SHIFT Communications Acquisition by NATIONAL Public Relations

NEW YORK, NY, MAY 6, 2016 – Gould+Partners is pleased to announce that it represented SHIFT Communications in the transaction between NATIONAL Public Relations and SHIFT Communications, an integrated communications firm with offices in Boston, New York City, Austin and San Francisco.

NATIONAL’s acquisition of SHIFT, which was officially announced Wednesday, brings together Canada’s top public relations firm and what’s considered one of the most innovative PR agencies in the U.S.

Front row from left, from SHIFT Communications: Amy Lyons, Managing Partner; Todd Defren, Founding Partner; Jim Joyal, Partner; Paula Finestone, Executive Vice-President, Operations. Second row from left, from NATIONAL Public Relaions: Valerie Beauregard, Executive Vice-President; Jean-Pierre Vasseur, President and CEO; Royal Poulin, Executive Vice-President and CFO.

In the last 40 years, NATIONAL has grown from a two-person Montreal shop to a 550-employee, 17-office enterprise across North America and Europe, according to Andrew Molson, chairman of NATIONAL Public Relations.

SHIFT Communications, which was launched in 2003 by principals Todd Defren and Jim Joyal, now has around $20 million in annual billings and a diverse roster of clients including McDonald’s, Orchard Supply Hardware and Whole Foods Market.

“The acquisition of SHIFT was an important milestone for our firm. Having Rick Gould bridge the gap between both parties during the negotiation was crucial for the success of the transaction,” said Royal Poulin, Executive Vice-President and CFO of NATIONAL Public Relations. “As an advisor to the seller he understood the importance of finding solutions that would not jeopardize the deal, that would provide value to his client and that would maintain harmonious relationship between all parties post-closing.”

Defren added: “Rick Gould’s industry benchmarking research provided seminal guidance during SHIFT’s business evolution, so it was natural that I would turn to him for guidance and support during this critical period. When it comes to PR industry M&A issues, there is no one I trust more.”

The SHIFT acquisition is expected to be a springboard for NATIONAL to make additional PR transactions throughout the States. “I believed that SHIFT would be the perfect firm to anchor NATIONAL’s U.S. presence,” Gould said. “I fully endorsed the match in value and leadership and long-term growth objectives.”

SHIFT will retain its name, leadership team, marketplace agenda and geographic footprint following the transaction.

The communications agency has a robust technology practice and seeks to bring “data-driven PR” to life. Last year, for example, SHIFT entered into a strategic agreement with Google to become a Google Analytics™ Certified Partner (GACP). The agency also specializes in B2B technology, consumer lifestyle, consumer tech and health care.

“I have worked with Todd, Jim and the SHIFT team for many years as a consultant and always respected their drive and ongoing thought leadership,” Gould said, adding that he worked closely with NATIONAL’s Chairman, President and CEO on a consulting project several years ago where he was able to familiarize himself with NATIONAL’s corporate culture and the PR marketplace in Canada.

Gould also has worked with NATIONAL’s leadership in Montreal and Toronto through his connection with the Canadian Council of PR Firms and Gould+Partners’ annual benchmarking surveys.

In addition to the SHIFT transaction, Gould+Partners has several other media deals in the pipeline. “Our M&A practice has expanded to working with a wide variety of buyers, both outside of the U.S. and in sectors other than PR,” Gould said  “It is a very exciting time for PR firm M&A.”

About Gould+Partners
Gould+Partners provides M&A consulting services for Public Relations Firms and Digital Media Agencies for increased profitability and is the PR industry source for key profitability benchmarking statistics/insights and successful mergers & acquisitions (M&A) transactions. From our experience gathering and evaluating relevant statistics and insights, we are uniquely qualified to advise and counsel our clients on what is needed to grow and become best in class. Consulting Digital and Public Relations Firms to a new level of success is our specialty and privilege.
Rick Gould
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(office) 212.896.1909
(mobile) 917.783.4500

Matthew Schwartz
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(mobile) 917.535.5091