10 Best Fashion PR Firms - Top Public
PUBLIC RELATIONS, MORE THAN ANY TIME IN ITS HISTORY, IS IN A STATE of continuous reinvention, and this year’s list captures that very exciting sense of flux. Smart agencies don’t even call themselves PR firms anymore; they’re integrated communications companies, content creators, multiplatform providers, production companies, or all of the above.
You’ll notice some big changes in this year’s PR Power 50, our second annual ranking of New York’s most powerful agencies—and the people behind them.
Some of that has to do with the overwhelming response we got to the 2013 ranking. Scores of agencies got in touch with us about last year’s list. Other big-picture developments had direct effects on our list this year, including the emergence of financial communications as the sexiest segment of the industry. Marquee financial fights, such as mergers, acquisitions, takeovers and inversions, became front-page news this year, and the PR forces behind them loomed much larger.
“Whoever thought financiers were Hollywood?” quips Jennifer Prosek, whose 20-year-old financial-communications firm, Prosek Partners (#18), has reaped the benefits. “Vanity Fair profiles a hedge fund manager every month. My dad knows who Bill Gross is. They used to be under the radar, and now none of them are.”
This year’s meatiest front-page conflicts—the mayor vs. Eva Moskowitz, Airbnb vs. Eric Schneiderman, Uber vs. the TLC—have also meant a major marshaling of PR forces (see our “PR Battles of the Year” sidebar on p. 32). The firms that understand how to leverage communication in a fractured landscape are the ones that helped win hearts and minds this year—and that also populated more of our list. “We’re hired these days to help people think,” says Shawn Sachs, co-CEO at the 125-person firm Sunshine Sachs (#1). “The days of the Entourage, yelling-screaming publicist are over.”
National developments like Obamacare had huge impacts on New York—and huge bounties for agencies smart and fast enough to show up.
“Because of the Affordable Care Act, healthcare PR had a headline year,” says Ken Makovsky, founder and CEO of independent powerhouse Makovsky (#7). “It’s the biggest growth area, with all of the pharmaceutical and healthcare companies looking at its impact.” The PR Power 50 reflects that this year, with several new arrivals highly active in that PR sector.
All that said, there’s much common ground between this year’s PR Power List and last year’s. First, the industry has continued on the same roll we caught it on last year, when we launched the list. Nearly every agency head we spoke to reported revenue increases, most in double digits. Behemoths like Fleishman-Hillard (#3) are reporting 50 percent growth for the year.
Mid-size players like LaForce + Stevens (#26) kept up the momentum as well, keeping pace with a record-breaking 2013. “As counting or tracking or measuring in all other disciplines becomes so much more exact, it calls out notion that our area is least measurable,” says co-founder and CEO James LaForce. “Luckily, that’s also why business is so good for all of us. People still want it and believe in it. When something’s in the media, it’s also big in social and big in owned channels. So what we offer is still valuable to them.”
And several smaller agencies cracked the million mark for the first time—still a milestone for an indie shop. “To prove that business is on an upswing, I am finally able to offer employees a bonus program and IRA plan,” said Steven Hall, co-founder of Hall Company (#46). “After 18 years, it’s nice to say.”
What’s also remained consistent is our primary criteria for the PR Power 50: Good, old-fashioned influence.
Plenty of places rank agencies by income or size; that’s not our intention, though big agencies often have profiles that match their horsepower. We look at an agency’s clients, connections, reputation, visibility and the kinds of situations where it’s been involved over the last year. We factor in new-business wins, big hires and major campaigns. And there are many, many firms in New York that punch far above their weight.
Because this is a subjective ranking, we also consider our own interactions with agencies. Quite frankly, it’s hard to take a firm seriously when they don’t return your calls or emails.
We still think there’s never been a more exciting time for the PR industry, and there’s never been a more exciting place to be part of it. The people you’re about to meet are the ones who make it that way.
Power 50 list by Michael Kaminer with additional reporting by Jaclyn Gallucci and Eliza Krpoyan.