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In 2014, a successful battle against kidney cancer prompted Alex Slater (a veteran of Glover Park and SKD Knickerbocker) to found Clyde Group as a purpose-driven firm with a specific focus on media relations and crisis communications. PRovoke Media’s 2021 Boutique Agency of the Year, Clyde Group continues to show impressive growth and a slew of new initiatives focusing on such critical areas as DE&I, distributed working, pro bono activity and social impact.
Clyde Group operates out of its Washington headquarters.
Between 2019 and 2021, Clyde Group has more than doubled its annual revenue from $3.85 million to just over $9.3 million in 2021, exceeding its revenue target of $7.3 million. Last year, the firm’s fee income rose by an eye-catching 72%, thanks to the addition of 25 new accounts and projects. Headcount grew from 30 to 52. New business came from TechNet, Weyerhauser, Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, California App-Based Work Coalition, Protect Democracy and Mobile Voting Project, which joined an existing client roster featuring Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute, National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program, Ipsos, Sallie Mae, Gilead, Navy Federal Credit Union, George Mason University School of Business and GMU College of Humanities and Social Science.
Founding partner Alex Slater is supported by partner/COO Aubrey Quinn, who has helped oversee considerable growth at the firm since 2016. MDs Anthony LaFauce, Matt House and Lisa Josephy lead the firm’s digital, public affairs and healthcare practices respectively. 2021 saw Clyde Group publish its first IDEA (Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, & Accountability) Report, a transparent accounting of the firm’s accomplishments and shortcomings in DEI. Clyde Group’s attention to employee mental health included digital boundary setting to enhance work-life fit, closing for the last week of December and making it a policy going forward, and soliciting open and honest feedback through the IDEA report.
Clyde’s thought leadership work has included helping clients, as well as associations, prepare for the metaverse age through education and showing tangible ways to leverage opportunities. Slater’s work included helping Washington’s Whitman Walker Health become a leader in working with underserved LGBTQ+ organizations, and helping Asylum Works provide critical services for Washington-based refugees and asylum seekers cut off from their communities because of sexual orientation. Clyde’s major 2021 work included helping the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program recruit an unprecedented one million participants to better represent the complete population of the US. The firm’s public affairs team worked with clients expanding voting access, resisting misinformation around electoral integrity, making housing more affordable and accessible, holding police departments accountable, and fighting for people incarcerated without fair trials.
— Diana Marszalek
In 1903, California made the poppy its state flower, and the first public relations office was opened. But a poppy needs a challenge to reach its full potential, explaining the reasoning behind the name of 1903 Public Relations, which began life in 2019. The firm, founded by CEOs Katherine Verducci and Santiago Villegas brings a welcomingly diverse profile to the world of enterprise, B2B and technology PR, helping to drive more inclusive stories in a technology industry that has sometimes struggled to highlight underrepresented voices.
The firm’s seven employees operate nationally, but much of 1903's work focuses on California's technology markets.
1903 doubled in size in 2021, with its DEI credentials reflecting an ability to drive technology stories for an underrepresented segment of the industry. For Bitwise Industries’ $27m Series A raise, the largest for a female, LGBTW, LatinX-led company, 1903 realised that the story was not being covered as straight business news. Accordingly, the firm stripped out the feminine pronoun from its outreach, addressing intrinsic bias and ultimately helping to drive a larger conversation, including coverage in The Atlantic, Fast Company, Forbes, Fortune and Bloomberg TV. In addition to Bitwise Industries and Bitwise Ventures, the firm’s clients include IP Infusion, Acuity Brands, Atrius, FMG Suite, Agency Revolution, the City of San Luis Obispo and Vinotemp.
As a female, LatinX and LGBTW-founded agency, 1903 was built around a culture of inclusion, and focuses much of its work on securing coverage for diverse and ‘non-traditional’ clients.
Villegas is a leadership network writer for Entrepreneur magazine, as well as a Forbes Council member, focusing on DEI, workplace wellness and best practice for business and PR management. Verducci, meanwhile, speaks regularly to represent female and LGBTW entrepreneurs. In addition to its work for Bitwise Industries, which have since expanded to encompass its Series B funding and a TED talk, campaign highlights include Acuity Brands’ return to airports; SMASH’s appointment of its first Black female CEO; and positioning insurance player Agency Revolution as an industry thought leader.
— Arun Sudhaman
Growing rapidly as a tech PR firm since it was founded in 2016, ARPR has developed a distinctive offering that combines sophisticated demand generation capabilities with PR, content marketing and social media on behalf of clients in the cloud, cybersecurity, fintech and health IT industries. Specific expertise includes data and measurement, crisis communications, social/media training and virtual trade show engagement and lead generation, adding up to considerable depth across key technology sectors.
The firm’s 24 employees operate nationally, with a particularly strong focus on the South East, including Atlanta and New Orleans.
ARPR submitted 33% growth to $3.2m in 2021, with new business led by Auvik, Aumni, Cynerio, Deliver Health, Instant Financial, HHA Exchange, Prevedere and SonicWall. They join an existing client roster that features CPG, Eroad, GeothinQ, Intellerad, Paysend, Rimidi, RxBenefits, Sovos, SpecOps and Updox.
Founder and CEO Anna Ruth Williams is supported by chief operations and people officer Blair Broussard and EVP Renee Spurlin, with the trio overseeing a strong cultural offering that enabled the firm to move from survival and rebuilding to rapid growth in 2021. The firm expanded its digital marketing team, elevated its minimum retainer size and expanded its inbound marketing strategy, with 52% of the team receiving promotions last year. 25% of the team hail from ethnic minority backgrounds, part of a commitment that includes an expanded, formalized DEI program, which includes training and economic empowerment programs.
For the past four years, ARPR has produced original data that investigates untapped tech marketing topics, with 2021’s effort focusing on IT buyers and software sales teams at a time when tradeshows and in-person meetings were canceled. Campaign highlights included internal influencer work for Quickbase, website traffic and domain authority for RxBenefits, and virtual trade shows for Updox.
— Arun Sudhaman
The healthcare boom has been kind to many firms, not least LaVoieHealthScience (LHS), which brings two decades of experience in strategic communications across a wide range of therapeutic areas, including rare disease, oncology, opthalmology, medtech, gene therapy, cell therapy and more. The firm’s focus on complex healthcare challenges is supported by a specialized team led by Donna LaVoie, featuring expertise in health/science innovation, strategy consulting, investor relations, corporate communications and marketing support.
The firm’s 24 employees operate nationally from a Boston base, and are also active in Asia and Europe.
LaVoieHealthScience (LHS) grew 18% in 2021 to $5.7m, with growth averaging 24% annually since 2018. Most of that is driven by organic client expansion across public and investor relations, for a client base that includes AC Immune, Poseida Therapeutics, TG Therapeutics, Binx Health, Outlook Therapeutics, GRO Biosciences, Pavmed, Hibiscus Bioventures, Samsung Bioepis and Visus Therapeutics.
LaVoie is supported by a leadership team that features Kristi Bruno and Anthony Berry, and — like many firms — has implemented a hybrid workforce model to help its employees navigate the challenges of the pandemic.
LHS Immersion, the firm’s message development and positioning platform, has seen specific growth during the pandemic. Campaign highlights include LHS’ partnership with Samsung Bioepis, which included a series of expert panels that helped the company navigate the hurdles facing biosimilars in the US when it comes to policymakers, patient advocates, prescribers and other key stakeholders.
— Arun Sudhaman
Verge Scientific Communications was launched in 2016 as a PR firm specifically for emerging and pioneering health care companies — the kind of organizations that invent new therapies, technologies and products that have real-life impact. Spending the ensuing years establishing itself in health and science communications, all while remaining true to being a purpose-driven company, has paid off, with the firm more than doubling in size and revenue in 2021.
Verge has team members in Washington, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Austin, Philadelphia, Denver and St. Louis.
2021 was a tremendous year for Verge, more than doubling its revenue and its team, while expanding into sectors beyond its core, life sciences. In just 12 months, the firm grew its fee income from $4.5 million to $10.1 million — a 124% year-over-year lift over 2020. Verge’s headcount rose from 13 to 35. That growth has been fueled by new business from a host of companies — P&G FemCare, Axiom, TRISH, Voyager Therapeutics, Chroma Medicine, Creyon Bio, Eliem Therapeutics and Right Brain (M13) among them. New areas of focus include agro-biotech, consumer science, aerospace science and more.
As the Covid pandemic persisted, Verge doubled down on supporting its people, holding more frequent one-to-one check-ins, in-person gatherings when possible and a focused emphasis and programming on overall health and wellness. An overarching theme was teaching team members to recognize and care for each other. Employee resources included corporate chaplain, telehealth and free counseling through Justworks. A woman, minority-owned firm, Verge in 2021 established three areas to of focus to promote DEI: continue to cultivate: continue to cultivate a diverse and inclusive culture; integrate DEIB efforts into agency operations and across the employee journey; and formulate a POV to counsel clients on DEIB communications given the increase in our work in employee engagement and responsibility to serve well. Founder and managing partner Lissette Steele oversees Verge along with partner Amanda Sellers, managing director Darby Pearson and senior director Sarah Parsoneault.
In 2021, Verge was engaged by Umoja Biopharma to shape the company’s scientific story, brand and communications strategy around its unique science: using the patient’s own body to manufacture cancer therapy. Creating a personalized campaign under the tagline Your Cure included brand identity, corporate strategy, scientific visuals and social media strategy.
— Diana Marszalek
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