Comments OffIs 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.

 

Comments OffSomething 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.

 

Comments OffOne 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.

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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.”

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Comments OffFinn 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 Hotels.com
  • 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.

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Comments OffThe 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.

 

 

Comments OffWhat 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.

 

Comments OffStyle & Substance: An Inspired Convergence

Inspiration can come from many sources, and as we go about the business of servicing clients, developing strategies and executing programs, opportunities arise that both inspire and impel us towards our very best work.  Such is the case in our work with American couturier and ready-to-wear designer, B. Michael.  As the newly-appointed agency of record to this venerated luxury brand that is coveted by the most stylish women around the world, Finn Partners was charged with managing all aspects of communication surrounding B. Michael’s Fall/Winter 2013 Couture during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

It was literally lights and cameras as our team – Cherelle Washington, Deanna Rakowsky, Kelsy Goldsmith and yours truly – sprang into action.  With the support of other FP team members, including Lyndon Taylor, Lindsay Bubbico and Amy Chang, we managed and wrangled VIPs for the front row and backstage access, facilitated a robust schedule of live interviews and oversaw check-in for more than 400 attendees. The long nights of seating planning, list management and media strategizing all culminated when 32 extraordinary looks came down the runway, evoking audible gasps from the assembled crowd of industry insiders, luminaries and Top Ladies of New York.  Upon the show’s exciting finale, B. Michael, the Master Couturier who has broken color barriers and risen to the top of the fashion world and competitive retail landscape, received a standing ovation.  There were literally no words.  Indeed, B. Michael’s creativity, artistry and commitment to flawless execution were a marvel to behold, a beacon on a dark winter’s evening and above all a source of inspiration for all of us.

Next up: launching the new b. Michael America Red ready-to-wear collection at Macy’s.  I know we are all up for the task.  #Inspiration.

 

 

Comments OffCreating a Peace Network in Kashmir

As some of you know, I created a not-for-profit organization 10 years ago called Global Peace Initiative of Women. Since its founding I have worked with young people and leaders from many different sectors of society around the world to foster peace initiatives in troubled global hot spots. I view this as part of the way in which I give back to the world.

We at Finn Partners talk about ourselves as global citizens, and about being people who care about the welfare of others.  It is very important that these thoughts and wishes be realized through concrete actions.  That is why I have devoted so much of myself to this effort.  I know that Peter and I share this commitment to giving back to the world and I also know that so many of the Finn Partners staff feel the same way.

I thought I should share my latest effort in this area:

For the past few months I have been working to organize a dialogue with young professionals from Kashmir, India. Since the independence of India and the creation of Pakistan, Kashmir has been one of the disputed areas, with part of it under Indian control and part under the control of Pakistan. Since independence, India and Pakistan had fought several wars over Kashmir, and there have been ongoing incidents of violence.

As part of my global peace work, I  made several trips to Kashmir, India,  and in a recent visit had been introduced to a very talented young man who had created a peace network of young people. Some of the young people in his network had been involved in the conflict. I was impressed by his use of the media to promote messages of peace. Kashmir stands at a critical juncture.

The young people are tired of conflict and there is a sense that the jihadist and separatist movement that has torn the region apart these last few decades is weakening. The young people now have a chance to shift the energy from the political to the social and economic. And  we found that this is what they desperately want. Two weeks ago my team and I sat with about 200 young Kashmiris at a gathering in Srinigar that we had organized, and we listened to their concerns and hopes for the future.

There was little talk of political independence but much talk of the environmental degradation that has taken place over the last decades. Not too long ago Kashmir was considered to be one of the paradises of the world, known for its natural beauty and artistic culture. As we listened to the young people talk about the pollution in Dahl Lake, the dying rivers, the deforestation, the air pollution, the loss of farm land,  we realized that their concerns were immediate and practical.

During our two days together they discussed a new development paradigm, ecologically based, that will help heal and bring the region together. It was an important first step. The young people asked for our assistance is helping them continue their dialogue. They formed a working group, which we will help facilitate.

Our hope is that we can continue to inspire them to use their energies for the building of a new Kashmir, prosperous and ecologically healthy.

 

Comments OffHow Much is too Much and Who Decides?

The cost of healthcare is not the only issue driving the emotion of the current election cycle, but it is a critical topic. Who pays, how much and at the expense of whom? The on-going debate that has still not yielded a satisfactory answer recently saw Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center weigh in.

Pharmaceutical giants make record profits in the United States around a pool of drugs that is increasingly perceived as meeting the needs of the developed world. This leaves the developing and under-developed worlds to continue its suffering from illnesses and diseases not seen here in decades (think dysentery). At the same time, the industry argues, vast distribution of medicines to these same second- and third-world geographies would not be possible if it didn’t make money somewhere (think HIV/AIDS). Additionally, the focus on cost rarely makes the billion dollar plus investment of bringing a new therapeutic to market part of the equation.

So the debate rolls on, but with a twist. Last week Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center announced that it would not cover Zaltrap, a colorectal cancer drug marketed by Sanofi and Regeneron. Three esteemed physicians explained their rationale in a New York Times op/ed — “In most industries something that offers no advantage over its competitors and yet sells for twice the price would never even get on the market.  But that is not how things work for drugs.”

The growing sense of urgency to control spiraling healthcare costs is reflected: “Ignoring the cost of care, though, is no longer tenable,” the doctors wrote. “Soaring spending has presented the medical community with a new obligation. When choosing treatments for a patient, we have to consider the financial strains they may cause alongside the benefits they might deliver.”

Now a leading cancer institution officially weighs in on the cost/benefit discussion of therapeutics, and its physicians take valuable time to position the argument. This exemplifies everyone’s concern – care should be at the center of healthcare, not money. So how far do we have to go before someone takes ownership of this discussion? More importantly, how soon will they do it?

 

Comments OffFinn Partners Travels to Jamaica

My name is Michaela Barnes and I’m an Associate in the Finn Partners Travel and Economic Development group. Last week Michelle Horn, Managing Associate in the Travel and Economic Development division, and I escorted a group of nine ‘mom bloggers’ from the U.S. and Canada on a press trip to Jamaica. The Jamaica Tourist Board has been a Finn Partners’ client for over 10 years now, so you can imagine the number of press trips and varied media our team has traveled with. However, the camaraderie amongst these 11 women was what made this trip extraordinary.

After spending four days listening to each of their inspiring stories, helping them face their fears and laughing until we had tears in our eyes, we had created some amazing new friendships with each and every one of them. Below are some photos of our most memorable bonding experiences.