The Power List

The Best PR Firms in America 2022

Here is the Observer’s annual list of the 50 best PR firms in America.

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2021 was supposed to be the year that things returned to "normal," assuming anyone could remember what normal looks like. With COVID variants and historic inflation, it turned out a little differently. But what impressed us about the companies on this year's list is that they surpassed normal; in so many cases they have used their creativity and their intelligence to find new lines of business and blaze new trails. It's a dazzling mix of familiar industry faces with some fast-moving newcomers. Meet the best. (View the Rising Stars list here.)

1. BerlinRosen

  • Jonathan Rosen, principal & co-founder; Valerie Berlin, principal & co-founder
  • HQ: New York

BerlinRosen tops our list for the second time, which no agency has ever done.  It’s hard to argue with A-list client growth (Bloomberg Intelligence, Westfield, MeToo, Mozilla, One Vanderbilt, Macy’s, Via), solid revenue growth (25% over 2020), and an expanding headcount (to 253 this year, from 203 last year).  The firm’s affecting the world with highly praised comms support for causes like the 15% Pledge, SisterSong, the Fight for $15, and GLAAD, along with potent work for a range of reproductive-health campaigns.  BerlinRosen’s even had a hand in key election campaigns, including NYC Comptroller Brad Lander and Philly DA Larry Krasner. Co-founder Jonathan Rosen was one of the brains behind the NY FOREVER campaign, which gave a push to Gotham’s pandemic-era morale.  Megaclients like Silverstein Properties, Samsung, NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, and Audible are stalwarts.  For all those reasons, and others we barely have space for, BerlinRosen is our agency of the year.

Courtesy company mmarco

2. 42West

  • Amanda Lundberg, CEO
  • HQ: New York

As agency of record for Bond blockbuster No Time To Die, this entertainment powerhouse helped engineer one of the year’s big pop-culture moments.  Working with every streamer, the firm had its own boffo year again with nearly every studio and at every major festival; 42West opened the doors for the new bi Superman’s coming-out for longtime client DC Comics, collaborated on its eighth Oscar Best Picture campaign with Nomadland, oversaw Emmy campaigns for 3 majors, and repped talent on both sides of the screen, from showrunners Mike White, Kenya Barris and Gloria Calderon-Kellett to producers Shawn Levy and Nina Jacobson to the #1Toms – Hanks and Cruise, top streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, plus Karen Elson and a couple of Coca’s—Rocha and Team Coco (O’Brien)…2021 saw the firm more than double its crisis, media training and corp work, making hay with Fandom, BOND, Turner and Riot Games. After buying gaming agency B/HI, 42West parent Dolphin Entertainment made it a division of 42West and the firm gained more juice in the massive gaming, esports, and NFT category this year with clients from NPX Capital, Doodle Labs, AndBox, to Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Mattel Games.

Courtesy company mmarco

3. Alison Brod Marketing Communications

  • Alison Brod, owner and co-founder
  • HQ: New York

Let’s just say it:  Alison Brod’s firm is producing some of the most imaginative, effective, and influential work in the business.  Just when we thought the firm couldn’t top last year’s Popeye’s chicken-sandwich mania, Brod’s team gave the world Burger King’s Moldy Whopper campaign; weds Kraft Mac & Cheese with Van Leeuwen to create a viral ice-cream flavor; dreamed up Panera’s insane “bread-bowl” hand-warmers; and generated 3.2 billion impressions for Popeyes by purchasing a million chicken nuggets from competitors.  The agency also promoted Justin Bieber’s Timbits collab with Tim Horton’s; announced RBI’s acquisition of Firehouse Subs; and killed it with Panera’s Iced and Toasty campaign.  It’s not all fast food:  Along with giants like L’Oreal, ABMC executed Old Navy’s groundbreaking Bod-Equality campaign this year.

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4. SKDK

  • Josh Isay, CEO
  • HQ: Washington, DC

Was there a bigger assignment in 2021 than helping Pfizer raise public awareness around its Covid vaccine rollout?  That brief went to SKDK, whose partner, Anita Dunn, topped last year’s PR Power 50.  Handling one of the year’s most sensitive situations, the firm partnered with attorneys representing more than 1,000 victims of alleged abuse by the Boy Scouts; let’s just say the Scouts didn’t win the perception battle in that one. The firm also rallied to bring the Less is More Act to Governor Hochul’s desk with New Yorkers United for Justice (NYUJ) to reduce incarceration and racial bias in the parole system. Beyond trad media relations, SKDK worked with massive activist coalition Climate Power on more than 130 TV spots to push for President Biden’s climate agenda. SKDK’s tome-like list of clients includes AT&T, the Robin Hood Foundation, Mount Sinai Health System and Memorial Sloan Kettering.

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5. The Lede Company

  • Sarah Rothman, Amanda Silverman, Meredith O'Sullivan Wasson, Christine Su, cofounders and co-CEOs
  • HQ: Los Angeles

We’ll let the names do the talking for this three-year-old heavyweight.  People:  Rihanna, Reese Witherspoon, Will Smith, Idris Elba, Nicole Kidman, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga.  Brands:  adidas Pharrell Williams, Audi, WhatsApp, Isabel Marant, Thom Browne, Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty, Violet Grey, Virtue, Netflix, Everlane, and Foot Locker. Content: The Power of the Dog, The Lost Daughter, Gossip Girl, Cruel Summer, and The Harder They Fall. Corporate:  Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine, Illumination, Live Nation, Jada and Will Smith’s Westbrook Inc., Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Network and Univision. Oh, and the firm’s revenue and headcount grew by 50%.

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6. Finn Partners

  • Peter Finn, founder and managing partner
  • HQ: New York

Finn just had the best quarter in its ten-year history.  Sound familiar? We said the same thing in 2019, when Finn Partners was our top agency of the year, but that was before a pandemic turned business upside-down.  This freight train of a firm is on track to hit 50% growth by year’s end, adding $30 million to its bottom line through wins and organic growth.  Among its new clients:  Fan Controlled Football, Trip.com, Michigan Economic Development Corp./Pure Michigan, Honeywell, Bolthouse Farms, and The Body Shop, who all join a worldwide client list too packed to mention here.  Finn continued vacuuming up smaller firms, including NYC travel shop Hawkins International PR, UK’s InHealth Communications, and Seattle tech firm Barokas.  Key hires included luxury maven Steve DeLuca, former publisher of AmEx’s Departures and Centurion mags.

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7. Prosek

  • Jennifer Prosek, managing partner
  • HQ: New York

In the rarefied world of financial PR, Prosek continues to operate in its own stratosphere. This year, along with advising on more than 35 go-to-market transactions, Prosek counseled Britney Spears’ co-conservator Bessemer Trust, and worked on financial communications for Levi’s, the creation of the new public alternatives manager Blue Owl, the restructuring and IPO of Hertz, and marketing work for ICE, the owner of the NYSE. Prosek’s SPAC work included media company DNZ, led by former Bloomberg anchor Betty Liu, CEA Space - as in outer - and the launch of Colossal, a start-up focused on “de-extinction”, including bringing the woolly mammoth back to life. Good luck with that one. Major hires include Joan Vollero, Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr.’s former comms lead.

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8. Rogers & Cowan PMK

  • Mark Owens, CEO; Cindi Berger, chairman
  • HQ: New York and Los Angeles

This bicoastal behemoth both beefed up and spread out in 2021.  Its team of 300+ now reps more than 400 clients across ever-broader categories.  True to its roots, the agency added 25 talent clients, including The Jonas Brothers and Michael Urie; brought on brands like TikTok, Colossal Biosciences, Nicole Miller, and Tripadvisor; and reeled in high-profile entertainment hoo-hahs including The Grammy Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG), MusiCares, and GQ’s Man of The Year Awards.  The team engineered some of the year’s biggest pop culture moments around the release of Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry produced docuseries “The Me You Can’t See”; handled all of Elton John’s press in a very big year for the veteran showman; and continued attention-grabbing work for blue-chip clients like Mastercard, McDonald’s, Verizon, Heineken, and Cisco.

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9. Nasty Little Man

  • Steve Martin, founder and president
  • HQ: New York

How many PR people could watch one client induct another into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame – then watch said clients dominate the bestseller lists? Steve Martin made it happen with longtime clients Sir Paul McCartney and Foo Fighters this year.  That came on top of a killer year for Nasty Little Man, with clients like St. Vincent, Gorillaz, Metallica, and Radiohead either dropping long-awaited new releases, reissuing classics, or announcing tours – which, in LCD Soundsystem’s case, sold out 20 Brooklyn shows.  Martin manages it all with a tiny staff and seemingly inexhaustible enthusiasm.

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10. ID

  • Kelly Bush Novak, CEO and founder
  • HQ: Los Angeles

This bicoastal firm continues to steer cultural conversations, managing media and comms for a stellar roster of people and brands.  Since you haven’t got all day, we’ll keep it to pop sensation Olivia Rodrigo, who basically broke the internet; Olympian Allyson Felix, who became ubiquitous after a spectacular performance in Tokyo; the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which involved itself in some of the year’s highest-profile social-justice campaigns; Peloton, which has been battling headwinds this year; and something called Twitch. The firm’s also got promising talent clients by the names of Serena Williams, Patrick Stewart, and Elliot Page, as well as a number of current Oscar nominees including Andrew Garfield, Javier Bardem, Denis Villenueve, Hans Zimmer and Sian Heder.  There is also boatload of content and streaming projects including Yellowstone, Finding Your Roots, Pam & Tommy, Belfast, Severance and Pachinko.

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11. Magrino PR

  • Susan Magrino, chairman and CEO; Allyn Magrino, president and chief revenue officer
  • HQ: New York

This quintessentially New York powerhouse was founded nearly three decades ago.  So it’s a big deal that 2021 was Magrino’s best year ever.  Founder Susan Magrino’s practically synonymous with PR, and in a shaky year, more clients sought refuge in her firm’s battle-tested mix of traditional media, clever influencer relations, and savvy content creation.  Along with core consumer categories like spirits, hospitality, luxury brands, real estate and financial, the firm broadened its reach into verticals like sexual wellness (Vella), D2C food (Goldbelly) and NFTs (for longtime client Martha Stewart and others).  And its celebrity connections remain as potent as ever.  Magrino launched Bruno Mars’ SelvaRey rum and Blake Lively’s non-alcoholic Betty Buzz mixers, and counsels Drew Barrymore on a bunch of ventures.  The firm continues its momentum into 2022 being names AOR for Omni Hotels and Constellation Brands’ Fine Wines Portfolio, including Robert Mondavi Winery and Ruffino Winery.

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12. Vested

  • Binna Kim, president; Dan Simon, CEO; Ishviene Arora, COO
  • HQ: New York

True power is having other PR firms as your customers.  Vested has accomplished that with Qwoted, which connects journalists with sources.  Vested’s founders also launched Financial Narrative, a networking group for high-level financial comms people. Vested co-founder Simon also found time to write The Money Hackers, a well-reviewed book on the fintech revolution.  Oh, and the firm has big-name clients:  American Express, Morgan Stanley, RBC, GoldmanSachs, Bloomberg, and ScotiaBank among them. Bonus:  Vested may be the only firm on this list with a full-time employee in Bulgaria.

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13. BCW

  • Donna Imperato, CEO; Jillian Janaczek, president, BCW New York
  • HQ: New York

Comms behemoth BCW found itself in the center of critical assignments this year, including an expansion of its AstraZeneca work to include vaccines, as the PR trades reported.  BCW’s suite of services, which includes a polycultural consulting unit, appealed to giant brands like Johnson & Johnson, Dollar General, Royal Caribbean, Getty Images, bot-security outfit HUMAN, and Benefit Cosmetics, along with many more we can’t mention here.  The firm spent big on talent, too, splurging on global chief creative officer Fede Garcia (from Huge), global chief technology officer Chris Kief (ex-Droga5), and North America tech practice lead Karen Clyne (formerly of BlackBerry).

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14. Fenton

  • Valarie De La Garza, CEO
  • HQ: New York

A fractured electorate and agitated social climate have kept this leading social-issues firm very busy.  Among Fenton’s 2021 campaigns:  Fighting voter suppression through work with Black Voters Matter, Democracy for All, Center for Popular Democracy, The Leadership Conference, The New Georgia Project, and others; helping keep nurses front and center through the pandemic for client National Nurses United; and continuing potent work for Stop AAPI Hate, which campaigns against anti-Asian discrimination.  Fenton’s renowned for smart deployment of broad tactics, from viral videos to PSAs to interactive games to straight-up lobbying; its work in Sacramento convinced Governor Gavin Newsom to include $150 million in California’s state budget to fight anti-Asian hate.

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15. Rubenstein

  • Steven Rubenstein, president
  • HQ: New York

A steady hand mattered more than ever in 2021.  So Rubenstein, which has been around since 1954, seemed more in demand than ever.  Along with major media moments for NYC’s Little Island and the return of Broadway’s Girl from the North Country, Rubenstein kept the pedal to the metal for more than 400 clients across a dozen verticals; its roster sprawls from Gagosian Gallery to The New York Yankees, the MoMA, Jerry Seinfeld, NewYork-Presbyterian, Vornado and Tishman Speyer.  The firm ramped up its West Coast presence with a new Los Angeles office, and brought in heavyweights like ex-NYC Department of Education comms honcho Kate Blumm.  New clients:  Typically diverse, including A24, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, holding company Centric Brands, Engine No. 1 and Peloton.

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16. DKC

  • Sean Cassidy, president
  • HQ: New York

Somehow, DKC managed to turn this annus horribilis into the biggest year in its history, which is saying a lot.  A PR Power 50 regular from day one, DKC won a boatload of new business, including Equinox, TikTok, Amazon Prime Video, NFT producers Candy Digital and YellowHeart, COVID testing giant Vault Health and new network FOX Soul.  A major integrated marketer and content studio, DKC launched DKCulture, a BIPOC/Gen-Z-focused division whose clients include Snoop Dogg, top hip-hop label 300 Entertainment, Charlamagne tha God, and Dr. Dre.  And the agency’s busy Sports division dove into college athletics with DKC Campus while representing such iconic brands as Katie Ledecky and The Big East.  Bonus: DKC handled all comms for Clive Davis’ soggy but massive WE LOVE NYC: The Homecoming Concert, where luminaries like the Boss, Patti Smith, Santana, and Paul Simon lined up to share the stage in August. 

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17. Edelman

  • Richard Edelman, CEO
  • HQ: Chicago

Richard Edelman’s behemoth, the world’s largest independent PR firm, ended the year by naming the industry’s first global head of climate.  Since Edelman has taken serious heat for representing ExxonMobil – including a star-studded #EdelmanDropExxon social campaign – skeptics are calling it a PR move from a PR master.  But Edelman also posted its own climate-change policy, and launched Edelman Impact, a division to help clients “advance their strategies on climate”.  Amidst all the hoo-hah, Edelman continues to rep giant brands including Starbucks, eBay, Heinz, and Samsung, among many others.  With HQs in Chicago and New York, Edelman has 6,000 employees and $985 million in annual revenue.

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18. Joele Frank

  • Joele Frank, managing partner; Matthew Sherman, president
  • HQ: New York

Let’s talk power by the numbers:  For the eighth year in a row, Joele Frank ranked #1 PR firm for M&A by Corporate Control Alert. The firm also ranked #1 for shareholder activism defense PR and IR in 2021 by Bloomberg, continuing its dominance in this important and fast-growing advisory area.  We’re talking deals like Kansas City Southern Line’s $33.7-billion sale to Canadian National Railway and Square’s $29-billion acquisition of Afterpay, and activism defense clients like Box, Labcorp, Macy’s, Citrix and Janus Henderson.  Joele Frank also supported clients like Warby Parker, TPG and Affirm on their journeys to going public.  SPACS also dominated headlines, and Joele Frank was a leader in SPAC transactions, with clients including Benson Hill, Proterra and EO Charging.  Behind the scenes, the firm gave pro bono PR counsel to the legal effort in an explosive case of three men who were unjustly imprisoned; the men were exonerated in March 2021. 

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19. Hiltzik Strategies

  • Matthew Hiltzik, president and CEO
  • HQ: New York

Sketch a Venn diagram of finance, sports, media, entertainment, tech, philanthropy, and education.  Smack in the middle will appear Hiltzik’s firm, which continued growing its content, research and digital capabilities this year for an ever-broader range of clients.  Many of its assignments fall under the if-I-tell-you-I’ll-have-to-kill-you category, but among the ones we can mention:  A massive rollout for Schmidt Futures’ Rise, the world’s largest scholarship program for young people; comms for Singapore-based MMA org ONE Championship; messaging the XFL through everyone’s Worst Year Ever; and preparing Queensboro FC’s launch of a new NYC soccer team next year.  Celebrities, fret not:  Hiltzik still has time for you, as Jason Sudeikis and Brad Pitt can attest.  Bonus:  Hiltzik, who’s also a lawyer and film producer, is working on a sequel to 2004 sensation Paper Clips and pro bono efforts include Ghetto Film School and Darnella Frazier, the brave young woman who took the George Floyd video.

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20. Gasthalter

  • Jonathan Gasthalter, managing partner
  • HQ: New York

Founded just six years ago by a former Sard Verbinnen partner, Gasthalter’s grown into a major financial-PR player that punches way above its weight.  This year topped 2020 for boardroom drama here, with clients including Engine No. 1 in its successful proxy contest against Exxon Mobil; Anchorage Capital Group in its $8.5 billion sale of MGM to Amazon; a ton of SPAC transactions, with names including SoFi, Rover, Rocket Lab, and BARK; and a growing list of crypto and blockchain clients.  Among new clients this year: Vision Ridge, Ara Partners, Kainos Capital, Sagewind Capital, and Levine Leichtman Capital Partners. The firm still rules with hedge-clients, too.  Major hire this year:  ex-Kekst partner Mark Semer, a huge get.

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21. Goldin Solutions

  • Davidson Goldin, founder
  • HQ: New York

Few firms would have been able to manage one the year’s most sensitive situations – the re-emergence of Adam Neumann from the WeWork mess.  Goldin orchestrated a New York Times interview that not only ricocheted around the world, but also made Neumann seem – gasp! – human.  If you feel like you’ve been reading a lot about Substack lately, that’s also partly Goldin’s doing – the hot media property retained his firm this fall.  Along the way, Goldin and crew found time to counsel Ridgeback Bio, partners with Merck on the so-called Tamiflu for Covid treatment; newspaper acquirers Alden Capital; SolarWinds, which endured a massive cyberattack; and a bunch of crypto clients. Goldin also helped Netflix “My Unorthodox Life” star Julia Haart fend off attacks from people in the community she had left.  For every client we named, there are more we can’t; discretion’s the name of the game with Goldin, ex-NYT contributor and MSNBC senior executive.

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22. The Door

  • Lois Najarian O'Neill, cofounder and president; Charlie Dougiello, cofounder and CEO
  • HQ: New York

In August, O’Neill and Dougiello were tapped by parent company Dolphin Entertainment to launch an “NFT studio” – a first among comms agencies.  Rather than just hyping NFTs, the Door-supervised studio will conceptualize, produce and distribute NFTs for clients. Along the way, The Door also managed to launch an integrated-marketing practice, snagging several consumer pros to lead its affiliate relations, influencer marketing, SEM, SEO, and all-things-social campaigns.  New clients practically flew in the door amidst all of this, including Williams-Sonoma, Citarella, Häagen-Dazs, Sir Kensington’s, fast-casual chain PLNT Burger, the Francis Ford Coppola Winery and the Expo2Dubai food hall in – you guessed it – Dubai.

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23. The Berman Group

  • Sarah Berman, president
  • HQ: New York

Sarah Berman’s real-estate PR firm has been a Power List regular from the beginning, and 2021 gave the shop more chances to flex its muscle.  The Berman Group conceived and coordinated the Stand with Cities campaign, which linked large property owners, Fortune 500 companies, and political/cultural bigshots nationwide to trumpet the upside of living and working in cities.  The firm kept its foothold among major real-estate owners, with clients including RXR, Brookfield, Thor Equities, Silverstein Properties, and Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund.  Berman opened an office in Boston, adding to her NYC and DC footprints; revenue soared by 47% as global proptech clients also beat a path to her door – think Latch, Alfred, and Willow, among others.

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24. Dukas Linden

  • Richard Dukas, chairman and CEO; Seth Linden, president
  • HQ: New York

Some agencies like to crow about outgrowing old-school media.  But financial-PR heavyweight Dukas Linden, with its “newsroom-first” approach, continues to prove that earned moves the needle.  DL’s dedicated three-person broadcast team booked more than 1,000 client appearances this year. A long list of media coups includes a Bloomberg BusinessWeek cover for longtime client ARK-Invest and founder Cathie Wood – no small feat. The traditional-media focus doesn’t mean the firm’s old-fashioned.  Crypto and blockchain clients have flocked here, joining blue-chip names like Raymond James, Neuberger Berman; as well as the electric vehicle mining co., Piedmont Lithium, which DL helped land on the WSJ’s front page.  Bottom line for all of this: Twenty-year-old Dukas Linden had its best year ever.

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25. Small Girls PR

  • Mallory Blair, CEO and founder
  • HQ: New York

So much for truth in advertising.  Small Girls had a huge year, with big business wins, major hires, and massive names like P&G and GE on the client roster.  New this year at the 10-year-old bicoastal firm:  Harry’s Inc., Madewell, Neiman Marcus Group, and Northwestern Mutual, along with Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and Yohana, the independent Panasonic subsidiary led by former Google Nest CTO Yoky Matsuoka.  In a year of talent wars, Small Girls snagged names like ex-Fairchild Media comms head Quin Acciani and Meaghan Silverman, who had been a client as Rent the Runway’s PR director.  The agency ended the year with revenue growth and 70 employees.  We foresee a large 2022 for Small Girls.

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26. Purple

  • Fergus Lawlor, CEO
  • HQ: New York

Somehow, in the middle of the pandemic, Purple managed to grow its year-old Miami office by 75%.  The firm pretty much owned Art Basel Miami, handling launches and activations for Givenchy, WeTransfer, Kering, LVMH, and L’Officiel.  For Purple’s New York and LA outposts, the client scroll has been equally impressive.  The firm opened the Academy Awards Museum in Los Angeles and Great Jones Distillery in New York; brands including Hugo Boss, Kenzo, Shinola Hotels, Smashbox, Polaroid, Omega, Maison Francis Kurkdjian and The Webster turned Purple this year.  The firm continues to expand within and beyond key categories like hospitality, beauty, design, and fashion.

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27. MikeWorldWide

  • Michael Kempner, founder and CEO; Bret Werner, president
  • HQ: New York

Since one of MWW’s strengths is helping clients thrive through tough times, maybe it’s not a surprise that this 35-year-old firm achieved its best year in the rough seas of 2021.  Among the giant brands that Kempner and crew counseled this year:  Pinterest, Bic, Dairy Queen, and Deloitte.; new clients included Spotify, Patreon, DLA Piper, Thrivent Financial, and Heineken.  MWW’s award-winning creative work included the irresistible “Martha [Stewart] and Snoop Dogg Get Lit” campaign for Bic. Kempner himself, a longtime force in Democratic politics, continued his advocacy for voting rights, and remains a tireless activist for equity and diversity.

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28. SourceCode Communications

  • Rebecca Honeyman and Greg Mondshein, cofounders and managing partners
  • HQ: New York

From a two-person operation in 2017, SourceCode’s grown into a 41-person agency that’s now acquiring other firms – the company bought digital-creative shop Strike2 in October.  That should help SourceCode service the 26 new clients it won this year, including Workhuman, Impact, Kinship, Heap, Backblaze, and Gorillas. The new-business velocity also produced a 52% revenue increase over 2019.  Founders Becky Honeyman and Greg Mondshein have also expanded the firm into integrated communications and strategy; its new Insights & Engagement practice focuses on advertising, marketing, retail, employee, and workplace innovation. Bonus: The firm offers unlimited PTO, two annual “Nope Days”, and four-week paid sabbaticals.

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29. Kite Hill PR

  • Tiffany Guarnaccia, CEO and founder
  • HQ: New York

Because Kite Hill PR works on non-flashy clients – the ones who distribute entertainment, create ads, or make the web work – the agency can feel under-the-radar.  But Tiffany Guarnaccia’s eight-year-old shop has become a serious player in tech, B2B, and media.  A record year in revenues including wins like Tripadvisor, for its advertising platform; micro-payment provider Dropp; creative agency CONVICTS; and Trusted Media Brands, recently rebranded as TMB to reflect its evolution into a community driven entertainment company.  Kite Hill’s muscled into paid social and content, now a significant piece of its billings; this year, the agency even took several clients public, including electric battery maker Freyr.  Sharp-eyed readers might recognize Guarnaccia as founder of Communications Week, which she sold to Ragan Communications in April.

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30. Bold PR

  • Jodi Balkan, president
  • HQ: New York

Jodi Balkan’s relatively small but mighty firm, founded in 2008, has real juice in the close-knit world of beauty marketing.  Balkan diligently curates her client roster and keeps her teams compact; the result is serious long-term clients like Fenty Beauty, Pat McGrath Labs, Armani Beauty, and The Honest Company, along with 2021 arrivals Lancome, Prada Fragrances, Ralph Lauren Fragrances, Valentino Beauty, and JLo Beauty.  In February 2021, Bold landed client Dame Pat McGrath on the cover of Allure, a first for a makeup artist.  The firm’s also been a powerhouse in influencer relations, the real currency of beauty marketing these days

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31. NisonCo

  • Evan Nison, founder and president
  • HQ: Brooklyn

Nison’s firm may be the most adept at bridging advocacy and marketing in the cannabis space.   NisonCo’s thoughtful work this year included the headline-generating Cannabis in Common campaign with Headcount’s Cannabis Voter Project, which includes Sara Silverman and Seth Rogan.  The idea for NY State Assembly bill A6179, which would mandate public high schools to teach about good-samaritan overdose-prevention laws, came out of his agency.  Already a roster of big industry names, NisonCo’s client list grew this year with wins like GreenRoads CBD, Daily High Club, Moxie, and Ascend Wellness Holdings.  Bonus:  Nison himself is the youngest member of NORML’s board of directors.

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32. FITZ & CO

  • Sara Fitzmaurice, CEO and founder
  • HQ: New York

The art world’s been roaring back, art fairs are finally returning IRL, and FITZ & CO is by their side.  After going digital with FITZ & CO’s help, 26-year client Art Basel, returned to Miami this year, with more planned. Longtime client Storm King Art Center, an outdoor sculpture park, booked record numbers; FITZ & CO amped up high-profile installations and a new Chief Curator and Artistic Director. The firm won new business including the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage – yes, those Olympics – NFT marketplace Aorist, several projects at the 2022 Venice Biennale, East Hampton’s Guild Hall, and Google Arts & Culture.  BMW Group Culture, Faena Art, and Fondation Beyeler remain client stalwarts. 

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33. Shadow

  • Lisette Sand-Freedman, Liza Suloti, Michelle Sokoloff, Brad Zeifman, cofounders
  • HQ: New York

Shadow’s work follows a pattern:  Come up with Big Idea. Convince client to buy in.  Unleash campaign. Watch campaign blow up. This year, that kind of thinking brought in a boatload of new clients and sparked a 35% revenue jump.  Among the firm’s 2021 home runs:  More than ten billion video views for the #AerieREAL campaign, aimed at countering negative effects of social platforms, months before media jumped on that story; writing/filming a sea-shanty-inspired “Sun Shanty” for client Sun Bum, to the tune of 1.5 million engagements; and helping Bentley make a major splash among US auto aficionados.  This busy, 70-person shop also handled American Girl’s 35th anniversary; cast and managed American Eagle’s Back to School campaign; and, yes, introduced the world to the e.l.f. Cosmetics x Chipotle collab.  You’re welcome.

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34. Gia Kuan Consulting

  • Gia Kuan, founder
  • HQ: New York

As if the brands it represents weren’t cool enough on their own, Gia Kuan’s seven-person operation manages to make them feel even hotter.  Kuan landed client Telfar Clemens on Time’s “Next 100” cover in March after turning Telfar’s Bag Security program into a massive viral hit, and most recently NPR's 'How I Built This' with Guy Raz, CBS This Morning with Gayle King, and The Wendy Williams Show.  American luxury menswear brand Fear of God got the Kuan boost for its Seventh Collection, blasting off with ubiquitous media and a Frances McDormand Vogue cover.  Even Banana Republic tapped the firm for its rebrand last year, with Kuan’s team amping a Banana Republic Vintage campaign over trad and social channels. The firm continues to make inroads in art, with clients like civic-minded collective For Freedoms, downtown New York gallery Whaam!, and artist Hank Willis Thomas who exhibited during the All-Star weekend in Cleveland, celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the NBA; Kuan's work prioritizes deep cultural shifts and storytelling, with metrics of success derived from the true impact authenticated by the communities reached. And to add to their accolades, the GKC team is also on the masthead of nationally distributed Whaam Gazette as editors and publishers.

Courtesy company mmarco

35. M18

  • Michael Tavani, cofounder
  • HQ: New York

M18 feels like it’s been on a roll since it launched in 2010, and even the pandemic hasn’t slowed that momentum.  The firm now handles more than 150 clients in 35 cities around the world; though real estate’s been the focus from day one, hospitality’s become huge for them, and their Florida portfolio continues to expand.  New and noteworthy in 2021:  Aman, New York, the reinvention of the Crown Building into 22 ultra-exclusive private residences atop a swish hotel; the OWO London, new private residences in the UK’s former Old War Office building; NoMad London; and Borgo Santandrea, Italy, the first new luxury hotel to open on the Amalfi Coast in 15 years.  M18’s team of more than 40 circulates between New York, LA, and Miami.

Courtesy company mmarco

36. Cultural Counsel

  • Adam Abdalla, president
  • HQ: New York

After the success of last year’s Artist Relief grant program, which Abdalla founded and ran, this insider’s-insider agency made a big leap into philanthropies and foundations this year – giving it even more juice in arts and culture.   Hewlett, Surdna, Headlands Center for the Arts, Brooklyn's Amant Foundation, Mumbai's Reliance Foundation, Rainin Foundation, Pillars, PioneerWorks, and Performa all came aboard, along with galleries and institutions including El Museo del Barrio and MCA San Diego.  Stalwart clients Creative Time, Matthew Marks Gallery, Kickstarter, and A24 films stuck with Cultural Counsel through the pandemic; United Talent Agency, the Whitney, and the Bronx Museum returned.

Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images Cindy Ord / Getty

37. Day One Agency

  • Rob Longert, cofounder and managing partner; Josh Rosenberg, cofounder and CEO; Brad Laney, cofounder and president
  • HQ: New York

This might be what the next generation of PR looks like. Day One made headlines for drawing more than 700 applicants for a creative apprenticeship through TikTok, a platform where one of the agency’s recent client campaigns garnered more views than the Super Bowl.  Other agencies have followed suit.  Meantime, Day One has leveraged that savvy into powerful multi-platform campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands like American Express, Chipotle, Ferrara, Meta, Nike and Walmart.  The agency helped push clients where others fear to tread, from the meme-iverse to the metaverse. 

Courtesy company mmarco

38. Antenna Group

  • Keith Zakheim, CEO
  • HQ: San Francisco

Team members here call themselves “Ants”; they may have been among PR’s most industrious workers this year. Antenna’s revenue grew more than 60% year-over-year; its headcount mushroomed by 50%, to nearly 90. On that team: New hires like ex-EPA and DOT official Andy Beck, former WSJ reporter Cassandra Sweet, and former Mansion Global editor Gina Faridniya. With its cleantech, real estate, and healthcare clients in mind, Antenna opened outposts in DC and Detroit. Among the firm’s 2021 home runs: Launching a mobile-vaccine campaign with electric-vehicle maker AYRO; amplifying client Room’s partnership with Zoom, including a full-page WSJ story; and promoting the benefits of virtual care with client Roche.

Courtesy company mmarco

39. J/PR

  • Jamie Sigler O'Grady, founding partner; Sarah Evans, partner
  • HQ: New York

After an atrocious 2020 – their core business is hospitality – J/PR put the pedal to the metal. With a raft of new business, revenue’s now on track to top the firm’s 2019. The firm ended the year by nabbing Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts -- a huge win.  Evans and O’Grady also completed their first acquisition, snapping up London’s travel-PR outfit Sadler & Co., while further expanding their lifestyle, real estate, and wellness portfolio. Among J/PR’s new assignments this year:  Richard Branson's Necker Island and Moskito Island, Hawaiian Airlines, National Geographic Expeditions, highly anticipated Cali Mykonos resort, and several of Hilton's Waldorf Astoria and Conrad-branded hotels.  They join longtime clients like Relais & Chateaux, Vail Resorts Hospitality, Pendry Hotels & Resorts, various Four Seasons Resorts, and several destinations. J/PR itself has broadened from trad PR into content creation, influencer work, social, and even crisis work. The agency also underwent its first major re-brand since 2016.

Courtesy company mmarco

40. Camron PR

  • Max Tobias, deputy CEO; Judy Dobias, CEO and founder
  • HQ: New York

From its roots as a London design PR firm, Camron has evolved into a bigger force in marketing for a wider range of clients.  Over the last 12 months, Max Tobias, who joined the firm in 2015 was appointed deputy CEO and the firm launched a brand-strategy division. Camron also doubled down on digital with a number of new hires; and debuted a design-incubator program whose first client, artist Marcin Rusak, made waves at Milan’s Supersalone. PR’s not going anywhere; Camron won clients this year including Ralph Lauren Home, ZZ Driggs, Kelly Wearstler-designed Proper Hotels, and Eames Office.  Camron’s also broadened into real estate across North America, hospitality, and luxury brands.

Courtesy company mmarco

41. The Right Now

  • Eric Green, Sunny Jenkins, Wally Hasselbring, cofounders
  • HQ: Los Angeles

Established just over a year ago, The Right Now is the youngest agency on this list.  But its three co-founders are industry veterans, and they’re already snaring big brands with highly creative, fully integrated campaigns that touch every comms platform.  On the roster:  UGG, Bergdorf Goodman, Erewhon, Billabong, Strathberry, GoPuff, Kendra Scott, and Walgreens, along with entertainment clients like EPIX, HBO Max, Tubi, Redbox, Infinite Reality, and the NBA.  The firm also handled the launch of Project Brazen, the studio and production company founded by authors of the bestselling Billion-Dollar Whale.

Courtesy company mmarco

42. Quinn

  • Florence Quinn, president and founder
  • HQ: New York

After a miserable pandemic year, Quinn’s bounced back close to pre-Covid revenue. More importantly, the agency seized the moment to give up its offices, adopt a work-from-anywhere model, and kill it for clients.  For the comeback of luxury cruise line Regent Seven Seas, Quinn campaigns generated nearly two billion impressions. Quinn’s work for New York’s long-delayed Legoland theme park generated more than 10 billion impressions – including a widely watched Jimmy Fallon segment.  The high end of travel and hospitality has been doing fine, and so has its go-to agency; Quinn now reps Fraser Yachts, VistaJet, and residential projects for St. Regis, Mandarin Oriental, and Four Seasons, among others. Quinn herself remains one of the industry’s rare idea gurus who also grasps a client’s bottom line.

Courtesy company mmarco

43. ICR

  • Tom Ryan, cofounder and CEO; Don Duffy, president
  • HQ: New York

Nearly a quarter-century old, ICR’s grown into the 800-pound comms gorilla for companies looking to enter public markets through IPOs, direct listings, or SPACs. In 2021 – not a bad year for the markets, as you may have heard – the firm got even bigger. Headcount rose by over 100 to more than 350; client roster climbed from 800 in 2020 to nearly 1,000; revenue shot up by more than 80%. Its new clients include consumer brands like Draft Kings, The Honest Company, Peloton, and ZoomInfo; electric-vehicle/mobility companies like Bird, Blade, and EVGo; and a ton of energy-tech and sustainability outfits. Bonus: ICR’s clients are practically regulars on CNBC, a key audience for what they’re all selling.

Courtesy company mmarco

44. Great Ink

  • Roxanne Donovan, president
  • HQ: New York

Her firm’s not the loudest, flashiest, or – by any stretch – the biggest.  But her sterling client list makes Donovan one of New York’s PR power players in commercial real estate.  Longtime clients include giants like Aby Rosen’s RFR, Mack Real Estate, CBRE, Hines, and RADCO, private-equity outfits Arden Group, Turnbridge Equities, Standard Real Estate Investments, law megafirm Fried Frank, and many more.  Bonus:  When Aby Rosen finally reveals his $200 million overhaul of the Chrysler Building, which he bought in 2019, it'll be Donovan who handles the rollout.

Courtesy company mmarco

45. APCCollective

  • Audrey Ponzio, CEO and founder
  • HQ: Austin

Ponzio’s “primarily Latina” firm continues to pitch – and win – against much bigger firms.  In 2021 alone, the former Edelman exec and her team have snared or expanded work for T-Mobile, DIRECTV's Familia Fuego TikTok initiative, Mineragua water, Suma Wealth, and No Kid Hungry Texas.  With a very lean core of operations and a widely distributed workforce – in place long before Covid - Ponzio partners with a potent network of comms agencies, ad shops, digital creators, and lobbyists. It’s a smart and strategic model for uncertain times. Ponzio herself has emerged as a leader in marketing to slivers of consumer segments that bigger firms struggle to reach.

Courtesy company mmarco

46. Praytell

  • Andy Pray, founder and CEO
  • HQ: Brooklyn

Already a force, Andy Pray’s generalist shop gained velocity in 2021, adding 70+ clients and growing revenues more than 32%.  Among the wins: Category leaders from Pfizer and Shopify to Destination Canada and Xfinity Wifi to E. & J. Gallo and Nutanix.  The firm made news itself when Pray announced a four-day workweek in August; the firm also ramped up its Kickstart initiative, a kind of creative incubator for business growth and narrative refinement. Among its notable campaigns:  A video about colored hair for Sally Beauty that drew eight million TikTok views, and a Black History Month partnership for UnderArmour that made national headlines.

Courtesy company mmarco

47. Linda Gaunt Communications

  • Linda Gaunt, owner
  • HQ: New York

Considering the fashion cycle operates at hyperspeed these days, it’s an achievement that Linda Gaunt’s firm has stayed cool for all of its 18 years.  Longtime clients include hip-but-grown-up brands like Todd Snyder, Eileen Fisher, Billy Reid, and Outerknown; young labels like sustainable luxury brand Another Tomorrow and DTC bag company CARAA also stand by Gaunt.  The firm’s expanded into upscale hospitality with Bulgari Hotels and the Spring Place private-membership club.  Gaunt ran comms for Giorgio Armani, Bergdorf, and Saks before she launched her business; there are few people as connected, or well-liked, in the fickle field of fashion.

Courtesy company mmarco

48. Polk & Co

  • Matt Polk, founder and president
  • HQ: New York

Let’s state the obvious:  2021 was not a great year to specialize in PR for Broadway shows.  But Polk pulled through by broadening its scope to streaming and broadcast content in a big way.  The firm got in on action from Amazon (One Night in Miami), Disney+ (Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella), Netflix (Tick, Tick…Boom!), United Artists Releasing (Respect, Cyrano), Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (West Side Story) and Warner Bros. (In The Heights). Once theater started inching back, Polk promoted the Broadway League’s This is Broadway campaign, whose centerpiece was an Oprah-narrated film. On the social-justice side, Polk helped promote the Broadway Advocacy Coalition and Black Theater United including their “A New Deal for Broadway” initiative. Theater fans, rejoice:  Following the successful year-end launches of Roundabout Theatre Company’s Caroline, or Change and Trouble in Mind, and Second Stage’s Clyde’s, Polk’s also got a full slate of stage clients for the coming months.

Photo by Jeremy Daniel, courtesy company mmarco

49. Montieth & Company

  • Montieth Illingworth, CEO and global managing partner
  • HQ: New York

Montieth & Co.’s “cross-border PR” model continues to produce dividends for the firm – and for clients.  In a nutshell, the agency employs smart, multilingual people in strategic global hub office locations rather than a giant, bottom-heavy organization.  M&Co started the year by launching Montieth SPRG, a joint-venture firm in Hong Kong.  A globe-spanning client roster includes BrainBox AI, German sustainability investor outfit MPC Energy Solutions, Brazil’s GOL airlines, and Morrow Sodali.  Illingworth, a former journalist, is especially sought-after for crisis and litigation comms.

Courtesy company mmarco

50. Jonesworks

  • Stephanie Jones, founder
  • Location: New York

In just ten years, Stephanie Jones’ firm has amassed a glittery stable of fashion, tech, and lifestyle clients, along with a heavyweight roster of talent it represents.  Among the agency’s 2021 home runs:  Generating more than 16 billion impressions for client Safely, Kris Jenner and Emma Grede’s clean home-care product launch; announcing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and partner Dany Garcia’s acquisition of XFL; winning a boatload of accolades for Justin Bieber discoverer Scooter Braun and his company SB Projects; and generally making clients like Venus Williams, Carmelo Anthony, and Tom Brady unavoidable in press and social media. Jonesworks also reps big consumer brands like Mattel’s Barbie, Hot Wheels and Uno, Ocean Spray, Artsy and luxury fashion brand BRADY. 

Courtesy company mmarco

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