Because of social media, nothing happens in back rooms anymore, and every transaction’s under a microscope. Which is great news for PR firms that specialize in financial communications—for better or worse, a crisis-filled environment has made this a very busy year for these agencies. Here are our choices for 2018’s notable PR firms in the financial space (the top six of which also made this year’s PR Power 50).
Speaking of that, definitely spend some time with the PR Power 50, our yearly effort (which takes, pretty much, the entire year to put together) honoring the 50 PR firms that we feel have made the biggest, most exciting moves over the course of 2018.
Finsbury’s busy year included guidance for headline-makers like Eddie Lampert and Shari Redstone, along with huge assignments from pharma giant Takeda (acquired Shire, $62 billion) and Dick’s Sporting Goods, which needed guidance through its powerful, much-covered positions on gun safety. Read more about Finsbury in this year’s PR Power 50
On a nonstop growth track this year, Prosek also grabbed talent like crazy. The firm lured Edelman pros Mike Geller and Nadia Damouni, and former Nomura and Barclays head of corporate affairs Dan Hunter is now a Prosek managing director; same for Karen Le Cannu, who headed external communications for HSBC. They’re needed, as Prosek added more than 35 new clients this year, leading to a 20% revenue increase. Read more about Prosek Partners in this year’s PR Power 50
One of the world’s fastest-growing agencies—that’s what Vested claims to be just three years since launching (let’s not forget that they’re a PR company). Most of its crew is under 30, but its client list looks very grown up: Bloomberg, Morgan Stanley’s wealth-management business, BNY Mellon, Elevate Credit and the Museum of American Finance, where Vested co-founder Dan Simon is board chair. Read more about Vested in this year’s PR Power 50
Growing from two people to 10 since launching two years ago, Gasthalter in 2018 represented David Tepper in his $2.3 billion acquisition of the NFL-franchised Carolina Panthers, repped Brookfield Asset management through its acquisition 666 Fifth Ave., and much more. Read more about Gasthalter & Co. in this year’s PR Power 50
A 40% increase in the value of its announced transactions for the first half of 2018 has Brunswick buzzing this year. Former deputy Treasury secretary Neal Wolin became CEO; longtime CNBC exec Nik Deogun came aboard as CEO of the Americas and U.S. Senior Partner, and the MoMA’s ex-chief communications officer, Kim Mitchell joined up to head Brunswick’s Arts practice. Read more about Brunswick Group in this year’s PR Power 50
M&A is Joele Frank’s bread and butter—the firm’s been ranked number one in the specialty six years running by The Deal’s “Corporate Control Alert”. This year the bicoastal agency helped Broadcom, Brookfield, Bemis, Forest City and Salesforce beef up their portfolios. Frank’s also smart about getting retailers through bankruptcy—Toys ‘R’ Us, Mattress Firm and Rockport all benefited from its guidance in 2018. And from an internal standpoint, Frank excels at retaining young talent: half of the firm’s directors are under 30, and most of them have been at the firm for over five years. Read more about Joele Frank in this year’s PR Power 50
Dukas Linden’s specialty: leveraging current events to a client’s advantage. Examples include tweeting out a letter from client ARKInvest (a major Tesla shareholder) arguing against Elon Musk’s sketchy privatization scheme; promoting client Muddy Waters’ expose on “nefarious” Chinese trade practices; and, on the never-ending crisis side, advising more clients than you want to know on #MeToo issues.
Two stalwart PR firms became one this year when Kekst and CNC fused into a 12-office, four-continent powerhouse. Kekst CNC continues to handle ginormous transactions like the CVS-Aetna merger along with Fujifilm-Xerox and Dow-DuPont, and it’s still top at crisis management, from cybersecurity breaches to sexual harassers. And Kekst even loosened up this year by helping Tilray become the first cannabis company to go public on the U.S. stock exchange.
Alex Stanton already built three PR firms over his career—and now he’s hitting it big with his fourth. Stanton PR expanded to the west coast this year, acquiring the 10-person Bay Area shop Harden Communications Partners. The acquisition brought him two big insurance clients, Allianz and CSAA Insurance Group, beefing up an already healthy industry portfolio. Stanton still reps biggies Bain Capital and TD Ameritrade, and handled communications for more than 40 M&A situations over the last year.
Montieth is a “strategic communications company” that mostly operates on very deep background for Very Important Clients on issues like looted art recovery, reputation management and our favorite, “Special Situations.” Founder Montieth Illingworth this year gained footprints in Paris and Frankfurt along with NYC, D.C., and London.
While this firm was knocked off last year’s PR Power 50 (the launch of ex-exec Nathaniel Gasthalter’s outfit didn’t help) Sard roared back in 2018. It advised on big M&As, including Broadcom’s attempted hostile takeover of Qualcomm, along with the Disney-Fox merger and T-Mobile’s wooing of Sprint. A plus this year: Sard launched a public affairs practice in May. A minus: five Sard alums bolted to launch their own firm in September.