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 2023.

Richard Edelman’s firm was named by a clear majority of the Influence 100 – our annual listing of the world's most powerful brand and corporate communicators – its reputation apparently undented by continuing controversy over its work for oil companies and Saudi Arabia.

Coming in second place, as last year, was strategic comms powerhouse Brunswick, which regularly shows up in the top five mentions. The only other agencies to get multiple mentions were Italy’s MY PR, Weber Shandwick and Freuds.

When we asked our influencers to name the companies they think have best managed their brand communications and corporate reputation over the past year, there was no stand-out winner here, unlike previous years: there were an equal number of multiple mentions for Microsoft (which last year was far ahead of any other brand), Disney, Apple, Nvidia, Lego and Tata Group.

Twitter, hitherto a regular on the best brand communications list, not only had no nominations, but switched to the other side: unsurprisingly, given the tumultuous change in ownership to Elon Musk, it was in joint first place on the list of the companies who our Influence 100 think have managed their reputations least effectively over the past year.

In joint first place with Twitter was brewer Anheuser-Busch, after its handling of the Bud Light trans influencer controversy, and in third place was cryptocurrency exchange FTX, which collapsed swiftly last November.

Out of the Influence 100’s list of nominees for best communicator among world leaders this year, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenkskyy again came out head and shoulders above anyone else, having consolidated his status as a hero in leadership and communications terms as Russia’s invasion stretched into a second year.

Despite announcing in January that she was stepping down, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern again received multiple nominations for second place – the same as last year, after three years running in the top spot. The only other leader who received multiple mentions was Indian prime minister Narendra Modi.

On the list of the worst communicators among the world’s leaders, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin was in undisputed first place, far ahead of other nominees. In joint second place were former UK prime minister Boris Johnson and Elon Musk, the only business leader on the list.

This tranche of research also reveals some valuable insights into what the Influence 100 think are the biggest challenges for the future of PR agencies, with many frank responses focused on AI and other advances in technology, creativity, talent, diversity, proving return on investment, and agility.

The Influence 100 report, including all 100 profiles, Q&As and research insights, can be found here. Still to come: future challenges for the CMO and CCO role and their views on diversity and inclusion; the Rising Stars and Crossover Stars of 2023; and the earned media campaigns admired by this year’s cohort.