Local female-founded full-service communications agency Rachel Kay Public Relations has been acquired by FINN Partners for an undisclosed amount.
RKPR was founded in San Diego in 2007 by CEO Rachel Kay. The public relations agency for emerging and established consumer brands has been headquartered in San Diego with an office in New York.
Kay, now a managing partner in FINN Partners, said the acquisition was not entirely unplanned. For the past two to three years, she said her company had been approached by a few potential buyers.
“When I saw that there was an eager interest, I decided to actively pursue the right opportunity,” she said. “I enlisted a broker who connected me with FINN Partners and the conversations were very positive, and we collectively agreed it was a great fit for what we were both looking for.”
FINN Partners, based in New York City, was founded in 2011 and has grown from about $24 million in fees to more than $170 million in fees over ten years. It has more than 1,300 employees and 33 offices across three continents. It specializes in everything from arts and entertainment to education, financial services and health to technology, sports and social responsibility. It is one of the fastest-growing global, independent agencies.
RKPR is known for its experience driving growth for challenger brands and Fortune 500 companies through integrated public relations, social media and influencer programs. During the past 15 years, founder Kay established RKPR as one of the most respected firms specializing in consumer packaged food, beverage and wellness brands.
RKPR officials say the company will help strengthen FINN’s consumer packaged goods practice and growing West Coast footprint. FINN’s West Coast contingent now includes 165 people with offices now in San Diego as well as Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Wash., San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Kay said while she can’t share any financials around the purchase, “we can tell you that with the addition of RKPR, FINN Partners 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.
Current RKPR clients include leading food and beverage brands, such as: Simple Mills, NotCo, Koe Organic Kombucha, Forager Project, Brazi Bites, Elmhurst 1925, Country Archer Provisions, Bubbies Ice Cream, Catalina Crunch and Tofurky.
Kay said that moving forward her company as a member of FINN’s Global Consumer Practice, will be known as “Rachel Kay Public Relations, a FINN Partners Company.”
Kay started her career at what is now known as Havas Formula post acquisition, which started as a San Diego-based agency.
“That experience was really the catalyst for the trajectory my career took,” she said.
After a short stint heading up corporate communications at a tech start up, she decided to venture out on her own. That tech company, along with a few other connections she made over the years, became her first clients.
“My first employee was Natalie Terashima, who is now our senior partner,” Kay said. “She took a giant leap of faith working out of a bedroom in my house after I convinced her we were going to make magic happen. And we did! I signed the lease on our first office in Solana Beach that same year.”
She said RKPR quickly cultivated a strong niche in the food and beverage space “thanks to a lot of relationships.”
She recalled that her company’s first 10 years “were all grit and hustle; flying all over the country pursuing new clients in person, attending trade shows and marketing the firm; strategies that really worked well for us.”
Kay said the company opened its New York office about eight years ago and has had a bicoastal team serving brands all over the U.S and globally.
She said that FINN Partners didn’t acquire RKPR with the intention of turning its business upside down, and that was a huge attraction for her.
She said FINN leaders told her that they felt that RKPR “could strengthen their already robust consumer practice and intend to simply provide us additional resources to make us stronger and help us drive faster and more aggressive growth.”
Kay said she was looking forward to having the ability to collaborate with FINN’s “incredibly talented team while building our own portfolio of clients” and that she would be able to remain laser focused on her passions: strategy and growth.
“I get to collaborate with senior leaders who have a wealth of experience, making us a stronger team,” she said. “Our clients will also have access to additional service areas and offices around the world. For our team, it means enhanced career opportunities and the possibility of working on different types of clients. “
She said that while FINN Partners is a large agency, it is still independent with “a strong spirit of entrepreneurialism that I gravitated toward.”
CEO: Rachel Kay
HEADQUARTERS: Solana Beach
BUSINESS: Public Relations
NOTABLE: For RKPR client Country Archer Provisions, the firm commissioned a portrait of two TODAY Show hosts made completely out of beef jerky that looked just like them. During the segment, the pair ate the product, showed off the package and reacted to the portrait of themselves displayed on the set.