LONDON — Edelman is still on top as the most admired PR agency among leading in-house communications and brand marketing leaders, according to PRovoke’s Influence 100 research for 2022.

Richard Edelman’s firm was named by a clear majority of influencers, although it remains to be seen whether its reputation among next year’s cohort will be dented by recent controversy over its work for oil companies and Saudi Arabia.

Brunswick was this year the second-most-cited agency, and others with repeated mentions were other strategic and corporate comms heavyweights FGS Global (formed by the merger of Finsbury Glover Hering and Sard Verbinnen) and Teneo, as well as Weber Shandwick, which fell into fifth place this year after being top of the table in 2019 and second for the past two years.

The report also includes much insight from the Influence 100 as to how they think PR agencies need to evolve in the future. 

Asked to name the companies they think have best managed their brand communications and corporate reputation over the past year, one name was head and shoulders above the rest: Microsoft. Joint second place went to Google and Apple, while Pfizer, which was overwhelmingly voted as the leading company in terms of reputation management last year, was again on the list this year but with many fewer nominations: it came in on a par with McDonald’s and Nike (both perennial names on the list) and Salesforce.

We also asked which company has managed its reputation least effectively over the past year and the result was again unequivocal: for the fourth year running around half of those who responded named Meta/Facebook.

Disney, which was nominated for best reputation management last year, was one of the most-named companies in the worst list this year, thanks to the handling of Florida’s ‘don’t say gay’ bill, which also led to the exit of new CCO Geoff Morell this spring just a couple of months after he arrived.

There was a short list of nominees for best communicator among world leaders this year, and, unsurprisingly, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenkskyy came out head and shoulders above everyone else thanks to his leadership and communications around Russian’s invasion.

Zelenkskyy knocked New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern off the top spot after three years running, although she was clearly in second place.

After being in second place on the best communicator list last year, the relief of US president Joe Biden’s contrast to Donald Trump’s communications style clearly lost its novelty quickly: Biden slipped from second place in the best communicator list of world leaders, into the top four voted as worst communicators.

On the list of the worst communicators among the world’s leaders, and with last year’s runaway ‘winner’ Donald Trump out of the picture, UK prime minister Boris Johnson (soon to be replaced) stole the show: no surprise given the continuing revelations around ‘parties’ at No.10 while the rest of the country was in hard lockdown.

The full Influence 100 report, including all 100 profiles, Q&As and research insights can be found here.