mom. She dreamt of creating a place that let her continue doing award-winning work without ever apologizing for keeping her kids a top priority in her uber-busy life. So, she founded a PR consulting practice that quickly attracted big brands as clients and talented PR practitioners as employees seeking their joy outside of the global agency grind.

Over the past 18 years, without outside investors or a parent company, Henson grew the agency known as Henson Consulting out of her suburban basement and eventually into the 11,000-square-foot riverside office we currently call home. The firm that once started as one-woman show now employs nearly 50 talented team members and boasts a client roster that features a mix of local, regional and global clients like Pampered Chef, the National Funeral Directors Association, Destination Kohler, Dairy Farmers of America and Storck sweets.

In January 2018, Henson rebranded Henson Consulting as Agency H5. The name change reflects the company’s evolution from a traditional public relations firm into a fully integrated marketing agency and the strength of a team that’s truly “one of a KIND.” What’s with the “5”? Well, it stands for our five core values (kindness, passion, creativity, integrity and hustle) and is a subtle homage to Henson’s five children, the initial reason she first started the agency nearly two decades ago. And the “H”? It stands for Humanity – everyone we work with and for must match our core values and find their joy outside of work. And, we find that when that happens, we’re all Happy, too.

Here at Agency H5, we do it all — and we’ll proudly do it for you. We get strategic and creative to get results. After all, reaching people is good. Touching hearts is better. Changing minds is best.

WHO IS KATHLEEN?

For more than 25 years, Kathleen Kenehan Sarpy has enjoyed a diverse career in public relations and marketing, working with the world’s most recognizable brands, and remained a driving force behind emerging start-ups and non-profits. With unrivaled energy and enthusiasm, Kathleen expertly connects people, events and ideas to generate meaningful and lasting impact.

A former senior leader at the leading global PR firm, Kathleen left her “big agency” life behind in January 2001 after the birth of her first child to launch her own shop. Alone in her suburban basement armed with only a laptop and a lot of goodwill, Kathleen’s goal was simple: offer world-class strategy and creativity to the world’s most respected companies by eliminating bureaucracy without ever sacrificing kindness. Nearly 20 years later, Kathleen now manages a team of more than 40 staffers in a vibrant downtown office overlooking the Chicago river. She’s also never lost sight of the “5” in her company’s name that remain the cornerstone of her business: kindness, creativity, passion, hustle and integrity.

Throughout its evolution, Agency H5 has been recognized alongside the best firms in the country, winning National Small Agency of the Year and Best Place to Work by PR News multiple times. Her value-driven agency ranked #11 among Top Company Culture’s in America by Entrepreneur.com and has been recognized as a Best Place to Work by Crain’s Chicago Business in 2018 and 2019. Personally, Kathleen has been named PR Professional of the Year by PRSA Chicago and nationally among Top Women in PR by PR News and Entrepreneur of the Year by Fifth Third Back and the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago. She’s regularly featured as an expert voice on outlets like NBC (including “Today”), CBS Chicago, PR News and PR Week. Believing that life teaches you lessons that must be shared to inspire and empower others, she frequently contributes to NBC.com’s BETTER platform on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to motherhood. A fierce advocate for protecting kindness in the workplace, she also has contributed to several books on the topic including: Kindness in Leadership (Gay Haskins, 2018), Chicago Lights (Abigail Zoe Martin, 2018) and the upcoming Culture Stories from Inspiring Leaders (Greg Besner, 2020).

Beyond her office walls, Kathleen gives back by proudly supporting a number of local philanthropies that reflect her dedication to the city and the communities it serves including Breakthrough Urban Ministries, Enchanted Backpack, the Joffrey Ballet’s Women’s Board, Ronald McDonald House Charities and the United Way among many others. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Purdue University, she founded the International Council of Purdue Women in 2017 to unite, motivate, engage and inspire 200,000 alumnae worldwide.

However, her biggest and proudest achievement to date is being a mother of six incredible children ages 10-19. She resides in Wheaton, Illinois with her husband Chris and a bustling household of kids and an uncooperative English Bulldog named Hope.

Agency Practice Groups

Find your voice, refine your message, amplify your volume

Consumer Marketing

For nearly two decades, some of the world’s most well-known companies have worked with us to drive business results, enhance reputation and create excitement around product launches, brand revitalizations, category expansions and more. Fueled by research, we have developed and flawlessly executed highly creative programs across countless sectors including CPG, beauty, retail, fashion, technology, home, real estate, food, beverage & nutrition and beyond.

Digital, Social & Influencer Engagement

Our digital and content specialists are embedded across the account teams to ensure consistency and amplification of all client programs. We construct the right mix of breakthrough content and smart paid, earned and owned digital strategies. As experts in the field, we guide clients through the landscape, combining old school wisdom with fresh, innovative approaches. Simply, we’ve cracked the code.

Travel & Hospitality

From Chicago to the coasts and beyond, we’re experts in making connections through our personalized approach to visual storytelling and content development. Through our longstanding media relationships and influencer partnerships, we know how to reach tourists, business travelers, visitors and locals alike to deliver the perfect message.

CSR & Nonprofit

In order to be truly successful in today’s market, a company must take a meaningful stand on social issues. We have the experience and connections to help our clients identify the right partners, whether long-term or through a one-time program activation, to help make an impact. At the end of the day, we all want to leave this world a better place than we found it, and doing good can be good for business.

Events & Experiential

Think of us as social engineers. We build the immersive experiences — whether it’s a party, a pop-up, a takeover or something totally new — and then bring an activation to life to allow influencers and media an opportunity to experience a once in-a-lifetime moment with a brand.

 

Reputation Management & Corporate Communication

We protect, strengthen and maximize your brand’s influence and build trust and respect with your audiences — after all, a brand is only as good as its reputation. Our team helps clients anticipate, prepare for and manage issues and the potential unfortunate events that affect their reputation. And when an incident happens, H5 team rapidly provides the strategic counsel and expertise to ensure that clients respond in a timely manner to achieve the best possible outcome.