GillespieHall acquired by Philly PR agency
HOCKESSIN – GillespieHall, a leading Delaware public relations and strategic communications agency, has been acquired by a larger Philadelphia firm.
Slice Communications, a leading regional agency for public relations, social media, email marketing, and strategic communications, announced the acquisition Wednesday. The terms of the deal between the two private companies were not disclosed.
The combined firm would double the staff size to 25 and represent more than 40 clients. Former GillespieHall partner Clara Mattucci has joined its management team as chief operating officer alongside Cassandra “Cass” Bailey, CEO of the 14-year-old Slice.
Founded in 2006 by crisis management veteran Bridget Paverd, the Hockessin-based GillespieHall has grown a sizable presence in the First State in 16 years, representing a range of clients from behavioral health provider Brandywine Counseling & Community Services to energy developer and investor LS Power to medical marijuana provider First State Compassion. Its work has been recognized with dozens of awards in state and regional competitions as well.
Paverd told Delaware Business Times that she had been organizing a transition plan for the past few years as she expressed a desire to exit the firm at its height – it had a record revenue year in 2022 and has grown by 10% or more for the last five years – leaving her team in capable hands with a similar quality-focused culture.
At first, the agency sought to find a replacement for Paverd as a partner alongside Mattucci but stopped after more than a year of searching when they didn’t find a suitable choice, she said. Then serendipity struck early last year as Paverd was reading social media.
“I know Cass by reputation. I’ve read her books and I know her work, and they were competition, but I liked the company. I saw something that she posted on LinkedIn, and I thought to myself, ‘My God, that’s exactly what PR is. This woman gets it,’” she recalled.
Soon afterward, they set up a meeting and Paverd said she knew Slice would be the right fit for her agency within a few minutes of talking. The founding partner said she turned down two prior acquisition deals for GillespieHall but felt this was the right move.
“It was very different with Cass, she made GillespieHall employees, and our clients, absolutely centered in our discussion,” she said, noting that it was important her entire team made the transition.
For Bailey, who has built a following in the PR industry in the region especially through books and social media, the addition of GillespieHall will help add to Slice’s specialties and grow its market reach.
“This combination of talent doubles our capacity and bandwidth which is a huge benefit to our clients. We’re looking forward to an incredible year of growth that will place Slice among the top tier agencies in the mid-Atlantic region. Bridget and I are very appreciative of the commitment and dedication that has been extended by both our teams,” she said in a statement announcing the deal.
For Paverd, who has worked in the industry for 25 years and teaches crisis communication at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, it will mark a new chapter. She has agreed to join Slice as a consultant for a year or two and will likely return to more teaching and executive communication coaching.
As a leading voice among female small business owners, Paverd said she was thrilled that GillespieHall’s future would continue under the leadership of women like Bailey, Mattucci and Chief Strategy Officer Dana Schmidt.
“It’s lovely when businesswomen come together and are aligned. Cass and I have always held up our colleagues and helped others advance,” she said.
With the acquisition deal now closed, GillespieHall has moved from its historic Hockessin office on Old Lancaster Pike to leased space at The Mill Concord off U.S. Route 202.