4 questions for August Public Relations founder Steven Goldberg

The corporate specialist agency veteran on large firms vs. small and the biggest challenge of establishing a firm.

Tell us a bit about your agency, which you opened in mid-October.
We’re starting with eight people, individuals with specialized talent, in New York and Los Angeles, and a number of clients.

Some of our core areas are crisis management, reputation management, litigation and investigations, financial restructurings, Chapter 11 cases, blockchain and digital assets, fintech, healthcare, discrimination, bias and diversity. 

We’ll look to differentiate our firm with our expertise, with the senior people having industry-leading experience. For example, thinking about litigation and crises, we have three former practicing attorneys. I’m a former bankruptcy lawyer and have done a lot of white collar and regulatory matters.

Your firm launched the same day that Finsbury Glover Hering announced its merger with Sard Verbinnen. Six of your team members are Sard alumni, five of them including you, came directly from Sard. Why did you make this decision?
I worked at Finsbury for seven years and spent eight years at Sard Verbinnen. They are both great firms. I have nothing but respect for them and think they’re going to do terrific things together. The timing is very much coincidental. In today’s polarized environment, there’s more need for strategic communications counsel and more opportunities for firms of any size. I started our firm focusing on practice areas where we all have collective expertise to build a strategic communications consultancy.

They’ve noted client demand for a large, seamless interconnected practice. What are advantages of being a smaller shop?
There are benefits to being a large comprehensive global firm and to having a smaller, more entrepreneurial-like firm that can select the practice areas to focus on. There's been a lot of change in our industry with private equity ownership and consolidations. 

Almost every single client will get all of the senior people working on their matters at our firm. We can be a little bit more creative in how we structure engagements. We have greater flexibility with billing that can fit client needs and situations.  

We're not going to run into potential conflicts. There are going to be times when maybe it doesn't make sense for some of the bigger firms to take on a smaller engagement because they have to bill in a certain way or there's a conflict issue. So there’s opportunity for us in those situations.

What will be your biggest challenge?
It will be establishing our brand. Everyone who knows us individually knows us from previous firms. It will be getting people familiar with August as a firm that delivers the same high quality, diligent, thoughtful work as we all did as individuals in previous places.

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