2017 RANKING & REVIEWS
TOP RANKING PR FIRMS
Intro: Finding the Best PR Agencies & Top 6 Public Relations Firms
The following top 6 PR firms are proven experts — they know how to analyze the status of an organization, create the necessary messages, and send out those stories through the proper media channels.
Award Emblem: Best PR Agencies & Companies
The following top 6 PR companies follow similar patterns in how they help their clients, but they also distinguish themselves. For example, all of these top PR firms dedicate themselves thoroughly to aiding their clients — but these best PR firms express different ideals in how to do this.
Case in point, one of these top PR firms takes pride in adhering to rigid codes of ethics, while another focuses on pursuing a high level of outlandish creativity.
As we’ll see, these PR companies offer similar services, but these best PR firms custom tailor their services, too. Also, several of these top 6 PR firms distinguish themselves simply through their past work history and clever insights.
AdvisoryHQ’s List of Top 6 Best PR Firms
List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that advisor):
AdvisoryHQ’s Selection Methodology
What methodology does AdvisoryHQ use in selecting and finalizing the firms, services, and products that are ranked on its various top rated lists?
Please click here “AdvisoryHQ’s Ranking Methodologies” for a detailed review of AdvisoryHQ’s selection methodologies for ranking top rated firms, products, and services.
Top PR Firms
Table: Best 6 Top PR Firms | above list is sorted alphabetically
Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best PR Agencies
Below, please find the detailed review of each firm on our list of top PR companies. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these top PR firms to score so highly in our selection ranking.
Image Source: Top PR Agencies
All-in-One Change Management Tools
Top Rated Toolkit for Change Managers.
Get Your Change Management Tool Today...
Burson-Marsteller is one of the top PR firms. It is headquartered in New York City, operating a total of 67 main offices and 71 affiliate offices spread out over 98 countries on six continents.
Image Source: Burson-Marsteller
This best among PR agencies follows a clear set of ideals when providing its diverse services. However, this best PR firm stands out because it has executed several “firsts” in the PR world.
Key Factors That Enabled This Firm to Rank as a Top 2017 PR Firm
Below are primary reasons we selected Burson Marsteller to be rated as one of this year’s top PR agencies.
For Burson-Marsteller, “Being More” is founded on creating dynamic relationships between companies, people, and governments, as well as between organizations and the media. To this PR firm, partnerships must stimulate conversations that can lead to actual change in the world.
This PR firm ensures that its employees follow its Code of Values, which includes the following: adhering to pertinent laws; adhering to all industry codes that this PR firm has signed; and adhering to a higher standard of ethical conduct.
Aside from this PR firm’s Code of Values, Burson-Marsteller also appreciates the importance of embracing other fundamental themes: transparency, honesty, confidentiality, integrity, and excellence.
This best PR agency offers a total of 13 service categories, offering companies plenty of options in how they want to customize their PR services.
Of these categories, “Burson-Marsteller Advantage Women” stands out as unique. In this global service, they focus on helping companies or organizations take full advantage of the benefits associated with closing the gender gap and creating more opportunities for women to rise as leaders.
This service will do several things:
- Build credible diversity into a company’s key goals to help messages resonate externally and internally.
- Provide leadership and personal development expertise to women to help their careers.
- Share the latest ideas about the importance of closing the gender-leadership gaps within a company’s management, as well as the benefits of retaining and progressing female talent.
A Series of “Firsts”
One thing that distinguishes this top PR firm is its series of “firsts” — that is, the fact that it was the first to do several things in the world of public relations, which shows an aptitude for innovation.
Burson-Marsteller was the first of the top PR firms to conduct crisis training for a client, which it did for Owens-Corning Fiberglass.
In 1979, Burson-Marsteller established a healthcare specialty, another first for the PR industry. At first, this specialty focused on serving manufacturers of ethical prescription drugs. This PR firm also worked with the FDA for the sake of instituting proper guidelines that would, essentially, provide customers with the appropriate information about the drugs they were being prescribed.
This one of the best PR firms stands out for its clear adherence to high ethics; this PR firm follows three different codes of conduct, documents that the company itself has developed to help guide its employees. Also, this PR firm stands out for its active pursuit of engaging in conversations that focus on current trends in public relations.
Key Factors That Enabled This Firm to Rank as a Top 2017 PR Agency
Below are some of the critical reasons we were able to name Edelman as one of this year’s top PR companies.
Clear Code of Ethics and Practice
This PR firm’s Code of Ethics and Business Conduct provides comprehensive expectations for its employees and emphasizes a commitment to servicing and counseling to all stakeholders. This PR firm’s Day-to-Day Situation Guide complements the above document by addressing specific issues that might occur in the PR industry.
This PR firm follows exemplary ethical standards when third parties are hired, as espoused in this PR firm’s Code of Ethics for Suppliers and Service Providers. This document makes sure that freelancers, subcontractors, suppliers, and others comply with this PR firm’s high standards in all dealings related to Edelman.
This best PR agency also maintains high standards for its online behavior, using its Digital Code of Conduct, which is updated every year to keep pace with the fast-changing digital world. This PR firm’s online guidelines adapt to reflect these constantly emerging behaviors in the online world.
A Diverse Breadth of Expertise
Edelman is highly knowledgeable about a diverse range of forms of PR communications. This PR firm claims to be experts in 34 separate categories. Their field of expertise is extensive, ranging from business-to-business communications, CEO transition communications, litigation communications, all the way to consumer health and wellness, start-up development, and social media marketing.
This PR agency has implemented its diverse expertise in a wide variety of campaigns. For example, this PR firm worked with the American Lung Association to launch a campaign, titled LUNG FORCE, that would spur consumer interest and fundraising. The campaign met with great success: 1.5 impressions across social media, next to gathering millions of dollars from sponsors.
The PR firm also helped Starbucks on its 40th anniversary. Starbucks wanted to express a return to its core values, so they hired Edelman, and the PR firm executed a five-stage plan to lead the way. The campaign met with great success: total revenue saw an 11 percent increase over the previous year, and consumer interest shot up 40 percent.
This PR firm ensures that it maintains “conversations” on the relevant landscapes. In this section of its website, this PR firm provides blog posts for several categories that cover a wide range of topics, and these posts portray Edelman employees’ opinions.
For example, Edelman Digital covers news on insights and trends occurring in digital landscapes and social media. In Research Insight, Edelman’s leaders share interesting news or data, along with their interpretations, to help develop certain business strategies.
This pick among the top 6 public relations firms was founded in 1946, based in St. Louis, Missouri. This PR agency has more than 85 offices spread throughout 30 countries.
As we’ll see, this PR firm’s main slogan, “The Power of True,” is quite unique, making it stand out in this review of these top 6 PR firms. What’s more, this PR firm offers several unique practices, which add to its distinction.
Image Source: FleishmanHillard
Key Factors That Enabled This Firm to Rank as a Top 2017 PR Agency
Below are some of the elements we found compelling enough about FleishmanHillard to name it one of this year’s best PR firms.
The Power of True
Back in 2013, FleishmanHillard rebranded itself with a new name (the PR firm used to be called Fleishman, Hillard & Associates), a new logo, and — most importantly — a new philosophy: “The Power of True.” This slogan and philosophy represents the PR firm’s decision to integrate public relations with new forms of advertising — in particular, social media marketing — to become one of the world’s top PR firms.
Besides the general plan to integrate new digital forms of advertising, the philosophy is also founded on emphasizing the importance of respect, teamwork, ethical behavior, and transparent business practices.
To help support its new philosophy, this PR agency created True, its online magazine. The goal was to provide a place in which academics, executives, practitioners, and authors can debate, analyze, propose innovations, and observe best practices.
This PR firm deals in a wide variety of practices for different sectors. It advertises a total of ten practices, from brand marketing to research analytics, and a total of eight sectors, from healthcare to technology sectors.
However, this PR agency goes beyond its main practices by providing a total of 14 specialty products. The PR firm does this because it understands that companies’ communication needs are often diverse and unique, thus requiring customization.
For example, this PR firm’s “Celebfluence” is a research product that helps identify which celebrities would likely generate the most consumer attention for a certain brand. The final product creates a celebrity’s bio, online presence and sentiment rating, awareness score, and a summary of recent articles that regard the celebrity.</span
Another interesting product of this PR firm is the “A.R.C. Proving Grounds.” This product is, essentially, a training exercise that incorporates FleishmanHillard’s expertise in crisis management. The product provides to clients the simulated challenges of a real crisis, replete with all the twists and turns.
This PR firm was established in 1919 and is headquartered in New York, and it has offices in 70 countries.
Ketchum stands out from other PR companies for its unique slogan, in a similar manner to FleishmanHillard; however, Ketchum’s main slogan takes quite a different vein, as can be seen in examples of its fun and wacky history.
Key Factors That Enabled This Firm to Rank as a Top 2017 PR Firm
Below are some of the most significant reasons we selected Ketchum as one of year’s best PR companies.
“Break Through” and Core Principles
For this PR firm, its brand promise is to “break through.”
In other words, this PR firm doesn’t restrict itself to the status quo or any other canned practices. Ketchum rewards fearless creativity and humor — no matter how outlandish — because they believe that funny and fresh ideas inspire communication.
However, this PR agency balances its main slogan with its core principles and depth of expertise.
This PR firm is founded on helping companies define their visions by gathering and reporting results, all for the sake of making a greater impact:
- Develop programs that enhance or refine a company’s initiatives, for the sake of making a greater impact on regional or global realms
- Analyze a company’s commitments (whether potential or existing), actions, and performances. Align a company’s efforts with global innovations and trends, as well as with stakeholder expectations
- Provide resources, counsel, and hands-on communication strategies
- Develop strategic sustainability platforms
- Measure results that regard a brand’s health and corporate reputation
Having such clearly delineated goals helps this PR firm balance its services with its main slogan, “Break through.”
Areas of Expertise and Services
This PR firm provides a wide variety of services — a total of 39, in fact. One of this PR firm’s unique services is to develop strategies that will engage “Generation Z” with designated brands. Ketchum regards Generation Z as the post-Millenial cohorts who contribute about $44 billion to the U.S. economy and affect about $600 billion in family spending.
In 2015, this PR firm launched its first “tranZition Study” to help describe this emerging generation, and the report describes the qualities that separate Generation Z from Millenials and 15 forces that shape their minds.
Digestible Science is another service of this PR agency that catches the eye. According to the PR firm, engineers, doctors, and scientists are coming up with solutions to challenging problems, but they don’t know how to share them. Ketchum came up with Digestible Science to help disseminate such research or technical solutions. They make use of a wide variety of tools — such as infographics, speeches, and social media engagement opportunities — to share the information with the public.
This PR agency’s slogan “break through” is certainly reflected in its work history. For example, this PR firm and Kimberly-Clark (a global personal care company) asked people to #TossTheTube, to bring attention to Scott Naturals® Tube-Free toilet paper. People were asked to simply not throw away their tube rolls; rather, they were asked to participate in building a 1,000 pound replica of the Empire State Building, in addition to a pledge drive.
Following the event, the construction was displayed at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan for several weeks. Sales in the New York Metro Area were up 41 percent afterward. The campaign lasted for 10 weeks, generating 113 million impressions and 18,000 media stories.
Another interesting event was the A1 Sony Xperia Go Outdoor Challenge, in which Ketchum challenged Facebook fans to come up with crazy endurance tests for the phone.
The PR agency zeroed in on five tests, which included blasting the phones with a fire hose and driving over it. The tests where edited into a single video, in which the phone survived all of the tests, and it went viral. The carrier sold about twice as many phones as it had forecasted.
MSL Group Review
This choice of the best PR agencies actually originated in Paris, France; it was founded in 1938. This PR firm has over a hundred offices spread out among 26 countries, and it has over 3,000 employees. In addition, it works with a quarter of the world’s top 100 brands.
This PR firm stands out among PR companies because of its core approach, which relies on certain key insights. What is more, this PR firm provides simple yet astute insights into emerging phenomena.
Key Factors That Enabled This Firm to Rank as a Top 2017 PR Firm
Below are some of the elements we found compelling enough about the MSL Group to name it one of this year’s best PR agencies.
This PR firm aims to connect clients with target audiences by creating engaging information that is highly relevant.
Thus, this PR firm focuses on refining its listening skills and engagement skills. Its research must provide crucial insight and comprehension so that accurate plans can be constructed. This PR firm leads its clients’ organizations and brands through the campaign construction to narrative creation, then to approaching and engaging consumers — with the end goal of forming long-lasting communities.
The company emphasizes that today’s world consists of real-time marketplaces, both online and offline, in which people are happy to engage with other people or companies’ brands, for the sake of conversing or sharing information — but people are willing to give their time and attention only when companies or brands provide relevant material or value.
Practices and Industries
This PR firm sweeps practices into 10 main groups that sound easy enough to understand: digital and social media, technology, financial communications, and so forth. What’s more, this PR agency advertises that it works in 16 different industries, and these industries, like the practices, are just what you would expect: automotive, sports, technology, travel and tourism, entertainment, and so forth.
Where this PR agency shines, however, is in how it looks at simple things.
Clever yet Simple Insights
This PR firm shines in how it interprets seemingly innocent phenomena. To capture these interpretations, this PR firm runs a blog that has innumerable articles on interesting tidbits that have the potential to be much more.
For example, the article “Food as a Beauty Product” takes a close look at the growing practice of food photography, which is turning food into something of a status symbol and beauty product, something that communicates opinions or projects certain lifestyles. This habit is becoming more and more prevalent thanks to mobile devices; when people take photos of meals at their favorite places, they are essentially making a social comment.
The article ends by saying that food marketers, when investing in food photography, need to focus on capturing the fantasy of something that is extraordinary and sumptuous yet attainable.
The blog has many other insightful articles covering everything from driverless cars to the implications that stem from the emergence of virtual reality and how it can affect brands’ storytelling, especially in regard to cultivating/sharing empathy.
Popular Article: What Is Yelp? – Yelp Review (Business Yelp & Advertising Review)
Weber Shandwick Review
This PR firm is the youngest of the PR companies on our list; it was established in 2001 by merging three companies: the Weber Group, Shandwick International, and BSMG. This PR firm’s network is connected to a total of 126 cities throughout 81 countries.
Image Source: Weber Shandwick
This PR firm makes this top 6 list of PR companies because it has a clear understanding of how marketing is rapidly changing and how audiences tend to react. This PR firm also offers some unique practices and specialties.
Key Factors That Enabled This Firm to Rank as a Top 2017 PR Company
Below are some key features we used to rate Weber Shandwick as one of this year’s top PR companies.
This PR firm, in a similar manner to the other best PR companies, realizes that today’s marketing is undergoing a great many changes. This PR firm understands that audiences are actually using various brands to enhance their own storytelling; in the past, brands used to control most of the narratives.
To this PR firm, storytelling must be genuine, relevant, and personal; what’s more, content must be original, provacative, and irrestible.
This PR agency clearly states its goals. It aims to inspire and incite companies by shaping new and exciting ideas. This PR firm brings a high level of commitment and expertise to its brands. It encourages target audiences to think or act in new ways, ways that promote long-lasting connections with its clients.
After researching with practice groups, this PR firm uses its expertise to engage audiences with compelling content that instills emotional responses which promote participation.
Practices and Specialties
This PR firm advertises 16 practices and 17 specialties. Of the practices, this PR firm’s “Cleantech” stands out as a unique category. In this practice, this PR firm’s experts provide refined thought leadership and communications for major corporations, start-ups, and similar organizations that are guiding the resource economy of the 21st century.
In the specialties category, “Emergent China” catches the eye. Among its many specialties, this PR firm advertises itself as being an expert in helping China’s emerging markets connect with the rest of the world.
In this PR firm’s opinion, expanding political, social, and economic contact between China and the world has faced several challenges. Weber Schandwick helps such emerging Chinese companies by providing strategic expertise in several areas, such as technology, real estate, and life sciences.
This PR firm, like the others, has had some remarkable performances. For example, in 2012, Unilever (a multinational provider of consumer goods) hired this PR firm to help introduce Simple, a new line of products for facial skincare, to U.S. markets.
To begin, Weber Schandwick positioned Simple as the expert in sensitive skin care products. For the basis of communication with the public, this PR firm focused on describing skin-irritation triggers and situated Simple as the solution.
In the first year, they leveraged social media to generate public awareness for the product; moreover, well-established beauty bloggers were recruited to help spread the word. In the second year, this PR firm recruited actress Allison Williams for a campaign that promoted Simple’s holistic approach to keeping skin healthy.
The results? This PR firm’s efforts and strategy resulted in generating exceptional brand awareness, in which the recruitment of Allison Williams played a huge role. Since the 2013 launch, this firm’s PR efforts have gathered more than 646 million impressions and 917 placements.
Conclusion—Top 6 PR Companies
In this review of the best PR companies, we can see similarities and differences among our top picks. All of these PR agencies explain clearly their principles and dedication to their clients, but they do so in unique ways. FleishmanHillard separates itself by its slogan “The Power of True,” while Ketchum does so with its equally unique “break through” slogan.
Edelman, on the other hand, clearly states how it adheres to certain codes of conduct, which should be appreciated in today’s changing marketing landscape. That is, these codes of conduct can be seen a reliable means of navigation through changing tides.
All of these best PR firms seem to appreciate that today’s marketing world is changing, due in large part to the digital world and social media. In response, these top 6 public relations firms are always considering new ways in which to connect with target audiences. What’s more, we see that these top PR companies offer many similar services in a wide variety of categories or industries but, in addition, some of these top 6 public relations firms have created several unique services to adapt to the unique needs of today’s businesses.
Some of these top PR firms stand out for their work histories. Ketchum shows how a little fun and creativity can generate tons of attention, while Weber Shandwick shows how recruiting a single celebrity and using them properly can effectively spread awareness of a product line.
In regard to past work, Burson-Marsteller stands out as well. This PR firm holds several “firsts” under its belt; it was even the first of these PR agencies to be established. This PR agency’s rich, deep history sets it apart as a grandfatherly figure, a solid structure that has weathered many challenges successfully.
In the end, these best PR firms have been hugely successful. What these PR agencies all have in common is the presence of a unique character and a willingness to dive headlong into the ever-shifting realm of marketing and brand storytelling.
AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer:
Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.
Note: Firms and products, including the one(s) reviewed above, may be AdvisoryHQ's affiliates. Click to view AdvisoryHQ's advertiser disclosures.