2022 was yet another year of waiting for a “return to normal” that never entirely arrived. But the best agencies are the ones that can ride out change and take advantage of even adverse times. Here are the 25 best PR agencies in the United States right now.
2022 was yet another year of waiting for a “return to normal” that never entirely arrived; PR agencies, like most businesses, continued with a hybrid of remote and in-person work and dealt with the vagaries of supply chains. It was also a year for curveballs: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Elon Musk’s tumultuous purchase of Twitter were two major events that few saw coming. But as always, the best agencies are the ones that can ride out change and take advantage of even adverse times. Here are the 25 best PR agencies in the United States right now.
By any measure, BerlinRosen had a spectacular year. A major VC investment let the firm loose on acquisitions; BR snapped up PR/consulting shops Derris, Onward, and GlenEcho, planting a flag in London in the process. Even before the VC deal, BerlinRosen was enjoying the strongest year in its history, with category-spanning hits. A very small sample: BerlinRosen’s tech practice repped Octopus Energy, Samsung, the Wikimedia Foundation, and streaming company Atmosphere; grew its year-old Gaming division to snag clients like Audi’s Holoride, Playstudios, and Unity; continued supporting Sandy Hook families through this year’s verdict; promoted the 10th anniversary of the Fight for $15 movement; and its campaign consulting helped elect more than 100 candidates in the midterm election cycle. And BR’s real estate, hospitality, and entertainment divisions continue to mushroom. Add it all up, and it’s impossible not to name BerlinRosen as our #1 firm for the third consecutive year.
The “D” in SKDK is Anita Dunn, one of Joe Biden’s closest advisers. She may not run the firm day-to-day, but her White House position sure gives SKDK a direct line to people in power. On its own, the firm had a winning year, advising a racing sheet of winning political campaigns including Governor-elect Wes Moore of Maryland and Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona. Power here also comes from a deep bench of talent, including new hire Justin Goodman, former comms director for Senator Chuck Schumer; Adora Andy Jenkins, who held top comms roles at the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency; award-winning former broadcast news journalist Lisa Stark; and Saundra Torry, who spent two decades as a Washington Post reporter and then two more writing opinions on USA Today’s editorial board.
Sure, Risa Heller’s firm is like a 911 line for celebrities in “sensitive situations”: Arcade Fire’s Win Butler, CNN’s Jeff Zucker, and Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg all tapped the agency this year. But the company’s grown way beyond crisis clients. For giants like Airbnb and Doordash, the firm helps navigate New York State regulatory issues; for Marblegate Asset Management, the largest owner of NYC taxi medallions, Heller’s team managed high-profile stories around the company’s taxi investments; for the Real Estate Board of New York, the agency led a press campaign advocating for replacement of 421a tax incentive program. A long list of clients also includes the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp and the Durst Organization. Heller does not seek publicity for herself, but this is one face of power in NYC.
If you’re talking about it, there’s a good chance ID PR has worked on it. For director Ryan Coogler and actress Lupita Nyong’o, the firm guided campaigns around the massive Wakanda Forever; for tennis legend Serena Williams, ID crafted a careful campaign around her retirement. Likewise, ID has repped NBA record-shatterer Steph Curry, scoring slam-dunks like Rolling Stone’s first athlete-themed cover since 2016. Heard of Paramount Network’s Yellowstone, or the Apple+ hit Severance? Olivia Rodrigo or Janelle Monae? Seth Rogen or Tracee Ellis Ross? They’re all on this agency’s roster, which only keeps growing in size and gravity
For giant real-estate clients like RXR, Silverstein, and Howard Hughes, Berman’s 60-person shop has become more than a PR partner; they’re advisors on everything from future-proofing offices to the amenities tenants expect from workplaces. If you’re wondering how this affects your life, think about the post-pandemic debate over the future of work. Berman’s firm is at the center of it, along with issues from DEI and ESG to design, branding, and the nuts and bolts of what makes a building sexy. Bonus: The Berman Group helped client Kastle create the Back to Work Barometer, the now-ubiquitous index of office occupancy.
We don’t usually crunch numbers for this list, but it’s hard to ignore Finn Partners’ math for 2022. The 10-year-old firm is on track to hit $200 million in revenues by year end, a 23.5% increase, with 1,400 people across 33 offices on 3 continents. The company acquired four more agencies – Finn Partners is the Hoover of PR – and opened eight more offices from Bangalore to Beijing. At a critical time, Finn’s health practice has boomed, with a list of pharma and advocacy clients too long to publish here; the company’s work around racial disparities in healthcare has made it a leader in the industry and beyond. Finn Partners’ travel & hospitality vertical also took off, with a planeload of new hotel, destination, and industry/trade clients like the International Travel Show.
Brunswick calls itself “the world’s leading critical issues advisory firm”. The firm delivered the goods in 2022. On the mega-deal side, Brunswick – deep breath – advised on 38 M&A transactions worth $135 billion and 13 publicly disclosed activist-defense campaigns with an aggregate client market cap of $527 billion. Those activism-defense campaigns included high-profile battles for McDonald’s (against Carl Icahn), Hasbro (against Alta Fox) and Canadian National Railway (against The Children’s Investment Fund Management). On the personnel side, hires included ex Goldman Sachs exec Craig Singer, former NYT Shanghai bureau chief Seth Faison – to lead a New York-based China Hub – and author/talking head Suzy Welch as a senior advisor.
Under CEO Bloomgarden – a PhD fluent in French, conversant in four other languages – Ruder Finn continues to reign as the one of the industry’s smartest firms. Among 38 new clients in 2022: Southwest Airlines, AbbVie Oncology, Ford Motors, Starbucks, EV startup Lucid Motors, and MeetKai, an emerging metaverse company. They’re drawn, no doubt, to an agency whose restlessness has led it to create a Web 3.0 engine; produces killer streaming content through award-winning subsidiary Osmosis Films; and launched The Comunicad Collective, which Ruder Finn calls “America’s largest network of Hispanic leaders, influencers, visionaries and representatives from national and grassroots communities.” The firm now numbers 350 in the U.S. and 1,070 worldwide.
Across the board, Prosek had a very big year, starting with its new 34,000-square-foot Madison Avenue flagship. The firm acquired some big talent this year, including the Milken Institute’s Katie O’Reilly and Jonathan Chavkin, the CIA’s former chief speechwriter. Its dedicated marketing practice, Prophecy by Prosek, grew to 15 staffers who handle things like web development, strategic branding, and brand architecture. Prosek got a bigger footprint, with offices in DC and Palm Beach. And it won major accolades, including a nod as #1 Private Equity PR firm by The Deal. Clients remain in the big leagues, from Citi and Travelers to Carlyle, Edward Jones, and Franklin Templeton.
“Depp is by many accounts ‘winning in the court of public opinion.’” That was Entertainment Weekly’s verdict on the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial, one of the year’s most massive stories. Along with his legal team, Depp had tapped Matthew Hiltzik and his crew, who have long supported high-profile people (Brad Pitt, Kelly Ripa, Dr. Phil, Jason Sudeikis, T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach) in sometimes-sensitive situations. But that’s just a piece of the action here; Hiltzik continues to flex the agency’s muscle across disciplines, including sports, philanthropy, finance, and tech. New clients include MSG Sports, microbetting operation Betr, and Intuit’s National Financial Literacy Program for High School Students; Hiltzik’s longtime roster includes the XFL league, and Schmidt Futures, the former Google CEO’s philanthropic initiative.
In case anyone doubted The Lede Company’s stature, The New York Times answered them with a sprawling, adoring profile in April. More recently, on an LA red carpet, Jennifer Garner hailed co-CEO Meredith O’Sullivan as “the most trusted woman in Hollywood.” Along with Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Rami Malek, Rihanna, and a Titanic’s worth of celebrities, the firm also reps brands and businesses like Netflix, Thom Browne, LiveNation, and Univision. And as Vogue Business reported in October, Lede Company’s next frontier is London, where it just opened an office, with Paris in its sights for 2023. Watch out, world.
Still one of the most powerful generalist firms in New York, and one of the few with brand recognition beyond the industry, Rubenstein kept piling on the big-time clients in 2022. The firm supported The Estée Lauder Company in its acquisition of Tom Ford Brands; worked on manifold entertainment projects for clients HBO, A24, and Paramount; and worked with the Center for Reproductive Rights in responding to the landmark Supreme Court Dobbs case. Rubenstein now represents more than 400 clients; those who piled in this year include Peloton, the Broadway League, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and The Durst Organization, joining stalwarts like Uber, MoMA, and Jerry Seinfeld.
Every year, it looks like ABMC’s team won’t be able to outdo themselves; this is the crew that launched Popeyes chicken sandwiches and Kraft Mac and Cheese-flavored ice cream into the stratosphere. But the company topped itself in 2022, placing the Velveeta Martini – their idea – on Stephen Colbert’s TV desk as part of a brand turnaround, winning the massive Pizza Hut account, and snagging work from clients including Activision, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. ABMC still rules in beauty, where the agency started. Its 13,000-square-foot “beauty showroom” is an industry first; and the agency remains AOR for L’Oréal Paris and Charlotte Tilbury, along with new clients including Kiehl’s, Essie Nails, and Garnier.
The year is ending with news of layoffs at the world’s largest independent PR firm. But Edelman also became the first agency to break $1 billion in revenue. And as icing on the cake CEO Richard Edelman appeared on a short list of comms executives sanctioned by Russia. “I consider it a huge badge of honor,” Edelman told PRWeek. “I’m proud of our work in helping get clients out of Russia, which is a great example of the power of PR.” For a 70-year-old agency, Edelman also continues to stretch; in September, with Pharrell Williams, Edelman launched Mighty Dream, a “creative advocacy shop to serve communities of color.” And while not all the attention around the win was positive, Edelman was tapped to rehab Saudi Arabia’s trashed reputation.
The New England Journal of Medicine isn’t the first place you’d expect to see a PR executive’s byline. But managing partner Michael Roth shared credit for a story chronicling The Bliss Group’s breakthrough work for client Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to improve enrollment in two Covid-19 clinical trials. Without getting technical, the campaign involved paid media, influencers, razor-targeted marketing, and old-fashioned earned, and knocked it out of the park for Hopkins. Bliss’ brew of media, marketing, data, research and purpose also helped the firm win clients like CVS/Aetna, Fidelity Investments, and eTrade.
We have limited word counts for each agency description, so we won’t have room for all of Allison’s 2022 account wins. Now a global giant, the 21-year-old firm snagged work from AAA, Athleta, GE Power & Water, Hasbro, Grammarly, Mars Wrigley, Moderna, Poshmark, Sennheiser, and TikTok – and that’s just a partial list. Some of its campaigns became the year’s most talked-about, from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s #MoreForMentalHealth initiative to Corona’s global plastic fishing tournament, which removed over 20 tons of plastic from the ocean and garnered over two billion impressions. If that wasn’t enough, Allison launched its new Allison+Sports and BrandGeist divisions this year.
In 2022, Nate Hinton’s firm continued its ascent from industry disrupter to culture, fashion, and media force with a potent client list. On the roster now of the agency that helped break stars like Public School and Pyer Moss: Bally, under new creative director Rhuigi Villasenor; De Beers Group, whose Global Ambassador Lupita Nyong’o The Hinton Group helped launch; Canada’s Moose Knuckles; and Amazon Luxury Stores for a big 2022 event. Hinton also snagged a major hire in new VP Michelle No, who formerly repped labels like Dries Van Noten, Acne Studios, and Gabriella Hearst at fashion-PR giant PR Consulting.
Real-estate powerhouse M18 keeps growing faster than the high-rise projects it represents. Always a presence in New York, LA, and Miami, the firm’s growing its client footprint across the US and into Mexico, Italy, and the UK. Its developer clients include behemoths like Extell, CIM, Naftali, LeFrak, Related, Rockefeller Group, and Mast Capital; among M18’s client work are history-making developments like Central Park Tower, the nation’s tallest building; the $5 billion, 50-acre Centennial Yards Atlanta project; and Bill Gates-funded, 50-acre Water Street Tampa project. The firm reps enough buildings to fill a phone book, and its hotel business has flourished, with brands like The Nomad, The Line, and The Ned on board.
If there was one New-York-is-back moment this year, the opening party for Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s downtown Tin Building sure felt like it. Magrino orchestrated it, with pageantry (procession of 50 chefs), boldface names (Magrino client Martha Stewart, Questlove, Brooke Shields), and ‘80s-nightclub-flavored spectacle (stilt-walkers, models wearing lampshades, costumed “newsboys”). In 2022, the agency also found time to break into financial services, “curating” lifestyle experiences for new client Bank of America; killed it in real estate, with clients like trophy building One Wall Street and the Ritz-Carlton New York, NoMad; and continued to grow in spirits, hospitality, and beauty.
Some of APCO’s public-affairs and thought-leadership work is so sensitive the firm can’t even talk about it. But the 2022 assignments APCO can mention were highly significant, with implications far beyond its clients. Hyperbole, you say? When Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, APCO helped the Afghan Dreamers find safe departure from Afghanistan and later provided safe passage for over 2,000 Afghans through the ongoing collaboration with the Mexican government. Through a two-day event around sustainability for client IKEA, APCO positioned the company as a leader in forward-thinking corporate activism. And when Audi approached APCO to raise its profile in the EV market, the agency repositioned the brand with a highly effective, multi-pronged program.
In December, The New York Times proclaimed Rockefeller Center “The New York Restaurant Event of the Year.” As the adviser and PR for owner Tishman Speyer around the project, Becca PR can claim some of the credit. Becca Parrish’s 20-person firm continues to blend the blue-chip (Le Bernardin, Rockefeller Center, Ralph Lauren’s hospitality arm, New York multi-hyphenates Roman & Williams) and the white-hot (Chefs Katiana & John Hong of LA’s Yangban Society, Caribbean rum brand Ten to One, Chef Mashama Bailey’s The Grey). Becca PR also launched a consumer packaged-goods division, expanded its hotel roster, and made key hires like Jenny Macksamie (ex-managing editor of The New York Times’ T Magazine) and Meredith Rogers (former VP of Cultural Programming at NeueHouse).
GSG’s brand took a ding when Amazon hired the Democrat-aligned firm to sway sentiment against unions (the agency later said it was “deeply sorry” for taking on the work). Groups like Service Employees International Union cut ties with the agency, but GSG has remained strong, and this year’s big investment from Milan-based comms giant SEC Newgate helped cushion the blow. Controversy aside, there’s no doubting GSG’s effectiveness, and it remains one of the nation’s dominant pollsters. Among 2022’s campaigns: Partnering with America’s Health Insurance Plans to build public pressure on Washington to extend ACA subsidies; creating a multi-platform campaign promoting a new Pratt & Whitney engine; and enhancing thought leadership for the Black Economic Alliance, to the tune of 1.7 billion media impressions.
MWW ended the year by starting a campaign for Poland’s National Bank “to boost awareness in the international community of the actual dimension of the war in Ukraine and the scale of the damages,” according to the company. A major assignment by any measure, and it caps an equally epic year at the 36-year-old firm. A roll call of new clients includes marquee names like Saks Fifth Avenue, Pinterest, Amazon Prime Video, The New York Times, C|Net, and CVS. MWW’s also taken big steps around retention – a huge industry concern – with initiatives like its Digital Accelerator, which trains entry-level employees in strategy and storytelling across platforms. And MWW’s second Women at Work survey with Deloitte generated worldwide attention on the disproportionate impact of lockdowns on working women.
Luxury’s about quality, not quantity. So while there are bigger firms with more accounts and fatter revenue, Meg Connolly’s small agency derives its power by editing — top-end clients, maximum-impact campaigns. Along with its campaigns for Marriott International’s luxury brands, Vik Retreats, and the Maybourne Hotel Group, Connolly and crew excel at partnerships that buoy brands, score coverage, and ricochet across the socials. Examples? Recruiting skateboarding legend Shaun White to offer private instruction at Jackson Hole’s Caldera House; commission designer extraordinaire Alexis Bittar to create the Riggs Washington DC hotel’s holiday tree; and corralling the iconic John Derian to design a suite at Charleston’s The Dewberry. The firm also turned the Ritz Carlton’s Yacht Collection launch into one of the year’s most-covered travel events.
Bospar’s high profile comes from its aggressive, creative work for more than a hundred tech clients, from giant Unisys to telescope maker Unistellar. But founder Sparrer has also led the industry by putting his money where his mouth is around critical issues. Bospar offered to cover medical expenses for out-of-state care after the overturning of Roe v. Wade this year; in 2021, the San Francisco-based firm was the first agency to speak out against the Texas abortion ban, offering the firm’s Texas staff $10,000 in relocation fees if they wanted to leave the state. On the personnel side, Bospar hired former New York Times Pulitzer Prize finalist Peter Kerr to launch a new content division. Bonus: The firm represents San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade and Celebration Committee, Inc., which runs the city’s annual pride march.
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