Top PR Firms in Chicago – The 2020 List

It may be known as America’s Second City, but PR firms in Chicago are first-rate and handle some of the most familiar brands on the planet. From highly specialized and boutique firms to large agencies ready to deploy an army to promote your message, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to Chicago-based public relations companies.

PR agencies the world over trade in the currency of connections and exposure to draw attention to your brand or message. The best agencies have the resources to get conversations started about you in the biggest mediums and most-visited channels, resulting in instant attention and interest. Their ability to deliver results is not in question but finding a good fit takes some work. 

It also takes money, sometimes quite a bit more than you might be prepared to pay. That’s why it’s important to consider if working with an agency is really what you need. Going this route is not the only option and tools like Prowly can do a lot of the same things that agencies do without the huge price tag. 

Prowly allows PR pros to find media contacts, create campaigns and use analytical insights to optimize results in the quest for press coverage. It even offers the ability to set up branded online newsrooms and share instant access to your press materials with journalists with a single click. You can try it for free and see for yourself just how easy it is to create, send and track professional-grade PR campaigns. 

Still, if your budget and needs justify it, Chicago is a great place to start your search for a top public relations agency and these are the first places to visit. 

Top PR Firms in Chicago

Sherman

Sherman Communications & Marketing is nearing the end of their second decade of serving clients in Chicago and all over the Midwest. They are a well-established PR firm offering comprehensive, full-service support for new launches, rebrandings and product awareness campaigns. 

In addition to the expected expertise in sectors like retail, technology and financial services, Sherman stands out from the crowd with experience in other fields. If you’re looking for PR support for a nonprofit, an educational institution, or green energy firm, Sherman has a surprising degree of knowledge and experience waiting to be deployed on your behalf. 

An impressive list of client testimonials from across a number of industries shows both the breadth of Sherman’s experience and the close and satisfying relationships they build with clients. 

Interdependence PR

Go to the intersection of creative storytelling and analytic strategies and you’ll find Interdependence PR. 

Interdependence has a proven track record of consistently getting client news and announcements into major media platforms. Their strategy of aiming for the top of the media pyramid accelerates the process of achieving the exposure that clients want. The PR pros at Interdependence focus on weaving client stories into contemporary news and topics, making it easier to pitch to journalists and providing multiple angles for different media to be interested in. 

Interdependence also puts tech-driven insights front and center when it comes to meeting client needs. 

At the core of their strategy is a proprietary tool for tailoring media strategies, called Interviewed. The software monitors breaking and trending topics, looking for possible connections with client messaging that Interdependence wants to promote. It identifies media contacts that haven’t yet written about a given topic and packages the relevant details for them in a way that makes it easier to get interested in the story, making pitching more efficient and more effective. 

Caruso PR

It’s a mistake to think that bigger is always better, and that’s equally true in the world of PR firms. Sure, a larger staff will be able to carry out more duties at once, but smaller agencies typically make up for this disadvantage with more personalized service. That’s certainly the case with Caruso, a Chicago-based boutique PR firm that still manages to deliver quality support across an impressive range of services. 

Caruso’s personalized approach includes branching out to related forms of support that more standard agency relationships might overlook. Their goal is to enhance standard media relations with the extras that can make a difference in a crowded marketplace. These include spokesperson training and marketing services for highly specialized fields like legal agencies.  

Caruso’s local connections have served them well in creating a comprehensive network of contacts with a distinct Chicago flavor, partners that may fly under the radar of larger, more corporate agencies. If you have a Chicago-centric message to deliver, Caruso has unparalleled local knowledge that can help to bring all the best voices, platforms and channels on board. 

3Points

If you’re coming from any aspect of the tech industry, especially in the world of finance, then 3Points should be at the top of your list of PR firms in Chicago. Since 2010, their focus on fintech means they can craft much more effective campaigns that fit well with the needs and expectations of relevant media. 

A typical partnership with 3Points starts with a detailed data analysis to identify the most compelling narratives for the current media environment. This audit informs the construction of tailored pitches aimed at contacts most likely to be interested. After the campaign is launched, 3Points uses advanced analytics to identify the highest-performing channels and measure the impact your message has made. 

Experience working with many of the highest-profile players on the Chicago Stock Exchange has helped 3Points build an insider’s knowledge of the local fintech landscape and the media players attached to it. Brokers, traders, software providers and others in the heart of the business are both clients and contacts that 3Points can turn to when navigating the best path forward for your messaging. If you need to raise your profile among those who deal with the Midwest’s financial markets, 3points is your first point of contact. 

3rd Coast PR

Yes, we have two “3” entries on our list and this time the specialization switches to product launches. In particular, 3rd Coast has developed a reputation as the best consumer goods launch experts of all the public relations agencies in Chicago. A long list of brands from the food & beverage, household goods and baby & kids products industries can confirm that 3rd Coast PR delivers on their promise of unique and effective brand campaigns. 

Among other things, 3rd Coast is known for its proven success in attaching research and documentation to products with a health, safety or nutritional aspect. Supplementing brand messaging with credible studies and professional verification is a hallmark of 3rd Coast’s work and helps to make their pitches more attractive. Also, journalists’ jobs become easier, their audiences get a better brand impression through authoritative support and 3rd Coast’s clients get a better shot at media coverage—a triple win! 

In addition to conventional services like brand messaging and facilitating media coverage, 3rd Coast offers somewhat unconventional support in the form of on-site event management and trade show support. These are both unique ‘extras’ that help to distinguish them from other PR companies in Chicago and complete their client offer with the kind of comprehensive, end-to-end service that product launches need. When you want guidance at every customer and media touchpoint in the launch process, make 3rd Coast PR your first stop. 

Bear Icebox Communications

Yes, we thought about including Bear Icebox based on their name alone but that wouldn’t do justice to an agency that is making waves for lots other (and better) reasons. 

To start with, all the senior partners come from an extremely useful and relevant background for PR work—journalism. They know first-hand what gets interest in newsrooms, how a message should be packaged and how to nurture relationships with journalists for maximum mutual benefit. Right from start, clients at Bear Icebox benefit from a genuine understanding of the underlying process behind effective PR. 

Bear Icebox also features two areas of core competence and expertise that make them unique among PR firms in Chicago. The first is facilitating U.S. launches for existing products from other parts of the world, Europe in particular. Bear Icebox constructs paths forward for brand awareness and navigating a new media and consumer landscape for products already established elsewhere. 

Their other focus is on franchise-based operations and their successful growth. Bear Icebox understands the unique business model behind the sale of franchise units and the need to communicate effectively with potential franchise owners, their customers and the local media where they might begin operations. The key, according to Bear Icebox, is recognizing the role of small entrepreneurs within the expansion of larger corporate interests and communicating through a multi-faceted approach involving organic and paid search, social media, content marketing and media relations. 

Bettie Bomb

Ok, one more unforgettable name for our list. Bettie Bomb is a boutique agency founded in 2005 with an extremely impressive list of Chicago-based clients who have benefitted from their creative touch and sharp strategic thinking. 

Unlike many other PR agencies in Chicago, Bettie Bomb puts a strong emphasis on the design talent they bring to the table. In fact, their branding & design services share equal billing with their PR & marketing capabilities. 

Branding & design services put an accent on the visual elements that form your brand identity. Bettie Bomb offers a full range of specialists who can help in the creation of these elements, from concept to execution. This includes photography, graphic design, website design, and other components of a complete brand inventory. Their help in producing a polished, professional image adds another dimension to the value Bettie Bomb brings. 

Of course, you’ll also find expert support in the fields of contact with influencers, content creation, direct mail campaigns, SEO support, and more. 

Cascade Communications

Looking through a list of the top PR agencies in Chicago, a handful really stand out because of their emphasis on one particular strength in the way they deliver value to clients. First among them is Cascade Communications, where storytelling is at the center of their entire PR philosophy. 

Storytelling is an often overlooked aspect of PR activities and requires a creative approach, being more art than science. True expertise in this field is rare but when done properly it can turbocharge any PR campaign. 

Cascade prides itself on being able to construct just the right image, event, message, or slogan to help a brand break through the noise and get attention. They believe that focusing on creating a compelling story is the best way—the only way—to really connect with your audience. Winning recognition as one of the best PR firms in Chicago for 2020 by Expertise confirms Cascade’s rising status in the Windy City’s PR landscape. 

Cascade’s track record includes prominent coverage in the biggest local, regional, and national media platforms and their offer includes everything from content creation and promotional materials design to website audits and optimization of social media activities. 

Summary

We hope you’ve enjoyed this trip around the shores of Lake Michigan and visits to some of Chicago’s top PR firms. The names on this list are more than enough to get any conversation about potential help in this field started. 

Bear in mind that not every business is ready for an agency or needs to spend the cash to hire one. Tools like Prowly put a range of powerful capabilities in your hands, from creating your own press releases to building a targeting audience and tracking the results of your campaigns. It’s easy to set up a free trial account and discover just how much you can do on your own!

Cover photo by Pedro Lastra on Unsplash