Broad Sky backs BPI, following on heels of KKR’s investment in FGS Global

'C-suites across all industries are faced with increasingly complex communication demands,' said Broad Sky's Evan Azus.

It’s more important than ever before for a company to communicate effectively in real time, especially when you consider that its reputation can be made or broken at lightning speed, thanks to social media and nonstop news. As demand for strategic communications grows, organizations are turning to specialized agencies, and PE firms are quickly snatching them up.

Later this morning, New York PE firm Broad Sky Partners is expected to announce a significant investment in Bully Pulpit Interactive (BPI), a Washington DC-based organization that focuses on the “persuasion business,” including strategic communications and public affairs. Broad Sky bought the stake from Svoboda Capital Partners, which remains a minority investor.

The deal follows KKR‘s announcement earlier in April that it would make a growth investment in FGS Global, a global strategic advisory and communications consultancy based in New York.

PE Hub caught up with Evan Azus, a principal and a member of the deal team at Broad Sky, and Andrew Bleeker, the president of BPI, to discuss what’s driving growth in the sector.

The strategic communications industry is large and fragmented with secular tailwinds, Azus said.

Evan Azus, Broad Sky Partners, Andrew Bleeker, BPI

“C-suites across all industries are faced with increasingly complex communication demands, as they’re being asked to engage with more stakeholders across more channels,” he noted, adding that Broad Sky has been exploring the sector since 2021.

Dealing with the fast-paced complexity of the world is putting pressure on organizations, particularly businesses. “They are required to be leaders in many topics that are not their core business, and they are being held accountable by many stakeholders beyond customers,” Bleeker said.

Some thorny areas that have proved vexing to some executives, and often landed them in trouble, are topics like ESG, politics and social issues.

BPI offers integrated marketing and communications services to a wide array of clients, including Fortune 100 brands, advocacy groups, philanthropies and campaigns. The company aims to help organizations navigate different engagements from different stakeholders, such as regulators, the media, employees, shareholders and more.

“Broad Sky is looking to partner with outstanding leadership teams operating in large, fragmented essential services sectors with thematic tailwinds, who have a repeatable model for growth both organically and inorganically,” Azus said. “After meeting Andrew and the team, learning more about their growing roster of blue chip clients, and seeing their proprietary technology tools up close, we became further convinced that BPI is aligned with our investment philosophy.”

With high-profile strategists and communication experts, Bleeker said BPI is well-positioned to help large organizations not just battle, “but lead through it and win around the world and in the marketplace.”

These experts range from former White House press secretaries, former presidential pollsters, former corporate chief spokespeople, and more. Recently, BPI brought aboard former Biden Administration speechwriter Jeff Nussbaum as a partner, and he will help spearhead the launch of BPI’s next-generation executive communications practice.

Other partners include Bradley Akubuiro, a former chief spokesperson and head of global media relations at Boeing; and Robert Gibbs, the former global chief communications officer at McDonald’s.

BPI’s clients are looking for strategic support, said Azus, adding that the BPI team has unique expertise developing, refining messages and reaching audiences.

“Companies are looking for a single partner that excels in both strategy and execution,” he said. “BPI has demonstrated a strong record of delivering outcomes for clients, with its talented team and suite of differentiated tech-enabled tools.”

Besides leveraging the deep experience of its internal team, BPI said it has some tech tools at its disposal to help smooth its business. “There is a huge gap in teams who are building for persuasion, and we have been able to create a tech suite that makes us very differentiated and sticky to our clients,” Bleeker said.

What’s going to shape BPI’s growth is the desire to find and add more best-in-class communications professionals who will embrace the organization’s people-first culture, the Broad Sky principal said. Growth will be driven by acquisitions, expanding geographic scope and service areas.