It has now been a decade since RF|Binder was spun out of Ruder Finn, and in that time it has reinvented itself more than once, emerging as one of the leading generalist firms in the New York market, with expertise in three key sectors—food and beverage (about a third of the business); financial and professional services; and health and wellness—and broad capabilities including brand marketing, traditional and digital media relations, event management, corporate responsibility, crisis and issues management, public affairs, all financial communications, with design and research and measurement capabilities thrown in for good measure. The unifying factor is the agency’s “Ideas Matter” philosophy and a belief that “ideas, finely articulated and forcefully expressed, change the world,” which helps the firm develop distinctive thought leadership platforms for its clients.
The past 12 months saw not a change but an evolution of the firm’s thinking around this issue, in response to changes in the communications landscape brought about by the growing importance of social media, which has transformed the way companies and their products and service relate to the outside world. “The spotlight is brighter, the consequences greater,” says the firm, creating new challenges and new opportunities. As a result, the market is crying out for a new kind of public relations firm, one that can deliver strategic counsel and a focus on business results, with senior partners delivering broad industry and subject matter expertise.
RF|Binder believes it has built just such a team, with chief executive Amy Binder surrounded by a leadership team that includes vice chairman Joe Fisher; chief performance officer Frank Walton, former head of research and forecasts at Ruder Finn; chief marketing officer George Drucker, who has led consumer campaigns in senior positions at Edelman and Burson-Marsteller; executive managing directors Robert Ferris (an IR expert), Nancy Moss (who leads the firm’s Boston office) and Atalanta Rafferty; chief media strategist Janine Savarese and chief digital officer Nada Arnot.
Last year saw a return to steady growth after a brief dip in 2009, and RF|Binder ended the year with fees of around $12.3 million, up about 6 percent. Its client roster includes major brands including Bank of America, Bosch, Fiserv, Citi, Dunkin’ Donuts, Johnson & Johnson, New York University’s Stern School of Business, CVS, Arkins, Areva, Staples, Hershey’s, Cargill, Lilly, Ameriprise and NASDAQ.
RF|Binder followed up its seven Gold and Silver SABRE nominations in 2010—more than any other midsize firm—with another impressive haul in 2011. Highlights included the firm’s “Hurt Coutoure” campaign for J&J’s Band Aid brand; promoting Malaysian cuisine for the Malaysia Trade Commission; community outreach for Bank of America; thought leadership around financial reform for the Stern school; and a wide range of corporate and marketing initiatives for Dunkin’ Donuts.
The firm handles international assignments through a strategic partnership with a long-established firm in Buenos Aires, RFB|Lynch Partners; works with the Media-Consulta Network of agencies in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and Russia; and can draw on the global offices of parent company Ruder Finn Group in Western Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.