Local PR firm Golden Word acquired by Canadian business group

GoldenWord2

Golden Word staffers in front of its trademarked motto, from left: Catherann Sweeney, Victoria Concepcion, Jean Luther, Melina DeNunzio, Ashley Mills and Jenna Weston. (Photo courtesy Golden Word)

An 8-year-old PR firm rooted in Richmond has joined up with a marketing and communications group with an international reach.

Golden Word, an eight-person agency founded by Elisabeth Edelman, was acquired earlier this year by 5th Business, a sales and marketing group based in Toronto with offices in Phoenix and Adelaide, Australia.

Edelman said the acquisition closed in the first quarter of this year. Terms of the deal, which was announced Wednesday, were not disclosed.

Edelman is staying on with the agency in a lead business development role, and Golden Word will continue with its name and current team, which now includes Managing Director Jennifer Salo, who is leading the agency for 5th Business. Salo also is a director at 5th Business’ other companies: Clever Samurai, a marketing strategy and communications firm; and 360 Leads, a sales lead generation company.

elisabeth edelman

Elisabeth Edelman

Edelman said she’d been thinking about joining up with another firm and began putting out feelers last year. She worked with New York-based M&A advisory firm Merge, which connected her with 5th Business and CEO Stuart Lewis. Edelman also worked with local firm Earley Business Legal.

“We’ve been growing over time and I came to realize that we could benefit from additional resources. Really it was all about supporting additional growth, making sure that we’re giving our clients and our employees the most opportunity possible,” Edelman said.

“One of the things that drew me to them was that they were very much of the mentality of ‘We want you to keep doing what you’re doing, we don’t want to change it, we just want to support you guys and make it as strong as possible and give you the resources and the additional vision that could help the company grow more,’” she said.

Lewis, who founded 5th Business in 1997, said Golden Word was a natural fit for the group, which was in growth mode and is currently finalizing another acquisition, he said. Lewis launched 360 Leads in 2013 and Clever Samurai the following year.

Stuart Lewis

Stuart Lewis

“We do have PR and social (media) capabilities that we have been delivering for many years, so it was certainly a business that we know how to operate and how to deliver good value for clients,” Lewis said. “And there was no cross-pollination of clients at all, so we’re able to offer the existing Golden Word clients any number of services that the group can provide where it makes sense.”

Where Golden Word has focused on public relations, social media and content marketing, its alignment with 5th Business gives it access to Clever Samurai’s marketing strategy and creative and 360 Leads’ business-to-business lead generation. And vice versa, Edelman said.

“We add some things that they didn’t have, and now we can offer our clients additional services in marketing strategy, digital marketing, design – things that we didn’t have access to before,” she said. “Golden Word will remain focused on PR and social media, but then we can pull on the other talents of our sister agencies to support our clients, to make it easy for them to get their marketing work done.”

Following stints at local PR firm Hodges Partnership and men’s clothing brand Ledbury, Edelman, a UR alum, launched Golden Word as a one-woman shop in 2016 with Ledbury as a client.

It’s also worked with Hardywood Park Craft Brewery and Blade and Bow Bourbon, and current clients include Shades of Light, Duke’s Mayo and Garden & Gun Magazine. Edelman said the latter is a particular point of pride.

“I think it really says something when media asks you to represent them,” she said.

GoldenWord RVA25

Edelman with team members at last year’s RVA 25 ceremony. (BizSense file)

Last year, Golden Word landed on BizSense’s RVA 25 list of the region’s fastest-growing companies, with 87 percent average annual growth over the previous three years. It also registered a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its motto: “Talk like a human.”

Having established Golden Word as a brand, Edelman said she’s happy that 5th Business wants to see it continue.

“It’s kind of a dream to find someone who’s like: I want to keep the name, I want to keep doing what you’re doing, I want to keep the entire team, we love your clients. That’s so flattering,” she said. “I put so much time and energy into this, I’m open to change, but I also am really proud of what we’ve done, so for someone to come in and say I just want to continue with this spirit is really nice.”

Lewis and Salo said their goal for Golden Word is to grow it with the addition of clients as well as additional services for its existing ones. Lewis declined to share Golden Word’s annual revenue but said the firm has picked up new clients since the acquisition.

Salo is based in Toronto but said she travels to Richmond quarterly and stays connected with the team through calls and virtual meetings. She said Golden Word would seek out clients that fit with its current portfolio, which includes home furnishings, interior design and food-and-beverage businesses such as wineries, breweries and restaurants.

jennifer salo

Jennifer Salo

“Our goal is to seek out clients that we want to help by offering them a diverse set of services, now that we have access to them, and build relationships with them in hopes that they become our clients,” Salo said. “We might even go as far as putting together sales lead generation activities and having some of the 360 Lead division start reaching out to potential clients.”

While Edelman is staying on with Golden Word, she said the arrangement will allow her to step back from leading the firm and pursue a longtime interest in writing and becoming a published author.

“I’m going to pursue some creative passions that I haven’t been able to do in the past,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to be an author. I’ve written a couple books a long time ago that never were published, and it’s always just been a passion, one of those things that’s like, ‘OK, I’ll do it one day.’ After a while, it’s like, ‘If not now, then when?’”

Golden Word is based at 711 N. Alliston St., where it’s been based since 2019. The firm previously shared a building with interior design firm Flourish Spaces in the Jackson Ward area.

The deal follows another acquisition this year involving local PR firms. In January, Big Spoon acquired The Apple Cart Co., a 10-year-old consultancy likewise focused on food and restaurant clients.

GoldenWord2

Golden Word staffers in front of its trademarked motto, from left: Catherann Sweeney, Victoria Concepcion, Jean Luther, Melina DeNunzio, Ashley Mills and Jenna Weston. (Photo courtesy Golden Word)

An 8-year-old PR firm rooted in Richmond has joined up with a marketing and communications group with an international reach.

Golden Word, an eight-person agency founded by Elisabeth Edelman, was acquired earlier this year by 5th Business, a sales and marketing group based in Toronto with offices in Phoenix and Adelaide, Australia.

Edelman said the acquisition closed in the first quarter of this year. Terms of the deal, which was announced Wednesday, were not disclosed.

Edelman is staying on with the agency in a lead business development role, and Golden Word will continue with its name and current team, which now includes Managing Director Jennifer Salo, who is leading the agency for 5th Business. Salo also is a director at 5th Business’ other companies: Clever Samurai, a marketing strategy and communications firm; and 360 Leads, a sales lead generation company.

elisabeth edelman

Elisabeth Edelman

Edelman said she’d been thinking about joining up with another firm and began putting out feelers last year. She worked with New York-based M&A advisory firm Merge, which connected her with 5th Business and CEO Stuart Lewis. Edelman also worked with local firm Earley Business Legal.

“We’ve been growing over time and I came to realize that we could benefit from additional resources. Really it was all about supporting additional growth, making sure that we’re giving our clients and our employees the most opportunity possible,” Edelman said.

“One of the things that drew me to them was that they were very much of the mentality of ‘We want you to keep doing what you’re doing, we don’t want to change it, we just want to support you guys and make it as strong as possible and give you the resources and the additional vision that could help the company grow more,’” she said.

Lewis, who founded 5th Business in 1997, said Golden Word was a natural fit for the group, which was in growth mode and is currently finalizing another acquisition, he said. Lewis launched 360 Leads in 2013 and Clever Samurai the following year.

Stuart Lewis

Stuart Lewis

“We do have PR and social (media) capabilities that we have been delivering for many years, so it was certainly a business that we know how to operate and how to deliver good value for clients,” Lewis said. “And there was no cross-pollination of clients at all, so we’re able to offer the existing Golden Word clients any number of services that the group can provide where it makes sense.”

Where Golden Word has focused on public relations, social media and content marketing, its alignment with 5th Business gives it access to Clever Samurai’s marketing strategy and creative and 360 Leads’ business-to-business lead generation. And vice versa, Edelman said.

“We add some things that they didn’t have, and now we can offer our clients additional services in marketing strategy, digital marketing, design – things that we didn’t have access to before,” she said. “Golden Word will remain focused on PR and social media, but then we can pull on the other talents of our sister agencies to support our clients, to make it easy for them to get their marketing work done.”

Following stints at local PR firm Hodges Partnership and men’s clothing brand Ledbury, Edelman, a UR alum, launched Golden Word as a one-woman shop in 2016 with Ledbury as a client.

It’s also worked with Hardywood Park Craft Brewery and Blade and Bow Bourbon, and current clients include Shades of Light, Duke’s Mayo and Garden & Gun Magazine. Edelman said the latter is a particular point of pride.

“I think it really says something when media asks you to represent them,” she said.

GoldenWord RVA25

Edelman with team members at last year’s RVA 25 ceremony. (BizSense file)

Last year, Golden Word landed on BizSense’s RVA 25 list of the region’s fastest-growing companies, with 87 percent average annual growth over the previous three years. It also registered a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its motto: “Talk like a human.”

Having established Golden Word as a brand, Edelman said she’s happy that 5th Business wants to see it continue.

“It’s kind of a dream to find someone who’s like: I want to keep the name, I want to keep doing what you’re doing, I want to keep the entire team, we love your clients. That’s so flattering,” she said. “I put so much time and energy into this, I’m open to change, but I also am really proud of what we’ve done, so for someone to come in and say I just want to continue with this spirit is really nice.”

Lewis and Salo said their goal for Golden Word is to grow it with the addition of clients as well as additional services for its existing ones. Lewis declined to share Golden Word’s annual revenue but said the firm has picked up new clients since the acquisition.

Salo is based in Toronto but said she travels to Richmond quarterly and stays connected with the team through calls and virtual meetings. She said Golden Word would seek out clients that fit with its current portfolio, which includes home furnishings, interior design and food-and-beverage businesses such as wineries, breweries and restaurants.

jennifer salo

Jennifer Salo

“Our goal is to seek out clients that we want to help by offering them a diverse set of services, now that we have access to them, and build relationships with them in hopes that they become our clients,” Salo said. “We might even go as far as putting together sales lead generation activities and having some of the 360 Lead division start reaching out to potential clients.”

While Edelman is staying on with Golden Word, she said the arrangement will allow her to step back from leading the firm and pursue a longtime interest in writing and becoming a published author.

“I’m going to pursue some creative passions that I haven’t been able to do in the past,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to be an author. I’ve written a couple books a long time ago that never were published, and it’s always just been a passion, one of those things that’s like, ‘OK, I’ll do it one day.’ After a while, it’s like, ‘If not now, then when?’”

Golden Word is based at 711 N. Alliston St., where it’s been based since 2019. The firm previously shared a building with interior design firm Flourish Spaces in the Jackson Ward area.

The deal follows another acquisition this year involving local PR firms. In January, Big Spoon acquired The Apple Cart Co., a 10-year-old consultancy likewise focused on food and restaurant clients.

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