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Eight years ago, Day One launched to be the agency that stops the world in its scroll. In less than a decade, the creative firm has landed a pile of awards and top-tier clients that prove it did more than make the world stop — it also made the world care and react with work that blends empathy and agility with culture-worthy thinking.
Day One has offices in New York (HQ), Los Angeles, Chicago and Portland, Oregon.
As an earned creative agency, Day One is built around three pillars of storytelling excellence: Shape, Share & Fuel – all core to its creative process. In the past year, however, the firm has also doubled down on developing new and expanding existing offerings to meet clients’ audiences where they are at. New service offerings include Day One Studios, dedicated to all things social storytelling and production; AskGenZ, a platform that allows users to submit questions and get responses from GenZers within 24 hours; and Ones To Know, a dedicated resource designed to elevate underrepresented creators who are driving subculture trends. In 2021, being responsive to rapid change allowed Day One to continue to adapt and focus on growing its retained roster of some of the world’s biggest brands like American Express, Nike, Meta, Chipotle, Ferrara and Maserati. New business from Walmart and Beam Suntory contributed to Day One growing by nearly 50% into a $35 million, 150-person business.
With a remote-hybrid workforce spread across the country, Day One created programming throughout 2021 to keep colleagues connected. The agency launched Fresh Thinking Fridays as a means of addressing burnout by inviting teams to recharge starting at 1 p.m. on Fridays. The agency gave each employee $200 to outfit their workspace with gear from new client Walmart, and another $100 to buy pants worthy of wearing to work. After formalizing its DEI mission and vision in 2019, Day One remains focused on building greater DEI practices across three areas: recruit, engage and advance, resulting in a 46% BIPOC team. At least 50% of candidates for jobs at all levels are BIPOC. To advance existing BIPOC employees into leadership positions, Day One supports them with individualized career paths and support from senior leaders. In 2021, BIPOC representation on Day One’s senior leadership was 21%, its creative department was 54% BIPOC representation and overall female workforce was 73%. Co-founder Josh Rosenberg leads the firm as CEO alongside fellow entrepreneurs Brad Laney and Rob Longert.
Day One programs like American Express’ Takeout Tuesday to support restaurant workers and a Chipotle job fair on Discord which helped bring thousands of people back to the workforce after lockdown had real-life positive impact on people who needed the help. Day One also continued to pioneer trends on new social platforms for clients; the agency recently helped Chipotle to become the first restaurant brand to open a virtual restaurant location on Roblox. Day One’s thought leadership activities include publishing its annual Predictionary — part prediction, part dictionary, with the words agency leaders think will shape and define the upcoming year. The Predictionary sheds light on how brands can tap into these trends and connect to what’s happening in culture.
— Diana Marszalek
Highwire has established a solid reputation as a Silicon Valley PR firm known for consistently good work and strong leadership. Over its 13-year history, its three co-founders have been committed to constantly transforming its offerings around digital and content innovation. Agency principals are Kathleen Gratehouse, Carol Carrubba and Emily Borders.
Highwire has offices in San Francisco (HQ), New York, Chicago and Boston.
For the 116-person shop, revenues grew 21% to $29.3 million, fueled in part by the expansion of digital services the previous year with the acquisition of digital consultancy Wonderscript. In 2021, most Highwire clients (53%) became integrated, taking both PR and digital services. Investing heavily in creative, editorial and social media teams over the past 12 months also played a role in enhancing client programs. The agency added new clients including Zendesk, DigitalOcean, Western Digital and Cala Health. These companies joined existing clients Mr.Cooper, Mite and Splunk.
Highwire’s commitment to diversity bore fruit in 2021 as the agency exceeded its pledged goal of 35% agency-wide diversity by 2022. Ayanna Anderson joined Highwire as its first head of diversity, inclusion and belonging; accomplishments include hosting more than 20 events, including training, agency-wide discussions on topics such as imposter syndrome, microaggressions, and critical race theory. In 2021, Highwire grew to roughly 120 team members, celebrated 48 promotions and implemented competitive salary band increases across every level. Agency-wide growth opportunities included programs on leading with agility, resilience and understanding burnout. The agency created a “Core PR Certification Program” for junior staff to accelerate their understanding of the PR landscape. To fight meeting fatigue, Hotwire implemented monthly “Focus Fridays” when no meetings are scheduled; the firm closes at 3 p.m. every Friday creating “empower hours” to help combat burnout and support balance.
Highwire supported some of the biggest IPOs of the year, while helping healthcare clients
raise the status quo in primary care, establish new treatment pathways for heart disease and type II diabetes and elevate remote care amid Covid surges. For iRhythm, whose cardiac monitoring platform, Zio, delivers better heart health outcomes for millions of patients, Highwire’s integrated program drove awareness and adoption, reaching more patients, increasing brand perception and influencing policy makers. Thought leadership focused on bolstering diversity and inclusion as a standard industry practice. 2012 saw the agency host educational events to foster conversation and inspire change in the PR industry.
— Diana Marszalek
Kivvit was created in October of 2015 through the merger of ASGK Public Strategies and M Public Affairs, with the goal of bringing the tenacity—and results-orientation—of political campaigns into corporate and nonprofit sectors to corporate clients. It is best known for public affairs and issues management work, as well as for its outstanding digital operations—including an investment in proprietary data and analytics that powers its campaigns and enables it to demonstrate real business impact.
Kivvit has operations across the United States, with offices in Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York, New Jersey and Washington, DC.
Kivvit reported a very respectable 13% increase in revenues in 2021, ending the year just a little short of the $40 million mark and consolidating its position as one of the largest independent public affairs firms in the US. Driving the growth was the doubling of the firm’s advertising and research and insights revenue. Kivvit continued its work for blue-chip brands like Abbott, Anheuser-Busch, Google, the New York League of Conservation Voters, Tesla, The Nature Conservancy and the University of Chicago, while adding new assignments from the American Library Association, the Asian American Federation, the National Brain Tumor Society, and Similarweb.
Kivvit expanded its management team and increased the diversity of its leadership corps in 2021, most notably with the addition of four new managing directors: Arielle Goren, an executive and crisis communications expert who previously headed her own firm; Aaron Mays, who also led his own business; Terri Sanders, who joined from HIMSS, where she was chief marketing and communications officer; and Jalisa Washington-Price, a veteran of iHeartMedia and the Biden presidential campaign. The firm also doubled the size of its digital and insights teams. And the firm partnered with DEI consultant Ivy Planning Group and DEI talent firm Offor to ensure that it remained on the leading edge in terms of inclusion.
Kivvit’s best work is driven by insights derived from data—an area in which it excels. This includes a Covid-19 vaccination effort for New Jersey’s Department of Health that included a survey examining all the reasons for vaccine hesitancy and then produced highly targeted messaging that helped the state achieve one of the highest vaccination levels in the country. On the corporate front, meanwhile, Kivvit helped Anheuser-Bush rethink its reputation strategy, focusing on its major economic investments, game-changing commitments to sustainability, and product innovation to maximize favorable opinions. But Kivvit also works on big issues, expanding harm reduction services in New Jersey and securing investment in New York’s disabilities sector. And the firm’s interest in the most critical progressive issues of the day also extends to its own thought leadership, highlighted by research into corporate support for Black Lives Matter.
— Paul Holmes
PRovoke Media’s 2019 New Agency winner, SourceCode continues to impress with its award-winning work and its noteworthy business performance. Former Hotwire execs Greg Mondshein and Becky Honeyman launched SourceCode in the fall of 2017, and it has been on an upward trajectory ever since. The firm last year started ramping up its evolution as an integrated technology communications agency with the launch of its digital strategy practice — and expanded its digital marketing capabilities further with the October acquisition of Chicago creative agency Strike 2. Other big moves include the March launch of WeRaise PR, a full-service agency created to support and advance working moms.
SourceCode operates out of its New York headquarters.
SourceCode’s growth trajectory continued in 2021, during which fee income rose a notable 66% to $8.5 million and headcount grew to 38 from 25 the year before. 2021 saw SourceCode sign 22 new clients — Gorillas, Sunday.com, Featurespace, Serve Robotics, Backblaze, Kinship, and Plume among them, joining existing clients such as Workhuman, Gympass, Everlast, PCI Pal, Pindrop, Blockparty, Jane, Speechmatics, and Rachio.
In 2021, SourceCode continued its drive to support a range of communities within and outside the industry. The March launch of WeRaise PR was among the biggest such moves, creating a full-service PR agency staffed by — and built to accommodate and advance — working moms. SourceCode also continued being a leader among small agencies in supporting women and minority-owned businesses, further growing the Diversity Marketing Consortium created in partnership with the venture fund Harlem Capital Partners and a few other small agencies in 2020. Internally, SourceCode’s efforts around DEI include financially supporting DEI-focused organizations, ensuring its own recruitment and working practices are inclusive and investing resources in amplifying minority voices. Efforts earned co-founder and managing partner Greg Mondshein a place on Crain’s New York’s 2021 list of notables in marketing and PR. Co-founder and managing partner Rebecca Honeyman penned a Fast Company article about abandoning traditional planning cycles.
SourceCode’s thought leadership included its second TrendSights Report, Meaning, exploring the industry’s shift from a focusing on financial performance for key performance indicators to ESG. The report explores ESG concerns and sets out the implications for organizations. The year’s most notable client work included using data, rapid response and contributed content to raise awareness of Callsign in the US and make inroads with key, influential publications.
— Diana Marszalek
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