As Financial Communications Surges, a Look at Four Top PR Firms

How did financial communications—once the most snooze-inducing of disciplines—become the sexiest, sizzliest sector of PR?

Just check the news. Mergers and acquisitions make Page One. Corporate inversions are getting even penny-stock investors fired up. Activist investors like Bill Ackman and Carl Icahn have become heroes (or villains) on an operatic scale. And Alibaba’s IPO got the same kind of play as the first lunar landing.

Since there’s no such thing as a backroom deal in the social-media age, messaging actually matters to these companies now.

(Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images)

(Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images)

Firm name: Joele Frank

Think of them as: The robots in Transformers

Big battles this year: Allergan, Verizon, Herbalife, JCPenney, Hertz, Endo Int’l

What our insider says: “Joele herself came to a new-business meeting I was in. Everyone was scared of her.

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(Photo by Michael Stuparyk/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Stuparyk/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Firm name: Kekst & Company 

Think of them as: Old guy who turns out to have a black belt

Big battles this year: Jos. A. Bank, Forbes, Cutrale and Safra Groups in their proposal for Chiquita, Charter Communications, Annie’s

What our insider says: “They’ve lost a little of their luster. But they’re like the IBM of the whole group—it’s like that saying, ‘You won’t get fired if you hire IBM.’ All these firms did transactional work. Then they bolted on other services like bankruptcy. But you can’t be good at all of it.”

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(Photo by Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images)

(Photo by Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images)

Firm name: Finsbury 

Think of them as: Posh kids in fistfights

Big battles this year: AstraZeneca, Verizon, Holcim

What our insider says: “They’re not even on the radar. Robinson Lerer used to be big on bankruptcy. I think Brunswick as a brand has more cachet.”

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(Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/VF14/WireImage)

(Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/VF14/WireImage)

Firm name: Brunswick 

Think of them as: Cocktail party guests who talk at you without ever asking you about you.

Big battles this year: Alibaba, Silver Lake Management, Dollar General, Burger King

What our insider says: “They’ve become formulaic, and it’s commoditizing what they do, which is giving room to nimbler, more specialized shops. They did a second-rate job. Like any agency that gets to a certain size, they only care about big deals. Anything under a certain threshold, they just apply the formula.”

As Financial Communications Surges, a Look at Four Top PR Firms