Rachel Kay
Rachel Kay

Public relations agency owner Rachel Kay, who founded Solana Beach-based RKPR in 2007, had been considering selling her business for the past couple of years.

“Any small business owner knows that the larger you grow the more administrative hurdles you tend to face and that’s really prohibitive to growth,” Kay told Times of San Diego. “We’ve had a number of inquiries from potential buyers for two years, but didn’t actively market the firm until about a year ago.”

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Recently, Kay agreed to sell to Finn Partners, a global independent marketing and communications firm based in New York City. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

RKRP, with a second office in New York City, will now be called Rachel Kay Public Relations, a Finn Partners company. No layoffs or changes to RKPR’s leadership were announced. Kay will join Finn as managing partner and become part of the agency’s Global Consumer Practice leadership team.

RKPR’s 19 employees will join Finn’s West Coast operations, now with an expanded staff of 165, said Kay. Finn’s West Coast footprint includes offices in Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County and now San Diego.

Other Finn offices are in Atlanta, Bangalore, Beijing, Boston, Chicago, Delhi, Denver, Detroit, Dublin, Fort Lauderdale, Frankfurt, Guam, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Jerusalem, Kuala Lumpur, London, Manila, Mumbai, Munich, Nashville, Paris, Shanghai, Singapore and Washington D.C. Overall, Finn has more than 1,300 employees in 33 offices worldwide.

“I had a fantastic 15-year journey building this business,” said Kay, “but when I started to envision the future, I knew that the additional resources we could tap into by joining a large agency, for our clients and for our staff, would help to ignite a more rapid growth. A larger agency like Finn Partners offers a lot of benefits that are attractive to potential clients and to staff, which was exciting to me.”

RKPR, considered a boutique agency, specializes in strategic, integrated communications for food and beverage brands.

Current RKPR clients include Simple Mills, NotCo, Koe Organic Kombucha, Forager Project, Brazi Bites, Elmhurst 1925, Country Archer Provisions, Bubbies Ice Cream, Catalina Crunch and Tofurky.

Finn’s food and beverage clients include Bolthouse Farms, Filippo Berio, Jack Daniel’s, USA Pears, Northwest Cherries, Berry Bros. & Rudd and The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Finn Partners has grown from about $24 million in annual fees to nearly $170 million in fees over the past 10 years, a statement said. According to PR Week’s Agency Business Report 2022, Finn Partners posted 49 percent growth last year to $162.2 million, expanding at roughly the same rate in the U.S. to $135.7 million.

Finn’s growth has been due to acquisition, according to PR Week, an industry trade publication. Earlier this year, Finn acquired brand strategy and creative firm AHA. In 2021, Finn went on a buying spree, snapping up Irish integrated firm 360, boutique travel and hospitality agency Hawkins International PR, Hawaii-based Anthology Marketing Group, U.K.-based InHealth Communications, tech-focused Barokas Communications, global health-sector opinion and news platform Medika.Life and technology communication firm Agency Ten22.

“When I was introduced to Finn Partners, it felt like a match made in heaven and checked-off all the boxes, including industry prestige, an alignment in both values and work product and great chemistry,” said Kay.

“I was eager to eliminate some of the back-office headaches associated with running a business. But, this next chapter was more fueled by my passion and desire to focus on doing incredible work with more smart people in a larger way. If I hadn’t found the right partner, I wouldn’t have moved forward.

“Honestly, when I met the Finn Partners team, I knew I wasn’t going to find a better fit, so the timing made sense to move forward. You really need to use gut instinct when you make this type of decision. My gut said this is the right time with the right group.”

Rick Gould of Gould + Partners, a New York-based business management consultant, represented RKPR and helped facilitate the transaction. “(Rick) knew Peter Finn well and made the introduction, said Kay. “It took Rick only a couple of months. Our business was very attractive because of our client roster and profitability.”

“RKPR is one of the most respected firms specializing in consumer packaged food, beverage, and wellness brands,” said Peter Finn, founding managing partner and CEO, Finn Partners. “Building on the momentum of our rapidly growing Global Consumer Practice, the firm adds deep packaged food and beverage expertise spanning established leaders to disruptive food and beverage innovators. With the addition of RKPR, our Global Consumer Practice will have annual fees of almost $25 million, adding it to the ranks of the largest Finn Partners practices along with health, tech and travel.”

“We’re excited to welcome RKPR as the newest member of our Global Consumer Practice,” said Kyle Farnham, Finn Global Consumer Practice lead and managing partner. “Our work with food and beverage brands is a core area of strength, and the addition of RKPR will enable us to considerably expand our portfolio in this space. Their reputation, expertise and deep understanding on modern food and beverage trends will play a key role in the next wave of our growth.” 

“Building a business means leaving your comfort zone daily and accelerating when you approach a speed bump,” said Kay. “When I ventured out on my own, I had no idea where the road would take me, and this went far beyond my expectations.”

Alternative Strategies Adds, Promotes Staff

Alternative Strategies, a San Diego marketing agency specializes in the restaurant and hospitality industries, has announced Jennifer Ianni has been hired as a media relations manager and Sydney Costales has been promoted from media relations coordinator to a media relations manager.

Ianni, a native San Diegan who grew up in Vista, was previously with Pacific Magazine as an associate editor and managing editor. Her career experience also includes working as a social media manager for Aesthetic Brand Marketing, publications coordinator for General Atomics and six years with the North County Times newspaper.

Costales joined Alternative Strategies a year ago. She has experience working at PR agencies in New York City. She graduated with honors and a bachelor’s degree in communications and marketing from Fordham University in New York.

Alternative Strategies was founded by William Lopez in July 2000, who today serves as CEO.

AmTrav Names Tim Hines as Chief Marketing Officer

San Diego-based AmTrav, offering a one-stop platform for travel, has named Tim Hines as chief marketing officer.

The company said Hines will focus on building a marketing engine to support growth efforts for AmTrav, a platform used by more than 1,000 businesses to book trips, find savings, set travel policies, manage payments and expenses and keep their travelers safe.

Hines is the author of “The Marketing Starter: How an Entrepreneurial Spirit Will Make You a More Savvy Marketer,” a 168-page book published in March of this year. He also is the podcast host of “The Marketing Starter.”

His career experience also includes co-founding Curb Ninja, a mobile app that helped urban motobikers find and share reliable parking spots in San Francisco.

Gov. Newsom Touts Abortion Access in Billboard Ad Campaign

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s gubernatorial reelection campaign is spending money on 18 billboards in seven other states to advertise access to abortion services in the Golden State.

The states include South Dakota, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas, where there are significant limits or bans on abortions. California is one of the nation’s least-restrictive states when it comes to abortion.

The advertising messages vary. In Texas, the billboard shows a woman with her hands chained behind her back with the headline “Texas doesn’t own your body. You do.”

Another headline states “Need an abortion? California is ready to help,” followed by a website address, abortion.ca.gov.

According to news reports, the billboards cost roughly $100,000, which is a fraction of Newsom’s California reelection war chest of more than $24 million.

Most elected officials in the targeted states did not comment for news stories about Newsom’s ad campaign, although South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem tweeted, “Now that you’ve run your billboards in SD, why don’t you get to work cleaning up the human feces on the streets of your cities and turning the lights back on.”

In an interview with The Washington Post, Newsom said, “I’m doing this because I’m privileged to be able to do it. I’m doing it because the people that support my candidacy support this.”

While the billboards include the tagline “Paid for by Newsom for California Governor 2022,” the ad campaign is another signal of Newsom’s possible run for the Democratic Party nomination for President, political pundits are saying. 

Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.