Finn Partners Named “Midsize Agency of the Year”

The annual US Sabre Awards - run by Paul Holmes - is one of the largest PR industry events. During last night’s event, Paul mentioned that this year marks their 26th year, and I’ve been at just about every one of those events.

Throughout my career, I’ve made presentations to Paul trying to convince him that the agency I was running deserved to be named Agency of the Year in its size category.

Until last night, that had never worked out.

There are many excellent agencies in each size category, and last night, in the company of 800 of the top PR professionals, including a group of us from Finn Partners, Finn Partners was named Midsize Agency of the Year. Richard and I joined Paul on stage to accept the award, and I confessed to Paul that I was in a state of shock.

When we met with Paul to update him on new developments at Finn Partners, we thought hard about what we could tell him that would make a difference. In the end, we talked about our core values, our growth, our people and the clients we serve.

This is a huge accomplishment for all of us. It is one thing for us to feel proud of our work, of our team and of our accomplishments, and it is quite another for one of the most widely followed reporters writing about our industry to say that we are on a very special path.

So, in the three years since our launch, Finn Partners has been named by the Holmes Report “Best New Agency”, “Best Agency to Work For in North America” and now “Midsize Agency of the Year.”



Finn Partners Continues Its Rapid Growth with Two Acquisitions in Nashville, Tennessee

I am very pleased to announce that Finn Partners has come to an agreement to acquire two firms in Nashville, Tennessee. The two firms are Seigenthaler Public Relations and DVL Public Relations & Advertising. The two firms will combine into a new entity which will be known as DVL Seigenthaler, a Finn Partners Company.

The Nashville region’s diverse economy is on a very strong growth track and we are excited to become part of it. The city’s ascendency and its innumerable attributes have been the subject of numerous national news profiles, many of them noting its booming healthcare industry, eclectic cultural scene, rising universities, prime location and welcoming vibe. In fact, a Time magazine story entitled ‘The South’s Red-Hot Town’ articulated what data clearly demonstrate: Nashville “has had the strongest employment growth of any large metropolis since the Great Recession”.

The combined firm will be by far the largest PR agency in Nashville, and will be one of the largest in the entire Southeast region of the United States. Finn Partners will be the only global PR firm with a presence in Nashville, a market that is expanding at a rapid pace, and home to many of the nation’s largest companies. The two firms together have about $11 million in annual fees, and the combined staff will total about 80 people. Their clients include Airbus DS Communications, AMSURG, Bridgestone Americas, Inc., Brown Forman, Electronic Recyclers International, Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, JM Smucker Co., LifePoint Hospitals, Inc., the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority, Nashville Electric Service, Natural Resources Defense Council, Regents Financial Corp., and Singer Sewing Company.

Both DVL and Seigenthaler have terrific teams and will bring important added resources to Finn Partners. Both firms are extremely well known and respected in Nashville. The Seigenthaler family is legendary in that market. Both Ronald Roberts, the CEO of DVL, and Beth Seigenthaler Courtney, the CEO of Seigenthaler PR, serve on many boards of business, education and philanthropic organizations, and have strong relationships with the media, with business leaders and with elected officials in the greater Nashville region.

We believe that the management teams of both firms are a really good fit for the Finn Partners culture. They are very excited about joining Finn Partners, and we are excited to have them become part of our team

DVL has a strong advertising/creative/digital team that will join forces with Finn Partners Digital. All together, we will have about 50 people in our combined digital and creative services department.

With these acquisitions, the overall annualized fees for Finn Partners is about $65 million, and we will grow from 370 to about 450 employees.

With these two acquisitions Finn Partners remains one of the fastest-growing independent US-based PR agencies. We are excited by the path we are on, and look forward to continuing to strengthen our resources so that we can provide our clients with the very best services possible while at the same time offering a great work environment with a clear professional growth path for our employees.


Finn Partners Acquires Johnson King

I am very pleased to announce that Finn Partners has acquired Johnson King, a highly respected European Tech agency. Technology is one of the largest practice areas within Finn Partners, and this move significantly strengthens our global team in this sector. The key word here is “global” – as the Johnson King relationship now expands our team in London, but also extends our physical presence to Paris and Munich, and brings our combined team to 30 across the three offices.

It was only a year ago that Claire Ayles, Flora Haslam and Mike King, the owners of Johnson King, decided that an important next step in the firm’s development was to become part of a larger agency. They spoke with a number of agencies who were interested in acquiring their firm, and I am very pleased that they decided that Finn Partners is the right fit. Throughout our discussions, I have been repeatedly impressed with the deep expertise the Johnson King team has in the technology sector.

I have also been impressed with their culture and commitment to excellence.

Again and again, Johnson King has been named a best place to work in the PR agency world. Mike King and his colleagues share our commitment to creating a positive culture – with opportunities for professional development and growth. It is this shared mission of being a ‘best place to work’ that enables us to retain and attract the best talent, and do our very best work for our clients.

Chantal Bowman-Boyles, whom we hired to open our London office in early 2012, will now head up Europe for Finn Partners, and I’m excited to work with her, the Johnson King team, and all of Finn Partners to continue to build our presence and diversify our practices globally.

Finn Partners officially launched in December of 2011. A spirit of partnership and collaboration have been core drivers of our company vision. Since our launch we have been named “new agency of the year”, “best place to work” and “mid-sized agency of the year”.  We have been listed as one of the fastest growing PR agencies in the world and today we have a staff of 350 working out of 12 offices in key markets around the US and internationally, with strong practices in technology, education, travel and leisure, consumer, public and global affairs, the arts and publishing, all complemented by a very strong digital and creative services team.

We are excited by the path we are on, and look forward to continuing to build Finn Partners into one of the most dynamic PR agencies in the world.

Finn Partners & JK




Finn Partners Acquires gabbegroup

With healthcare and education sectors continuing to provide strategic opportunities for growth and expansion, I am delighted to announce Finn Partners’ acquisition of gabbegroup’s public relations practice, effective today.

Collaboration is at the core of the Finn Partners’ mission, and it is that same commitment and passion for excellence that led Jim Gabbe and Jill Gabbe to build one of the most successful independent specialist agencies in their field. Founded in 1980, gabbegroup is an award-winning firm that will expand our presence in the health and higher education sectors.

I am proud of their track record and their work for some of the world’s best known and preeminent brands. The collective experience, intellectual capital, creativity and enthusiasm this acquisition brings to Finn Partners will enhance the opportunity for a dynamic future of shared success.

Since our launch in December of 2011, Finn Partners continues to be one of the fastest growing independent PR firms in the world, with our growth coming from a combination of winning new clients, growing existing clients, and making acquisitions. With today’s announcement, I continue to believe that Finn Partners is continuing its upward trend. We have one of the strongest, most strategic teams of any independent firm operating today, supported by a culture of collaboration and commitment to being a great place to work.

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Is Detroit the next Brooklyn? The next Silicon Valley? Or even Berlin, Germany

To the outside world, it’s seems popular to jump on the Detroit Resurgence Bandwagon. Shoot, everyone from VP Joe Biden to Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are doing it – and who doesn’t feel good about having an American-made car in the driveway after watching a Chrysler television spot that highlights the can-do attitude of the Motor City set to the heart-pounding tunes of Eminem?

I’m excited and honored to be playing even a small role in what’s happening in and around Detroit. On the heels of our own announcement to join the exhilarating buzz that is the “D,” I do want to set the record straight. You see, by my calculations, I’ve spent roughly 220 days in Detroit in the past two years. I’m no local – but I’m no stranger anymore either. And in my time here, I’ve come to understand that the Motor City is and always has been its very own culture with its very own vibe – no offense, but it doesn’t want to be Brooklyn. And I believe it’s better for it.

From where I sit today – in a open-air, glass office amidst tech start-ups in a collaborative incubator workspace – the city that brought us the modern-day automobile, paved roads, traffic lights and don’t forget Jiffy muffin mix – is heading into yet another exciting era. Finn Partners is joining in on that action not because it’s the trendy thing to do, but because the Detroit I’ve come to know always has – and always will be – a spirited town of hardworking people who won’t give up until they’ve left their mark on the world. And that’s good company to keep.

Peter Finn created Finn Partners on the belief that strong partnerships are the foundation of success.  Detroit, in our opinion, is full of those partners. So let’s do this together, Detroit. We’re looking for good people to join our team and good companies to work alongside in this great city. I hope you’ll allow me to introduce you to our network of 300+ talented individuals and show you what we’re made of- we have a lot in common.


Something New for Your Ears

In 21st century PR, it’s hard to keep up with the news. What with the new social media announcements, industry flip-flops, online evolution, and the two-thousand new services announced every day. The capabilities of your average PR firm are also broadening dramatically. There’s social media strategy, online development, the company blog, community management, blogger relations, search engine optimization. Need I go on?

We’ve been cooking up something new at Finn Partners for the past month. A podcast. Not just a podcast, but the Finncast. It’s our attempt to dissect all of this information in our rapidly evolving industry. Our weekly podcast series is launching today, with a new episode planned every Monday. In each weekly episode we hit on some of the top news items of the week and then discuss one topic in the PR, social or digital space.

Your week-to-week co-hosts will be Alexandra Kirsch and I. And in each episode we will invite on another Finn Partners team member with expertise in the weekly topic to discuss it with us. The topic of discussion in this first week is “Who Should Manage Social Media Advertising?” In it, we are joined by Barry Reicherter, a partner of digital strategy. It’s a great discussion, where we weigh the credentials of marketing agencies, PR agencies and your community manager.

I’m passionate about podcasts and listen to about 15-20 each week, so I’m incredibly appreciative of this opportunity. I hope that passion translates to the enthusiasm we bring to each episode, and the topics we explore. Because ultimately we do this for you, not for us. We want to give you the best PR & digital podcast out there. We want to give you interesting news, knowledgeable insights and great personalities. And we want your feedback to. Tell us what you want us to discuss. Or even if you have questions for us, we’ll answer them on future shows.

You can find our podcast on iTunes, just search for Finncast, and subscribe to have each episode delivered right to you. You can also subscribe to our Podcast feed on Feedburner. Or if you just want to listen to the MP3 for our first episode you can do that as well.

I hope your ears enjoy what we’ve made here. I know we’re excited.


One Finn Partners

One Finn Partners:  Our Shared Culture and Brand.” This was the theme of a recent retreat I attended at the beautiful Hunter Mountains in the Catskills. Representing MEDIA CONNECT, I joined several other members of the Finn Partners family from all over, with representatives coming from as far as Israel and London. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to know people from other offices and learn about the type of work they do, and most importantly, come together to find ways for us to all work together and make Finn Partners stronger as a whole.


Gathered in what was known as the Red Barn (pictured above), we joined together in several sessions to discuss various issues we thought could help contribute to “One Finn Partners.” In one such session, we discussed “food for thought” – each sharing a piece we had recently read that may apply to how we operate. Personally, I discovered that only 19% of US/Canadian workers actually take a lunch break and this actually causes us to be MORE stressed and therefore less productive at work.

In other sessions, we explored practical things we could do more immediately to help create this “one-team spirit of partnership.” One thing that was brought up several times was the importance of expressing gratitude, for both our colleagues and our clients. From acknowledging good clients for being great to work with, to recognizing our own colleagues for their accomplishments, we all agreed that a little thanks goes a long way.  From office “kudos boards” to email shout outs, recognition for hard work really can keep us all stay motivated when we feel overwhelmed (and are therefore not taking the aforementioned lunch break and becoming more stressed out)!

So many great ideas were shared about how our entire group can continue to grow while staying true to the vision of being a great partnership. We all agreed that Finn Partners is a different place. It’s a different culture. And though we realized that there are several other agencies out there with an international presence, ours is one that is unique. In an industry that is often cutthroat and competitive, we stand out as a place that “works hard and plays nice.”



Finn for the Win

Over the the past 18 months we’ve been recognized by the industry by winning a number of awards, nationally and regionally as well. In 2012, we won Best New Agency, followed by the Best Agency to Work For in 2013. And while the industry’s awards season is winding down, this past week has showered us with additional awards, reflecting great work and recognition as a Firm of the Year at the PR News Platinum PR Awards.

In accepting these most recent awards, it was paramount to highlight that each award won is a result of the fantastic team that we’ve built at Finn Partners—300 incredibly accomplished staff members.

On top of our agency-level Firm of the Year win, we also won first place in the Blog category for our work with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, as well 5 other honorable mentions for:

  • Event Marketing, “Bedventure” for
  • Global PR: A Different Future, Victims of our Own Narratives: Israeli-Palestinian School Book Study Addresses Long-Standing Controversy of the Middle East for Finn Partners’ Global Issues group
  • Media Event: “Defrost Your Swimsuit,” handled by M. Silver for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Public Affairs: Up to Us Campaign, a college student competition on debt and deficit issues, developed by Widmeyer Communications for the Peterson Foundation
  • Press Release: “Look Ma, No Hands’: the Future of Autonomous Cars for Finn Partners’ IEEE client

I’m so proud of these latest accomplishments and the outstanding work we continue to do for our clients. These past 18 months we have achieved so much, and I thank each and every one of my Partners for making this possible now, and for many more awards to be garnered in the years ahead.



The Growing Team at Finn Partners


I am very pleased that my good friend Scott Widmeyer has decided to merge his agency, Widmeyer Communications, into Finn Partners.

I have had enormous respect for Scott and his team of professionals for many years, and felt that their focus on doing thoughtful work on important issues made the firm a great fit for Finn Partners.  My hope is that the Finn Partners focus on creating one of the best places to work in the PR agency world will make this an easy transition for the entire Widmeyer team.

Our newest announcement comes on the heels of some pretty exciting developments for Finn Partners since our launch.  Here are some highlights:

  • Internal launch of Finn Partners within Ruder Finn, Inc. with approximately $18 million in fees, January 2011
  • Acquisition of LA-based The Rogers Group, April 2011
  • Official Public Launch of Finn Partners, Dec. 2011
  • Close of first year since internal launch with $23.5 million in fees, representing a 30% growth over our starting level.
  • Finn Partners selected by the Holmes Report as Best New Agency, April 2012
  • Finn Partners announces opening of an office in London, Oct. 2012
  • Finn Partners announces the acquisition of M. Silver, leading travel and economic development boutique, December 2012
  • Finn Partners announces the acquisition of Chicago’s Healy and Schulte, Jan 2013
  • Close of our first year with $32 million in fees, including M. Silver, representing a 36% increase over the prior year.
  • Finn Partners selected by The Holmes Report as Best Agency to Work for in North America
  • Finn Partners announces the acquisition of Widmeyer Communications and sets goal for 2013 fees of $45 million. This would represent a 40% increase over the prior year!

I understand from Scott that the collaborative culture we have built at Finn Partners was a key factor in his decision.  I care about every one of my colleagues and very much want the growth and continued exciting developments at Finn Partners to benefit each and every member of our team. Our first Finn Partners ad proudly displayed the names of the 180 people. Today our team has grown to about 280 working out of our 8 offices.  I hope that they all continue to be excited about their future with the company and believe that at Finn Partners they have the best  opportunity to do outstanding work for great clients, and that they are on a promising career path within our firm.



What Makes Finn Partners the “Best Agency to Work For”

Within 18 months of our official launch, Finn Partners has been named the best PR agency to work for in North America by the Holmes Report. At our agency launch in 2011, I announced to our staff that this was one of our goals, and said up front that this would be an evolutionary process. It was something I aspired to, and I knew that the path was not an easy one. I never expected to achieve this goal so quickly, and the reality is that our work is far from done. It is much easier to lose this distinction than it is to win it. Our management team knows that we have to continue to earn and maintain the trust of our entire team and we have to continue to show them that we consider them true partners.

This award is about more than agency programs and policies; it is a reflection of every team member’s dedication and commitment to our clients, our craft, our agency and to one another. It is truly special to me that our distinction is based on direct input and comments from our team and is based on a survey of 5,000 employees from 60 agencies.

The “best place to work” distinction is important to me for two reasons. One, I care about every one of our employees, and want them to feel respected, inspired, that they are growing professionally and that at Finn Partners they are on a great career path. I love my work, and I want to do what I can to ensure that the others who work here love what they do too.

I also believe that if we create the best culture and work environment, we will attract and retain the best talent in our industry and we will do the very best work for our clients. This is the road to success for us all.

We all know what the workplace statistics say. Harvard Business Review reports that engaged employees are, on average, 50% more likely to exceed expectations than the least-engaged workers. And companies with highly engaged people outperform firms with the most disengaged folks—by 54% in employee retention, by 89% in customer satisfaction, and by fourfold in revenue growth.

Finally, success is not something we achieve by ourselves. It requires collaboration, a word that has defined Finn Partners from day one. That is why this honor really belongs to every single person that works at Finn Partners. That is why I would like to take this opportunity to say to every member of our staff: Thank you. Together, all of you made this happen. You make Finn Partners the Best Place to Work, and as our founding partner, I will never stop looking for ways to make our agency and employee experience the best it can be.