(Photo Credit: Ara Howrani, Howrani Studios)
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.