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Bryson Gillette was started by Bill Burton, who served as deputy White House press secretary and special assistant to President Barack Obama. The company was created as an intentionally diverse workplace that would focus on the issues and campaigns that are making the world a better place. After just a short period of time, it has done just that. Working on education reform, social media reform, and projects small and large across economic sectors, Bryson Gillette’s work has been felt on a global scale.
Bryson Gillette operates nationwide with headquarters in Washington and Los Angeles.
Bryson Gillette was founded in January 2020 with two employees and one client as a remote-first organization, allowing the firm to expand its reach, working with clients across numerous cities. Now, with 26 employees across seven states and territories, the agency has the capacity and the ability to bring a diverse perspective to all its work. This includes native Spanish speakers in Puerto Rico and California, allowing for multilingual campaigns. The agency has worked with more than 100 political and public affairs clients including Facebook whistleblower Francis Haugen, The Center for Humane Technology, 1IN4 Coalition, Charles Booker for US Senate and Southern Poverty Law Center.
Burton intentionally built a location-agnostic firm with a focus on finding the most talented and diverse strategists in the country, without being limited to specific cities or regions. Moreover, the firm is intentional about building team culture remotely including a focus on mentoring younger talent through personal attention and growth opportunities as well as one-on-one meetings with senior leaders. Bryson Gillette has also established an internship program that actively recruits students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, building the pipeline of tomorrow’s public affairs and political professionals. The agency’s team is over 50% women and over 50% people of color. In addition to Burton, company leaders include senior VP Sarah Angel, strategic comms head Shira Fine and VPs Rebecca Pearcey and Emily Schwartz.
Bryson Gillette has quickly become a leader in media strategy and developing thought leaders. The firm created and led a global media consortium for Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower, taking a dynamic approach to generate an enormous amount of global media interest. The efforts elevated Haugen to a position that landed her recognition in the president’s State of the Union Address this year. Bryson Gillette also represent Tristan Harris and the Center for Humane Tech and guided them through the release of the Social Dilemma. Together with Netflix, Bryson Gillette coordinated a global communications campaign that delivered the message to millions around the world. The work has helped to drive a cultural reconsideration of technology’s role in our society and the necessity of holding tech companies accountable.
— Diana Marszalek
In late 2020, Alyssa Garnick stepped away from big agency life to Agean Public Relations, with the idea of focusing on a specialty not a sector: brand-building PR. In the short time since, Agean has developed strategies, campaigns, messages, and programs that drive reputation, conversation, coverage, and sales for consumer and personal brands, as well as corporations, offering big agency-caliber services on demand.
Agean is active in New York (HQ), Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle.
For a new business, 2021 was a banner year for Agean, which pitched and won business from Seiko, BNY Mellon, the British government, BD Veritor, Intrepid Travel and Playtika. To generate big business as a new boutique, Agean formed agency alliances with M&C Saatchi Talk and The PR Office in the UK, and The Sway Effect that extend and expand the firm’s capabilities by producing video content, social, influencer programs and design. It also created Agean Airtable Analytics (AAA), a results measurement platform that tracks and assigns dimensions to every single output and values its impact. Now an eight-person shop, Agean’s earned $677,000 in 2021 — its first full year in business — and is projecting $1 million in fees in 2022.
Facing challenges like the talent shortage and Covid, Agean leveraged its independence and newness to be more progressive, to try some unique staffing strategies and rewards, and to position the firm clearly and boldly. Agean is committed to taking the broadest view of diversity and bringing the highest standards of equality to its teams, clients and partners. Garnick is also passionate about financial equality for women and will hold a series of financial seminars for staff featuring female investors and retirement planners to discuss ways team members can save, invest and ensure that they are set up to be financially independent for their whole lives.
Garnick co-created and produced the digital course “How to Build a Personal Brand” with Ryan Serhant, a well-known real estate broker and TV personality. The course included four hours of video, and a 73-page workbook to help entrepreneurs strategically build their brand. Hallmark client work includes crisis communications for Seiko, which was targeted by animal rights activists who accused the company of being “shark killers” by sponsoring the US’s sport fishing tournament. Agean continues to work with Seiko on its 2022 watch launches and the development of a new brand purpose program.
— Diana Marszalek
London’s Milk & Honey PR expanded to the US in May 2021, opening an office in New York City, part of the rapidly growing agency’s expansion that included opening a Sydney office in 2019. Under the watch of CEO Paul Cohen, Milk & Honey North America is already thriving as a people-first, outcome-focused and purpose driven agency that attracts finance, tech and healthcare clients, many early stage and fast growing — like the agency itself.
Milk & Honey North America is based in New York.
Milk & Honey didn’t launch its North American operation until May 2021, yet already has a client list worthy of firms whose doors have been open longer. After signing its first retainer client in June of last year, the agency added clients including Aegis Ventures, BrainCheck, Boston Technology Research, Domestika, LeapFrog Investments and Macro Intelligence Partners. The office went from zero to $450,000 in client billing by the end of the year. Its initial one person team — CEO Paul Cohen, a 17-year Ketchum veteran — grew to a team of four full-timers and five part-timers with more to come.
Though new to North America, Milk & Honey’s culture and ethos is developing in the same vein as that of the firm’s London office, which is among the factors driving the B-Corp firm’s rapid growth since opening in 2017. Agency ethos includes putting its people first; prizing passion and creativity; celebrating clients; and giving people time to think. Milk & Honey’s goal is building an agency that is “completely representative of all sections of society” — and expects clients and suppliers to show the same level of commitment. Over the past year, Milk & Honey has reached out to schools, universities and communities to further its goal of connecting with 250 diverse PR candidates by 2025.
Milk & Honey’s notable work of 2021 includes its work with BrainCheck, a healthtech startup that detects and manages cognitive impairment. Milk & Honey’s positioned BrainCheck as transforming the future of cognitive care; landing the company coverage in the likes of TechCrunch, Business Insider and the Wall Street Journal. The start up’s CEO appeared on Cheddar TV’s “Shakers” segment. When Aegis Ventures announced a partnership with New York’s Northwell Health to drive better healthcare, Milk & Honey secured more than 20 media hits and multiple interviews across business and healthcare media, including an exclusive feature in The Wall Street Journal.
— Diana Marszalek
Victoria Kennedy launched Victorious PR in 2020 with nothing in the bank — but an eye on becoming the world’s premiere PR agency for entrepreneurs. Her earliest days in pursuit of that goal have been fruitful, having finished 2021 with 70 clients, a 20+-person staff and registering income in the low seven figures.
Victorious PR is based in Las Vegas.
Victorious PR’s strength has grown right off the bat. After launching with, literally, nothing in 2020, the firm closed out that year having earned $400,000 in fee income and a staff of four. Fast forward to the end of 2021, and the firm is looking at an entirely different picture. Victorious’ revenue grew to $2.3 million last year and built a 23-person team to provide client service. Among the entrepreneurs in real estate, cryptocurrency, and healthcare that have hired Victorious for its expertise in telling their story are Dan Henry, Jared Curry, Krista Mashore, Galen M. Hair, Titan Network and Shopanova. Victorious was named the best PR company in Las Vegas from Expertise.com, top PR firm agency in Nevada by Clutch Reviews, and top PR company by Mirror Review.
Victorious built its internal culture on these pillars: being honest and truthful, even when it is uncomfortable; doing everything with laser-like precision and accuracy; owning decisions and being accountable rather than blame others; and supporting and uplifting each other. All of which points to Victorious supporting team members having hard conversations, keeping an open dialogue about good and bad and having a positive attitude. Victorious is a female owned company with female leaders, and intentionally hires people with diverse backgrounds to bring a range of perspectives to client works. In addition to the US, team members come from Canada, Mexico, and various countries in Europe and Asia.
Victorious’ work with clients is geared at building “true industry leaders with impactful stories that greatly influence society by leading with integrity.” That includes working with clients in developing, sharpening, communicating, and, ultimately, controlling their narrative. In 2021, Victorious partnered with Jared Curry, a 19-year-old CEO of a seven-figure business, on engaging and inspiring other young people as a means of building his personal brand as well as his business, Scope Marketing. Positioning Curry as an ecommerce and marketing expert resulted in 20 publications including Medium, Youth Journal and Blavity writing about him. He became a regular podcast guest as well.
— Diana Marszalek
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