NEW YORK — Edelman has been narrowly knocked off the top spot as the most admired PR agency among leading in-house communications and brand marketing leaders by Weber Shandwick, according to the Holmes Report’s Influence 100 research for 2019.

Weber Shandwick was the most frequently cited agency when this year’s respondents were asked which firm they most admired, ending Edelman’s six-year run at the top. Other consultancies with repeat mentions included APCO Worldwide.

Asked to identify companies that managed brand communications and corporate reputation most effectively, the list of nominees showed partial continuity from past years, reinforcing the lasting effects of a well-managed reputation. Unilever, Starbucks, Apple, Microsoft and Google were again on the list, with new mentions including McDonald’s, Greggs, Mars, Ferrero, General Motors, Ikea, Patagonia, J&J, Nike, Delta, South West Airlines and LinkedIn.

The nominees for most influential professional again featured business leaders as well as marketing and communications heads, namely Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk (“Not from the fraternity but does this job fabulously”) and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Four of last year’s nominees were also on this year’s list: Unilever's chief marketing and communications officer Keith Weed, former WPP head Sir Martin Sorrell, Edelman CEO Richard Edelman, and P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard.

Other nominees for best in the business were Netflix CMO Kelly Bennett, marketing guru Bonin Bough and Google VP global communications and public affairs Corey DuBrowa.

There were more mentions of women than ever before this year: Disney CCO Zenia Mucha, APCO Worldwide founder and executive chairman Margery Kraus, GE chief marketing officer Linda Boff and Taco Bell global chief brand officer Marisa Thalberg.

Of the long list of nominees for best communicator among world leaders, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern took the top spot. Her powerful response to the Christchurch shootings in March prompted one respondent to name her as “hands down the best communicator on the planet.”

Two other headline-making women – one battling racism, the other the climate emergency – made the best communicator list for the first time: US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the most vocal of the group of four women of color who Donald Trump recently told to “go back” to the countries they came from, and 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, the youngest nominee ever to make the list.

Former British prime minister Theresa May, who spent her final year as leader grappling unsuccessfully with Brexit, was mentioned several times on the best and worst list. And, unsurprisingly, US president Donald Trump again had repeated mentions as both the best and worst communicator, although it was the latter category in which he was overwhelmingly nominated.

Full Influence 100 coverage, including all 100 profiles, Q&As and research insights, can be found here.