Is Ruder Finn Scam or Legit PR Company? Honest Review

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  • Post published:January 6, 2024
  • Post category:Reviews

Ruder Finn is one of the world’s largest independent public relations agencies. Founded in 1948, the New York-based firm works with major brands across healthcare, technology, commerce, leadership, and workplace.

With 75+ years in business and blue chip clients like IBM, Ruder Finn seems reputable. But I’ve seen concerning complaints about them online.

So I had to ask…is Ruder Finn legit or a total scam?

In this deep investigative report, I’ll share what I uncovered about Ruder Finn to help you decide. You’ll see: Ruder Finn’s background, leadership, and work, Evidence they are a legitimate PR leader, Troubling scam accusations against the agency, and finally, My verdict: is Ruder Finn legit or a ripoff?

Let’s start with an introduction to Ruder Finn and its services.

An Introduction to Ruder Finn

Ruder Finn was founded in 1948 by David Finn from his Madison Avenue apartment. The agency quickly grew into a PR powerhouse repping major brands.

Today, Ruder Finn operates from New York, San Francisco, DC, and abroad with 500+ employees. They offer PR, marketing, social media, and creative through their core agency and affiliates:

Ruder Finn Companies:

  • Ruder Finn Inc – Flagship PR firm
  • Bloom Communications – Healthcare marketing
  • Comunicad – Hispanic marketing
  • jacobstahl – Publishing & custom content
  • Mantis PR – UK/Europe communications
  • Peppercomm – Integrated marketing
  • RLA Collective – Cultural marketing
  • SPI Group – Digital marketing
  • And more

Ruder Finn is led by CEO Kathy Bloomgarden. She assumed leadership from founder David Finn in 1998 and continues the company’s growth.

Under Bloomgarden, Ruder Finn’s mission shifted to “transformation”. The firm reimagined itself as a change agent for clients grappling with disruption.

Ruder Finn review

What Services Does Ruder Finn Offer?

Ruder Finn covers the full spectrum of strategic communications for clients. Their core services include:

Public Relations

  • Media relations
  • Analyst relations
  • Issues management
  • Reputation management

Creative Services

  • Branding
  • Content creation – blogs, articles, videos, podcasts
  • Website design
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Social Media

  • Strategy development
  • Account management
  • Campaign creation

Technology Enablement

  • Search optimization
  • Audience insight engines
  • Data visualization

The agency clusters expertise into five main sectors:

  1. Healthcare: Connecting patients with innovations in science, medicine, and technology
  2. Technology: Driving growth for tech while managing disruption
  3. Commerce: Building digital-first customer experiences
  4. Leadership: Positioning organizations and executives as forces for positive change
  5. Workplace: Helping companies adapt culture to tap innovation

But more important than any single service, the agency views its purpose as enabling clients’ transformation.

Ruder Finn describes its approach as “campfire sessions” where they collaborate deeply to surface insight, opportunity and define purpose-driven strategies.

They sound great on paper. But should you trust them?

Evidence That Ruder Finn is Legit

Ruder Finn boasts many markers of a reputable PR firm:

1. Established History & Major Clients

With 75 years in business, Ruder Finn has a pedigree exceeded by few agencies. And they continue to land big-name clients like Quest Diagnostics, IBM, and Foot Locker.

Blue chips turn to Ruder Finn for insider expertise navigating disruption. If they had issues, these clients likely wouldn’t stick around.

2. Industry Recognition

Ruder Finn routinely wins awards for breakthrough work including:

  • “PR Agency of the Year” – 2022 Medical Marketing & Media Awards
  • “Best Agency Culture” – Holmes Report 2022
  • “Best Campaign” – SABRE Awards NA 2022

Industry watchers praise Ruder Finn’s innovative programs and culture. The steady stream of awards signals legitimacy.

3. Leadership Reputation

As CEO, Kathy Bloomgarden creates trust through frequent media quotes and conference talks on navigating change.

Bloomgarden also holds key board seats (Arthur W. Page Society, Institute for Public Relations) and chairs the Council of PR Firms.

Her executive profile lends the agency added legitimacy.

4. Financial Track Record

In 2018, Ruder Finn acquired multiple UK agencies and other US firms signaling their financial strength.

While Ruder Finn doesn’t disclose revenue, PRWeek estimates they generate over $100 million annually. Their expansion and client base support solid finances.

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So by reputation, recognition, leadership and finances, Ruder Finn appears quite legitimate…

But if that’s the full story – why have scam complaints popped up against them?

Troubling Accusations of Ruder Finn Being a Scam

While many signs point to Ruder Finn’s legitimacy, some disturbing complaints raised my concern about them potentially being a ripoff or scam:

1. “Consistent Underpayment” of Staff

On review sites like Glassdoor, current and former Ruder Finn employees allege consistent underpayment vs peers at competing agencies.

One reviewer warns potential applicants:

“For any entry-level PR prospect, please know that you will make pennies for the work you do.”

She then shares how as Assistant Account Executive in 2006, she only earned $26,000 salary.

Low pay doesn’t automatically make an employer a scam. But it feeds suspicion when companies don’t value employees’ work.

2. Unexpected Firings & Loss of Personal Work

Another troubling review on Glassdoor alleges the sudden firing of an employee who then permanently lost access to “the documents I wrote”:

“I got laid off from Ruder Finn without warning due to no fault of my own (so I was told)…I wasn’t even allowed to keep the documents I wrote for my portfolio.”

The reviewer had no chance to save or share their hard work.

While firings occur in business, immediately banning access seems unnecessary and fuels mistrust.

3. Aggressive Middle Management & Weak Culture

Alongside the firing and underpayment complaints, reviews point to:

  • Excessive oversight from managers
  • Lack of appreciation and team connection

For example, one midlevel staffer shares:

“Senior staff and leadership can be a little toxic when talking about other team members.”

Reviews allege frequent issues from poor company culture and relationships.

4. High Pressure Workloads & Unclear Expectations

Past employees also regularly cite extreme workloads with 6 or 7 day work weeks.

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Late night and weekend work doesn’t automatically signal danger. Agencies often operate at high speed.

However, when you add reviews like:

“No matter how hard I tried, my best wasn’t good enough.”

It feeds suspicion around leadership, resourcing, and communication.

Do these complaints suggest Ruder Finn is a complete scam? Not necessarily…

But they reveal some scenarios I’d want to better understand before engaging or working with them.

My Verdict: Ruder Finn Has Issues But Isn’t an Outright Scam

So what’s my take – is Ruder Finn legit or a total scam?

I don’t believe Ruder Finn is a blatant scam or ripoff. Their longevity, leadership repute, famous clients and results suggest overall legitimacy.

However, recurring complaints around poor pay, culture, unexpected firings, and intense pressure seem concerning. They hint at potential issues depending on department and management.

For clients seeking PR services, I’d still consider Ruder Finn. But carefully reference check your proposed team and account lead. Ensure you’re comfortable with their expertise, communication style and staff stability.

For prospective employees, approach with eyes open. Talk to staff about pay, culture and workload in your target area before accepting offers.

And for both clients and talent, document all kicking off agreements to protect your work and rights in case of disputes.

By taking reasonable precautions, Ruder Finn still offers opportunities given their influential brand. Just go in aware of the areas that demand extra discernment. Their simmering complaints don’t outright brand them a scam – but do highlight situations to watch for.

Over to you – what do you think? Is Ruder Finn legit or would you avoid them? I welcome your insights below!

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