A little inside baseball

PR shocker: 2 high-profile firms merge to create Houston media juggernaut

2 high-profile firms merge to create Houston media juggernaut

Public Content Gail Rubin Stuart Rosenberg Amy Johnston Mark Sullivan
Public Content managing partners Gail Rubin, Stuart Rosenberg, Amy Johnston, and Mark Sullivan. Courtesy photo

A tectonic shift has occurred in the world of Houston public relations firms, and the tremors are rippling through the media landscape. Studio Communications and On the Mark Communications have merged to form a new company called Public Content

While it may sound like so much media blah-blah-blah, these two firms already represent some of Houston's highest profile restaurants, hotels, events, real estate developers, and more.

The new company's client roster includes hotels like the Four Seasons, the Hotel Alessandra (via the Valencia Group), and the Sonesta; restaurants such as Goode Co concepts Armadillo Palace and Kitchen and Cantina, State of Grace, Eunice, Steak 48, Yauatcha, International Smoke, Le Colonial, and more.

Moving beyond hospitality, they also represent high-end real estate broker Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty; real estate developers Midway, Brookfield Property Partners, Whitestone REIT, Parkway, Howard Hughes Corporation, and the Finger Companies; the Houston Cinema Arts Festival; and the Texas Medical Center.

In other words, major companies pay serious dollars to these firms to shape their public images. Both companies have ties to have every major media outlet in Houston and connections to outlets across the country. Its four managing partners — Gail Rubin, Stuart Rosenberg, Amy Johnston, and Mark Sullivan — bring decades of experience to their respective roles. 

“We’ve invested a combined 26 years building our respective brands, but given how quickly this industry is evolving and realizing the power of synergy, we knew it was time to let go and start anew together,” Rubin says in a statement. “It’s amazing how fast we’ve transitioned from friendly competitors to collaborators through this process, and we’re already a better resource for our clients because of it.”

The merger represents a sort of homecoming for Sullivan, the new company's director of business development. He worked for Studio for four years before leaving in 2008 to form On the Mark. As their combined client roster demonstrates, both firms competed against each other — until now. 

In addition to being adept at the usual sort of press release writing and managing media appearances, the firm offers access to multiple generations of cultural and society influencers. Sullivan and Rosenberg, who will serve as director of client relations, are regulars on the social circuit. Rubin, the new firm's creative director, has extensive connections with publications in New York, stemming from her time there working for both Ralph Lauren and a fashion PR firm.  Johnston, the director of operations, evolved from On the Mark's office manager to a full partner who's tasked with keeping projects on track.

To reach younger audiences, the firm employs people like Duc Hoang (@fooodeelicious), who has almost 40,000 Instagram followers, and is part of a blogger network with others who have similar reach.  

By joining forces, the combined company will be able to expand beyond media relations to add more consulting work, community engagement, marketing, and more. As the firm touts, the company "is built on thoughtful storytelling, curated content creation, and pop up experiences that drive the bottom line."

Public Content's combination of talent and reach should allow it to compete for even higher profile clients. It could emerge as a rival to a firm like Dancie Perugini Ware Public Relations, the top-tier operation that represents The Galleria, H-E-B, and Landry's Inc (among many others). 

As the number of out-of-town restaurants that has failed in Houston suggests, the city can be difficult to navigate for outsiders. As their client roster demonstrates, companies are increasingly turning to firms like Public Content to help them navigate the Bayou City. With their experience and a track record of success, expect Public Content to shape people's perception of new arrivals for years to come.