La capsula Informativa: Cheers to 60 Years! How We Got Here & Where We’re Headed

January 9, 2024, marks 60 years in business for Franco. Our team has been excitedly preparing for this milestone, and we are so happy it’s finally here!

If you know me, you know I love an opportunity to reflect and find learnings from all the triumphs and messy moments. I hope you’ll stick with me as I share a little Franco history because we wouldn’t be where we are today without some pivotal moments from the past six decades.

Since our founding in 1964, Franco has evolved – along with the city we love (Detroit!) and the industry itself – to become the longest-standing PR agency in Michigan. We’re rooted in PR, making us excellent at the people-powered, relationship and instinct elements of our work. Relationships and people have been embedded in our culture since day one thanks to our founder, Tony Franco.

Tony started his career as an advertising executive but saw a void in the market and believed that companies needed PR to complement their advertising programs. PR was still very new in the 1960s, and Tony was considered a pioneer in the industry when he founded Anthony M. Franco, Inc. in 1964.

Tony’s vision led to very rewarding and successful opportunities for Franco – including longtime engagements with Stroh’s beer and Domino’s, launching the first Starbucks in Michigan, rebranding the North American International Auto Show, putting Detroit-Style Pizza on the map through building the Buddy’s Pizza brand and organizing the pitch that led to Detroit hosting Super Bowl XL…just to name a few. (You can find more milestones on our History page.)

A major milestone in Franco’s history occurred in 1985 when Dan Ponder joined Franco as CFO. Dan led a management buyout of the company in 1993 and changed the name to Franco Public Relations Group – emphasizing a team approach.

The company experienced many highs (I started in 2007 😉) and weathered many challenges (like the automaker bankruptcies) over the next two decades, leading up to a rebrand in 2016 when we tweaked our name to Franco.

Changes in the industry led us to combine PR, marketing, social media, digital, creative services and analytics to deliver more integrated communications programs. The rebrand reflected that transformation.

Today, Franco is an integrated communications agency that builds strategic programs for clients in a variety of industries with a local, national and global reach. Franco serves organizations in the healthcare, consumer, nonprofit, professional services, education, automotive/mobility and technology industries.

The most significant milestone in my 17 years at Franco came six years ago when we extracted and redefined our core values. This process was so personal for me and very inclusive of the whole Franco team. My proudest moments are when I see and feel our team living our values authentically, especially when that leads to growth and success for our people and clients.

Another major milestone for Franco is when we became a women-led organization. President & COO Tina Sullivan, Senior VP Nikki Little and I together form Franco’s executive leadership group. I am beyond grateful to be the agency’s first female CEO in its 60-year history, and I’ve served in that role since taking the proverbial torch from Dan Ponder in early 2021.

That’s a lot of history! We also created this short video that reflects on the past 60 years and what makes us who we are today:

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