Former AgencySpy Editor Matt Van Hoven Launched an Agency PR Firm

By Erik Oster 

Matt Van Hoven recently teamed up with Hollie Rapello to launch Raven Public Relations, a PR firm specializing in public relations for ad agencies.

Longtime AgencySpy readers will remember Van Hoven, who served as editor of this site from 2008-2010, immediately preceding The Kiran Years. You probably wrote at least one comment complaining about him. After running this site, he went on to serve as a digital content director at ViTRO, branded content specialist at VaynerMedia and digital content strategist at The Buntin Group in Nashville.

Now he and Rapello, who has spent time as an account executive and director with Lowe & Partners and Y&R New York, are utilizing their ad industry experience to shake up agency communications strategy. In addition to the earned media in trade publications which agency PR has typically relied on, Raven will utilize paid media placements on social networks and in other publications. Its partners believe this will be a key differentiator and lead to a better return on investment for clients.

“From a business growth perspective, press is worth nothing to agencies if the right people don’t see it—brands, procurement, journalists and talent,” Van Hoven told Adweek. “Meanwhile, they’re paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to earn media and then either hoping potential clients see it before it disappears forever or humble-tweeting the link. It’s crazy. No agency would behave this way when launching a campaign for a brand, so why they do it with their own brand makes no sense.”

“That’s the main reason PR is one of the first departments to get cut when budgets get tight. It’s overhead not tied to revenue,” Van Hoven explained. “We’re looking to change that, to bring real value to our clients.”

Van Hoven believes that, in addition to his agency experience, his time as an AgencySpy editor has also prepared him for the challenge. “I had to break through with stories that weren’t being written elsewhere that people would care about,” he said,” adding that the experience “translates well for PR—in a field where there’s so many similar stories, thought leadership pieces, speeches etc. you have to be able to stand out.”

So far Raven counts three agencies as clients: Wondersauce, New Heartland Group and Brandtuitive.