French/West/Vaughan (FWV), one of the nation’s largest independently-owned public relations, advertising and digital marketing agencies, announced that agency principal Natalie Best has been appointed the firm’s first Chief Operating Officer.
Recognized in 2017 by national industry journal PR News as one of its Top Women in PR, Best had previously served as Executive Vice President & Director of Client Services for the Raleigh-headquartered agency since 2010. As COO, she will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of FWV together with President David Gwyn, reporting to Chairman & CEO Rick French. She also serves as Secretary/Treasurer for IPREX, the $380 million network of worldwide communication agencies, which includes FWV.
A graduate of the UNC – Chapel Hill School of Media and Journalism, Best joined FWV in 2002 after working in PR roles with the Charlotte Hornets and with the NBA in its New York headquarters. She has been important in the agency’s growth, helping bolster business development, client retention and recruitment. She was named an agency principal in 2009.
Best is a Triangle Business Journal “40 Under 40” Leadership Award Winner, a graduate of Leadership Raleigh and was named a Business Leader Magazine “Mover & Shaker.”
“Natalie has been instrumental in helping David and I build our agency into a nationally recognized powerhouse with a blue-chip client roster, and we are proud to call her our partner,” said French. “We could not be in better hands with her as our COO.”
Since its founding in 1997, the 113-person agency has emerged as one of America’s most successful mid-sized public relations, advertising and digital marketing firms. Ranked among the nation’s 15 largest PR firms overall (2018 O’Dwyer’s Ranking of Top U.S. PR Firms), FWV has captured 15 National Agency of the Year honors and has been ranked in the Top 10 of the Holmes Report Global Creative Index, as well as the #1 Agency “For People Who Like the People They Work With.”
“It is both an honor and a responsibility to continue this journey and help guide the future of FWV,” said Best. “We have a strong agency leadership team in place, and I’ve been challenged to bring forward groundbreaking ideas that offer value to our clients and continue to set the agency apart from its peers.”
In addition to her leadership at FWV, Best has been active on numerous non-profit boards, including the Wake Tech Foundation (present), NC Child (Board of Directors, 2008-2015), the Poe Center for Health Education (Board of Directors, 2005-2013), the Alexander Family YMCA (Advisory Board 2012-2018) and the UNC Media and Journalism School Alumni & Friends Board.