Launched two years ago as a second brand within the Edelman empire, there were obvious concerns that PR 21 would be nothing more than Edelman Lite, a boutique agency created to address client conflicts. But it hasn’t taken long for PR 21 to create its own, distinct identity, to build impressive credentials in the healthcare and technology sectors, and to demonstrate the ability to grow. The firm is distinguished by its ability to combine an entrepreneurial culture—fast-paced and responsive—with a wealth of big agency experience (most of its top people came out of Edelman) and international reach through its own branded offices and Edelman’s formidable global network.
While the departure of founding CEO Will Sullivan was obviously a disappointment, it provided an opportunity to bring Gus Weill back into the Edelman fold. Having spent that past four years as a leader in Burson-Marsteller’s public affairs practice, Weill brings a more corporate focus to an firm that has already established its credentials in the branding arena, and joins a senior team that includes technology practice leaders Paul Battaglia and Renee Edelman and consumer maven Bridget Brennan. That team was supplemented in 2000 with the addition of Beverley Kaye as head of the new London office, created when Edelman acquired three offices previously operated by Rowland Worldwide.
That acquisition helped fuel 90 percent growth in 2000, and PR 21 now has revenues of more than $10 million and a staff of more than 100. The firm has added technology clients including SignalSoft and Sprint PCS, as well as a handful of e-business companies such as Ciber Consulting, Inflow, Deloitte Consulting, and Katalyst, and broader branding assignments from Johnson & Johnson, Jose Cuervo Tequila, and Whirlpool. It also added a competitive intelligence service, and forged an alliance with Miami’s Grupo Uno to serve the Latin American market.