Global PR | New York v London: Where is the Public Relations and Communications Capital of the World?


Those of you who have been following the recent developments at Curzon PR, will be aware that we recently extended our practice into the United States, with the launch of a second office of our agency in New York. In our last blog post, we looked at which of these two great cities lead the pack as the world’s premier media hub and this time, we will be exploring the public relations credentials of the two cities.

New York

One aspect that sets New York ahead of the pack is its status as the historical home of the public relations industry. While opinion is split between historians as to whether Edward Bernays or Ivy Lee should be attributed as the founder of public relations as a profession, one thing that is not up for debate was the role that New York City played in the infancy of the profession, with Bernays setting up an office as a ‘Public Relations Counseler’ in the city in 1919 and Lee establishing a New York-based public relations firm with George F. Parker in 1905.
As the public relations industry developed and grew to become recognised as a legitimate profession, New York continues to be at the forefront of the industry. In 1947 the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) was founded in New York as the industry’s first trade association and its head office is still located in the Big Apple today.
In the 21st Century, New York is home to some of the leading names in public relations, such as Edelman, Ketchum, Olgivy PR and Cohn and Wolfe. However, not all of the USA’s leading PR and communications firms have their headquarters in the Big Apple, with notable names such as McKinney and Associates, the DCI Group and many other politically focused agencies based in Washington D.C. and FleishmanHillard being located in St Louis, Missouri.


While London may not be able to lay claim to being the birthplace of modern PR in the same way as New York it does have its own history in the art of public influence. As far back as the 1600s the opposing factions in the English Civil War disseminated pamphlets at an extremely large scale for the time period, and in 1787 the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade was established in London aimed to educate the public about the abuses of the slave trade, something that has been seen by several historians as a precursor to the modern public relations campaigns of today.
As the profession of public relations developed, London seemed to lag slightly behind it sister city from across the pond as much of the first public relations agencies were established in New York and the British trade association, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), was established in London in 1948, a year after the American counterpart was founded in New York.
However, London is not without its fair share of global behemoths in the public relations industry, however, with several globally prominent firms such as Brunswick, Grayling, Freud and Portland Communications all headquartered in London. Additionally, unlike in the States where politically focused communications firms are drawn towards D.C. due to its status as the nation’s capital, London’s status as both the political and commercial centre of the UK makes it an ideal location for consumer, political and financial PR firms alike.
Overall, it is clear that both London and New York are two of the most important metropolises in the global public relations industry. With Curzon PR now having offices in both these cities, we are in a position to strengthen our global outlook and offer our clients a unique international outlook to our strategic communications campaigns.