The Top PR Firms for Crisis & Reputation Management

The fixers to call when you’re in a bind—or (as the wise already know) to help prevent PR disasters in the first place.

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Business leaders across industries were taught several key crisis management lessons in 2023. One crucial insight emphasized the importance of promptly appointing new leaders to avoid creating uncertainty or doubt, as seen in the case of the game show Jeopardy! Another lesson highlighted the need for diverse crisis management plans tailored to different situations, as responses to cyberattacks differ from those to litigation or CEO deaths.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)'s "winter-ready" campaign reminded businesses to prepare for severe weather, considering the significant losses incurred due to winter storms in 2022. Additionally, companies were urged to address known threats, specifically focusing on the risks associated with rapidly evolving technologies like artificial intelligence.

The ouster of Paddy Cosgrave, the CEO of Web Summit, an annual technology conference held in Lisbon, Portugal, in October 2023, was a cautionary tale of the potential consequences of expressing personal opinions publicly. The aftermath of last summer’s wildfires on Maui revealed the predictable patterns that often follow a crisis, prompting business leaders to update their recovery plans accordingly.

Cross-cultural communications are critical in handling crises involving different cultures, races, and religions. The importance of investigating a crisis thoroughly and determining its cause was also marked in 2023, as evidenced by federal regulators' actions following Silicon Valley Bank's failure in March of last year.

A new type of corporate crisis, the "Crisis L," driven by politics and culture wars, emerged in 2023. Companies were advised to avoid activating the political brain and potentially spiraling into a Crisis L, emphasizing the significance of knowing customers, unifying social messages, maintaining a track record of values, and avoiding flip-flopping on stances while seeking objective advice on contentious issues. 

These and other crisis management lessons from 2023 provide valuable insights for business leaders aiming to navigate and mitigate the impact of potential crises in the future. A crisis management plan tailored to different needs is essential, as one plan cannot fit all situations. Here are five firms specializing in reputation and crisis management that defined industry trends in 2023 and have exciting plans for 2024.

Visit our Power Index to view the entire 2024 PR Power Series.

The Top PR Firms for Crisis & Reputation Management in 2024

Hiltzik Strategies

In 2023, Hiltzik Strategies saw significant growth in its client base, focusing on providing strategic counsel, corporate communications, crisis management and litigation support. Despite economic uncertainties, the firm thrived due to its diverse services and retained clients. The team also expanded to refine its expertise, celebrating its 15-year anniversary.

Since its founding in 2008, Hiltzik Strategies has maintained a strong reputation for effectiveness, passion and adaptability. Clients appreciate the firm's nimbleness and versatility in addressing various issues that may arise across different industries. The team's extensive experience and relationships in politics, sports, entertainment, tech and finance have allowed them to positively impact clients from diverse backgrounds.

“There’s a range of services that we offer in terms of strategic counsel, for individuals, executives, corporate communications, crisis identification, mitigation, avoidance litigation support,” President and CEO Matthew Hiltzik tells Observer. 

“A significant part of what we do is act as a consulting partner in business with a research and content team,” Hiltzik added, noting that the firm’s consulting services include conducting surveys and evaluations. “Uncertainty tends to actually benefit us because people look to find support and counsel that takes into consideration a lot of different factors.”

Hiltzik Strategies secured several notable clients in 2023, including schools in the Pac-12 Conference, the Atlantic Coast Conference, the U.S. men's national soccer team’s head coach Greg Berhalter, Salesforce and a major food restaurant company. Looking ahead, Hiltzik Strategies remains dedicated to providing top-notch services and support to its clients, leveraging its unique blend of expertise in crisis management, strategic counsel and business consulting. The team's track record of success and client satisfaction is a testament to their ongoing commitment to excellence in the ever-evolving landscape of public relations and strategic communications.

Matthew Hiltzik Hiltzik Strategies

Hirsch Leatherwood

Hirsch Leatherwood spent most of 2023 focusing on a major client in the blockchain industry. The firm highlighted how it positioned the company as a trusted leader during industry skepticism and financial uncertainty, emphasizing the importance of credibility and legitimacy in a volatile market filled with questionable players.

“Overall, 2023 was a pretty significant crisis for the blockchain industry," Hirsch Leatherwood CEO Steve Hirsch tells Observer. “It was a crypto winter. Venture capital money dried up, and there was a lot of skepticism around the future of the industry.” 

Hirsch also touched on the broader landscape of crisis management, noting a shift toward proactive reputation management among CEOs and senior executives. He emphasized the significance of building and maintaining a positive reputation daily—and through multiple channels—to mitigate potential crises effectively. Hirsch pointed to the role of communications and PR in the C-suite, underlining the importance of strategic crisis preparedness in unpredictable events like negative social media posts.

Hirsch Leatherwood’s growth and stability remained healthy throughout 2023, with a steady increase in staff numbers and a positive outlook for the future. The firm managed to remain resilient and even achieve growth, showcasing its ability to adapt and thrive in a competitive industry despite the challenges and budget constraints experienced in 2023. 

Hirsch mentioned signing the New York Mets and JFK Airport's New Terminal One among notable client acquisitions in 2023. Hirsch Leatherwood’s core strength lies in its ability to tie its efforts directly to business metrics, such as funding rounds, acquisitions, and increased sales—a departure from the traditional PR approach.

Steve Hirsch Photo by Rafael Infante

Next Solutions Group

In the competitive landscape of strategic communications, Next Solutions Group emerges as a powerhouse with an impressive track record spanning business, government and journalism. With a diverse team boasting experience supporting top-tier executives, government officials, military leaders and nonprofit organizations, the firm stands as a beacon of excellence in the industry.

Operating from strategic locations in New York, Austin, Washington, D.C. and London, the firm offers a comprehensive suite of services tailored to meet the evolving needs of its clientele. From crisis management to cybersecurity, corporate partnerships to executive media training, the firm's expertise encompasses a wide array of disciplines crucial for navigating today's complex communication landscape.

Next Solutions Group is supported by a team of seasoned experts, including former journalists from print, digital and TV backgrounds. This insider knowledge uniquely positions the firm to anticipate and address clients' needs across various media platforms, ensuring that their stories are effectively crafted and disseminated to the right audiences.

At the core of Next Solutions Group's approach is a commitment to engaging and educating stakeholders, including media, lawmakers, and employees. By offering tailored strategies for proactive and reactive communication, the firm equips clients with the tools to navigate challenges and seize opportunities in a rapidly changing environment.

With a focus on executive communications training, the firm empowers clients to effectively convey their message internally and externally. Through personalized coaching and real-world scenarios, the firm prepares leaders to confidently address media inquiries and convey key messages with clarity and impact.

RF Binder

In 2023, RF Binder experienced significant success in crisis management, particularly with clients in the Middle East facing misinformation issues. They launched the "clarity lens" program, integrating business and communication strategies for high-impact projects. The firm secured contracts with notable clients, including Ocean Spray, TGI Fridays, the E.U.-funded "Clink" program aimed at boosting the visibility of German and Bordeaux in the U.S., and working with Cargill to address misinformation. Despite confidentiality constraints, they highlighted the challenges of sustainable investing amid evolving political climates.

“We're seeing across the board with all of our clients as it is in this country, in the highly politicized environment we're in all of a sudden, and clients are getting into issues,” CEO and founder Amy Binder tells Observer. “We bring people to our clients who have deep industry experience and knowledge, allowing them to gauge the situation and use communications to address specific business problems.” 

Founded in 2001 as part of the Ruder Finn Group, the firm's distinguishing factor lies in its team's strong business acumen. The team focuses on leveraging communication to solve at least 75 percent of client problems. The team's diverse backgrounds, including MBAs from prestigious institutions, enable RF|Binder to offer strategic solutions tailored to each client's unique challenges. 

Last year, one of the firm’s notable achievements was the acquisition of Peaks Strategies, integrating their expertise into the financial services practice. The importance of integrating A.I. strategically into their services is an emphasis of the firm. In light of evolving A.I. regulations, transparency in A.I. usage was underscored as crucial to combat misinformation risks.

Looking ahead to 2024, the firm anticipates increased client demand for crisis management support amidst politicized environments and emerging issues like ESG compliance and misinformation. They emphasized the need for strategic communication to address evolving challenges effectively. Legislative developments around A.I. usage were also discussed, highlighting the importance of transparency regardless of regulatory frameworks.

Amy Binder RF|Binder


In 2023, SKDK achieved significant successes across various fronts. Notably, the firm represented American families of hostages in Gaza, garnering recognition in The New York Times. To counter misinformation following Hamas’s attack on Israel on Oct.7, 2023, SKDK initiated The “10/7 Project” and organized a “March for Israel” rally in Washington, D.C. The firm also contributed to the bipartisan America250 initiative, commemorating the 250th anniversary of the United States.

“Our firm is more dynamic than it’s ever been due to investments we’ve made in the past year that allow us to provide more services and high-level strategy to even more clients,” SKDK CEO Doug Thornell tells Observer. “We bring a campaign mindset to everything we do and sit at the center of politics, media and policy. Heading into a presidential election year, we are perfectly situated to help clients navigate a very complicated and challenging political and media landscape in 2024.” 

SKDK played a pivotal role on the legislative front in repealing the 90-day rule for city housing vouchers in New York City, collaborating with Win, the city’s largest provider of homeless services for women and children. The firm was instrumental in Tom Suozzi's special election congressional campaign, providing strategic advice and digital advertising expertise.

On the client acquisition and hiring side, SKDK recently welcomed major clients such as Diageo, The 10/7 Project, McDonald's, United Way Worldwide and Smithsonian Rural Initiative. Key hires included managing director Amber Macdonald, the former chief speechwriter for First Lady Jill Biden, executive VP and head of paid digital Maxwell Nunes, and senior VP of public affairs Bryan Lesswing.

Clients continue to choose SKDK for its senior-level support, avoiding bait-and-switch tactics. The firm's collaborative, one-stop-shop approach, coupled with its ability to handle crises and strong media relationships, sets it apart from competitors. CEO Thornell emphasized the firm's role as a strategic partner, offering expertise in research, polling data, advertising and strategic communications.

Doug Thornell SKDK

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