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98Forward announces rebrand, Continuing agency's 24-year Legacy

May 31, 2022

It’s true. The communications agency formerly known as Van Dyke Horn has a new name and brand: 98Forward.

While the name and brand has changed—the 24 years of communications knowledge and expertise remains the same. The agency’s new name, 98Forward, not only marks the year that the agency was founded, 1998, it signifies the continuity with its institutional legacy, and the trajectory of the Black-owned, woman-owned businesses: Forward.

The agency originally founded by Georgella Muirhead and the late Bob Berg as Berg Muirhead and Associates has grown to be one of the region’s leading public relations agencies. The agency has executed communications campaigns tailored to meet the needs of more than 150 clients from a diverse group of industries.  In 2016, Muirhead and Berg passed the torch onto Marilyn Horn, 98Forward’s current president and CFO, and her former business partner. Muirhead has remained engaged with the agency.

“98Forward allows us to put the best elements of our legacy up-front while connecting with the present and innovating for the future – we are here to stay,” said Marilyn Horn, president and CFO. “Our team is our greatest asset – eight of our 11 team members are long-time employees. Our entire team has been thoroughly engaged in the renaming and rebranding process, a true collaboration with different perspectives and skills – the foundation of our agency.” 

98Forward continues to provide comprehensive communications services, strategy and solutions for corporations, cultural institutions, government and non-profit organizations.

“Our new name and identity are as intentional as our indisputable position in the communications industry,” said Georgella Muirhead, APR, founder and CEO of 98Forward. “We are true to our origin and our name—allowing us to bring authentic and talented ideas to clients across Detroit, the Midwest and beyond. We remain diverse, driven and determined to serve our clients with expertise, strategy and integrity.”

98Forward is the largest Black-owned communications agency in Michigan and has held a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Certification for the last 24 years, taking pride in its Detroit-based roots and history.

The 11-member team has 139 years of combined communications experience. 98Forward continues to build up experiences and capacity at the agency. The long-time staff have extensive experience and executed countless communications campaigns. The agency’s engagement specialists continue to work in partnership with government officials, businesses, communities and residents; have served as state government officials; created change on major transportation and utility projects, as well as providing crisis communications and counsel to individuals and organizations.

In 2022, 98Forward announced a strategic partnership with Lambert, a national public relations and investor relations integrated agency spanning six major talent hubs including Detroit, Grand Rapids, Houston, New York and Phoenix.

The alliance is not a merger or buy-out, it is a strategic and collaborative partnership. 98Forward remains Michigan’s largest Black-owned communications agency based in Detroit. It continues executing strategic campaigns that resonate with clients’ industries, stakeholders and their target audiences. 98Forward is respected for its skill, integrity and dedication to not only its clients but its community across a variety of industries including government, transit, healthcare, education, nonprofit, cultural initiatives, technology, law, retail, entertainment, manufacturing, hospitality, real estate and insurance.

“This storied agency, now named 98Forward, has been a staple in Detroit and across the communication sector,” said Lambert CEO Michelle Olson, APR. “98Forward stands out not only by its diverse team of practitioners but also because of its proven track record, capabilities and expertise. The agency continues to push forward – always.”

The vast complement of services now offered by the 98Forward-Lambert alliance includes community engagement, internal and corporate communications; environmental social and governance (ESG) and diversity consulting, organizational development, communications, and cause-marketing; fractional diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) services and recruiting; and multi-cultural marketing spanning PR, digital, advertising, and integrated marketing focused on the “new majority”–people of color, women, and underrepresented stakeholders. 98Forward also builds on its proven track record of board placement and board development for women and diverse candidates focusing on paid-board positions and board and organizational audits, and consulting on action steps for corporate social responsibility (CSR) and ESG including programming, giving and foundation support.

 

98Forward continues to move forward. To set up a conversation about integrated communications services, call 313-872-2202 or email hello@98forward.com. 

 

Van Dyke Horn Public Relations New Strategic Partnership Brings New Capabilities & Hires

April 18, 2022

Antonice Strickland, Senior Account Executive
Kelsey Hartung, Senior Account Executive
Sabira Rahman, Account Executive
Jerel Jones, Account Executive

After the initial announcement of Van Dyke Horn Public Relations (VDH) and Lambert joining forces on March 30, we asked, what’s next? VDH today announced the hiring of four seasoned staff who make up the agency’s 11-member team.

VDH announced a strategic partnership with Lambert, a national integrated communications agency, on March 30, joining two of Michigan’s top PR agencies. VDH remains a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) business as it has for the last 24 years. The new alliance provides both firms with new opportunities and capabilities, including creative services, multimedia production, website, social media management and digital marketing. Both firms are already bringing shared assets and services to the table for their clients to help achieve goals. VDH plans to rename and rebrand in the next few weeks.

Kelsey Hartung and Antonice Strickland, MPS, join VDH as Senior Account Executives. Jerel Jones and Sabira Rahman have both joined as Account Executives.

Hartung has nearly 15 years of experience in public relations, community engagement, and event planning and management. Before VDH, Hartung handled corporate communications for Ilitch Holdings, Inc. in Detroit. Prior to that, she led communications and event planning for the legal staff at General Motors, served as director of communications and public affairs for the Public Lighting Authority, and worked at VDH from 2011 to 2014, when the agency was Berg Muirhead and Associates. She is eager to return to the storied agency where commitment to the community is the cornerstone of its work. Hartung received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Oakland University. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Detroit and the Rotary Club of Detroit.

Strickland is an award-winning public relations and communications professional with experience across nonprofit, fortune 500, and entertainment industries for a decade. In her previous roles, Strickland headed up marketing and public relations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, served as a senior account executive with Truscott Rossman, and was the communications manager for Black Women’s Health Imperative from Washington, D.C. She holds a Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Michigan State University. Strickland is a board member of PRSA Detroit and formerly served as chapter president of the National Black Public Relations Society. 

“Our new hires join our existing staff and senior leadership, bringing more skills and talents into the fold,” said Georgella Muirhead, APR, founder and CEO of VDH, “We continue to break down walls, and barriers to serve our employees, clients and community. This is our home.” 

Rahman is an experienced communicator with a concentration in PR, digital marketing, content creating and writing. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in communications and public relations, summa cum laude, from Wayne State University. Prior to VDH, she supported Featherstone, the Children’s Foundation and Beaumont Health with PR, digital marketing and media relations. Rahman is fluent in English, Bangla and Arabic.

Jones previously worked as a freelancer for Upwork and supported the Detroit Health Department with communications and social media before joining VDH. He has experience leading media relations and marketing campaigns for diverse clients through Lovio George, a communications and design agency. Jones received a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

“We remain committed to providing the highest quality of services to our clients and our community,” said Marilyn Horn, president and CFO of VDH. “We are eager to bring new capabilities to the table alongside Lambert–including creative services, video production, website design and more. VDH continues to grow in size, services and spirit. We are going back to our roots, which will be at the core of our new name and brand.” 

Hartung and Strickland will serve as day-to-day contacts for clients and teams in their new roles. They will lead the development of communications plans, reporting and analytics, communications campaigns, and marketing strategies. Jones and Rahman will play a critical role in implementing program strategies, assisting in PR and marketing plans, while conducting thorough research, media monitoring and drawing analytics. 

“The team keeps knocking it out of the park to attract top talent to the agency,” said Lambert CEO Michelle Olson, APR. “And, our partnership has already opened the doors to opportunities and clients we both would have walked away from alone. The two agencies have skills that continue to set each other apart — and together, we make a stronger team.”

Van Dyke Horn Public Relations and Lambert Global Announce Historic Strategic Alliance

March 28, 2022

Marilyn Horn, Van Dyke Horn President and CFO
Georgella Muirhead, Van Dyke Horn CEO
Jeff Lambert, Lambert Chairman
MO headshot (002)
Michelle Olson, Lambert APR, CEO

Two of Michigan’s top public relations and communications agencies today announced that they are joining forces. Van Dyke Horn Public Relations (VDH) and Lambert Global (“Lambert”) are pleased to announce they have entered a strategic partnership, combining VDH’s award-winning public relations and community engagement expertise with Lambert’s leading integrated communications and investor relations practice. VDH is the largest minority public relations agency in Michigan and has held a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Certification for the last 24 years.

Joining VDH’s current owner, President and CFO Marilyn Horn, Lambert will invest a less-than-majority stake in VDH. VDH will continue to be a minority-owned and managed entity, with all daily operations and management controlled by VDH. The joint go-to-market plan and growth strategy for collaborative projects between the two organizations will be co-led by Lambert CEO Michelle Olson, APR, and Chairman Jeff Lambert in concert with Marilyn Horn, VDH president and CFO, and Georgella Muirhead, VDH CEO.

Both firms were founded in 1998, and both are home-grown success stories, rising from startups to industry leaders spanning public relations, community engagement, investor relations, integrated marketing, corporate communications, and multi-cultural marketing. Both firms have shared clients and campaigns over the years in the non-profit and corporate sectors.

The vast compliment of services now offered by the Lambert-VDH alliance includes: community engagement, internal and corporate communications; ESG and diversity consulting, organizational development, communications, and cause-marketing; fractional DEI Officer services and recruiting; and multi-cultural marketing spanning PR, digital, advertising, and integrated marketing focused on the “new majority”–people of color, women, and underrepresented stakeholders. VDH will also build on its proven track record of board placement and board development for women and diverse candidates focusing on paid-board positions and board and organizational audits, and consulting on action steps for CSR and ESG including programming, giving and foundation support.

“In the communications field, where innovation and adaptation are essential to serve our clients, the credibility our agency has earned with clients and communities is an asset that we work constantly to develop and grow in new ways. That means being open to bold collaborations and the possibilities that they create, “said Marilyn Horn, president and CFO of VDH. “This partnership with Lambert strengthens the foundational values of this agency, as they were established by Georgella Muirhead and Bob Berg, to serve the region we call home, and it amplifies our ability to apply the lessons we’ve learned along the way to new challenges, new methods and new relationships across Michigan and beyond.” 

“As an agency, we’ve earned a reputation for integrity and leadership in the Detroit area, as well as work we’ve done with regional and statewide partners, for more than two decades in community and multi-cultural engagement, said Georgella Muirhead, APR, founder and CEO of VDH. “We believe that our record of success will serve us well as we broaden our portfolio to include more public company board rooms, national brands, and major institutions outside the state. Marilyn and I are thrilled to announce this formal partnership that will allow both agencies to grow and expand services for our clients more rapidly.”

“We’ve been minoring in DEI consulting and multi-cultural marketing, but this is an opportunity to major in it and to help the Van Dyke Horn team scale their services nationally and into fast growing sectors like private equity, public companies and ESG mandates,” said Michelle Olson, APR, CEO of Lambert. “This investment and partnership reflect the heart of our agency, it was part of my platform as PRSA National Board Chair, and I’m so fired up to put my words into action as part of the VDH team.”

Lambert founder and chairman Jeff Lambert added: “I founded the firm with a focus on growing our Return on Equity as a business metric, but this has expanded to also measuring the return on equity in our representation, our inclusion, in the clients we serve, and in our investments. This partnership – and our national consulting on diversity and multi-cultural marketing – is us doubling down on our commitment to be catalysts for change for our clients and any organization with the desire for growth.”

In addition to its investment in VDH, Lambert is a partner and minority equity owner in Hispanic-owned brand strategy, consulting and multi-cultural marketing firm 9th Wonder.