By Bennet Marcus

Expertise, the highly respected media research firm, has named R. Couri Hay Creative Public Relations to their top 20 list of The Best New York PR Firms for the second year in a row.

The exclusive list was announced in January 2018 and was made after an exhaustive review of 2,050 competing companies. The firm was founded by publicist and society columnist R. Couri Hay who represents clients in a wide range of fields including art, philanthropy, hospitality, food and beverage, law, medicine, beauty, jewelry, fashiondesign, and event planning

“The mission of the company is to mingle luxury and philanthropy,” says Couri. Almost everything they do has a philanthropic element. “Good publicity is about creating a compelling story, and I prefer it when that story involves giving back to the community.”

Luxury Meets Philanthropy

When helping to plan events for clients like Prada, Bulgari, Escada, and Bergdorf Goodman, Hay would always suggest a charitable cause be involved. When Harry Winston wanted to show off the world’s largest green diamond, Couri organized a viewing party for the wealthy patrons of the Central Park Conservancy, where Hay ensured that Winston made a donation to the Conservancy’s work.

He has also handled PR events for Stoney Brook Southampton Hospital, the Juilliard School, Live at Lincoln Center, the Southampton Animal Shelter, and the American Ballet Theatre, to name but a few.

At Audrey Gruss’ Hope for Depression Research Foundation lunch this year, they brought in Ashley Judd to speak, just as the Harvey Weinstein scandal was unfolding.  “I know how to make news and get a client’s key messages communicated. Ashley got a lot of positive attention by speaking about her own depression, and the need to fund depression research. “ said Hay.

Work with What You Love

Hay’s clients are a composite of all of the things he is passionate about. He grew up steeped in the arts, and the firm now represents nine different art fairs, including Art Miami and Art New York.

With his love of grand hotels and fine food, Hay’s hospitality clients include top chefs and food festivals such as Marcus Samuelsson’s and Herb Karlitz’s Harlem EatUp!, renowned caterers and event planners like Andrea Correale and Harriet Rose Katz, and hotels including The Plaza Athene, The Sanctuary and The Rivington. Hay has also represented Veuve Clicquot, Krug, the 21 Club, Phillipe and Smith & Wollensky.

Hay is a fan of beauty and grooming products, and as his company evolved, so has his client roster. Cosmetics giants Peter Thomas Roth and June Jacobs are among his clients. “I have a lot of fun putting all these different aspects of my life together, and that is why I built the firm. “As a company, we are all very creative in our thinking. I think out of the box, way out of the box. ” he laughs. “I also have a terrific team and I believe in the team approach. We all do it better together.”

Lifelong Philanthropist

Hay’s father’s family is from Boston and he was brought up to give back. His mother was active in the community and a friend of Hollywood star Bette Davis. Hay says, “My mother was chairman of the American Red Cross drive in our city and I remember helping her make fund raising folders when I was five. I still have the picture from the local paper of us stuffing envelopes.”

Business people, attorneysdoctors and the socialites that Hay advises often sit on the boards of nonprofits. “ With everyone that I represent, I always stress the philanthropic approach,” says Hay. “And if they don’t have one, I help them find organizations and causes that they can be passionate about.”

Learning from the Best

 Andy Warhol discovered Hay at the Ritz Paris where the teen was dining with his grandmother and soon enough he began running around New York with him, where he learned about art and the importance of publicty. “No one knew more about promotion than Andy,” said Hay.

Couri went on to work as an editor for Warhol’s Interview magazine while still in college, helped start the Chatter column for People magazine, wrote for Town & Country and was mentored by Aileen Mehle who wrote the definitive society column Suzy in the  New York Post , WWD and W . He has appeared regularly as a television commentator on PBS, The Today Show, FOX and VH1 talking about Hollywood, society and royalty. Currently, he is  a contributing writer atHamptons magazine and the society columnist for Avenue magazine.

Couri segued to nightclubs, doing PR for parties at Studio 54 , Area and Palladium, and then as a partner at Tatou he was hiring publicists to promote the super club before realizing that he could do it better, “I understood how to blend journalism and publicity and it worked.”

 Art, Artists and Design PR

Couri Hay Creative PR is a top art PR agency, known globally for promoting artistsart fairs, designers, and their work. One client is third-generation Swissart gallery owner Isabelle Bscher, who represents major contemporary artistslike Picasso, Miro, Christo and Louise Nevelson, as well as Karl Lagerfeld’s photography, and architects Zaha Hadid and Richard Meier.

Hay’s client M.S. Rau, the renowned New Orleans-based antiques dealer, shows at major fairs such as the New York Art, Antique and Jewelry Show – also a client.

Hay recently began representing emerging street artist WhIsBe, who is among the creatives invited by Larry Silverstein to paint vacant space at 4 World Trade Center, where his “Vandal Gummy” installation has become a tourist attraction.

When Hay looks back at the beginning, he says, “I woke up and realized that luxury brands, socialites, philanthropic organizations and professional people all needed something I had learned to do by osmosis.” Hay opened his PR firm in New York in the 1980s and it continues to flourish. This summer, he will once again be spliting his time between his offices in New York and  Southampton so don’t be surprised if you see him on the beach with his King Charles Cavaliers, Cornelia and Webster.