Fishman PR Announces Changes in Top Leadership Posts

Sherri and Brad Fishman Fishman PR

New Roles are Designed to Empower Team Members and Support Franchise Clients

Most people in franchising are familiar with Fishman PR’s work — whether they know it or not. The niche public relations firm has been putting franchisors in the spotlight through content marketing and brand awareness campaigns since 1991. By masterfully telling stories about franchise brands and the people behind them, Fishman’s work compels and inspires hopeful entrepreneurs to learn more. Fishman has helped hundreds of franchisors attract quality franchisees and customers by creating content that moves people.

Storytelling is what Fishman PR does best, but they also have their own story to tell. Led by husband-and-wife-team Sherri and Brad Fishman (top photo), the innovative Fishman team is passionate about franchising and has been a major force in fostering its growth. In an effort to ensure the agency’s future success and empower loyal team members, Fishman PR recently shuffled responsibilities among five of its executives.

Founder-owner Sherri Fishman moved from president to co-CEO; her husband, Brad Fishman, was CEO and is now co-CEO; and their son Zack becomes chief growth officer after previously serving as director of innovation. The agency’s new president is Debra Vilchis, who formerly held the role of chief operating officer, and Sara Faiwell has been named the new COO, moving up from senior vice president.

Fishman PR
From left to right: Debra Vilchis, Zack Fishman and Sara Faiwell.

“When we set the date for the agency leadership transitions to take place, we strategically chose March 4 – as in marching forth, taking steps forward,” Vilchis says. “This was about setting ourselves up for ongoing future success of the agency and ultimately our current and future franchise clients. We also wanted to empower some of our longstanding, loyal team members with leadership positions and future growth opportunities with the company.”

Vilchis says that the executive team changes “revolve around serving and supporting our two most valuable assets – our clients and our employees. One cannot exist without the other. As our agency continues to consistently grow year over year, having a solid infrastructure and strong leaders in place is key. With that in mind, we carefully examined our current team and put people in roles that maximize their strongest skills and passions. When you do that, people do their greatest work and everyone wins – themselves, the people they manage and the clients they serve.” 

Furthering Fishman PR’s Mission

Fishman PR
Fishman PR President Debra Vilchis leads a team brainstorming session.

Sherri Fishman says her co-CEO role “will allow me to focus more on the big picture with Brad, while communicating regularly with our leaders on the execution of our vision, and of course, building great relationships with existing and potential clients.” Brad Fishman points out that although his role is largely unchanged, “I’m excited that Sherri and I can work more closely together as visionaries,” and he says they will “stay focused on refining services that are relevant for what franchisors need and want, and always be mindful for what might be coming around the corner.” Their son Zack praised his “trailblazing parents,” and referring to his promotion, added that “I look forward to being a part of the growth” for the family business. 

Vilchis calls her promotion “an incredible opportunity” and plans “to apply the lessons I’ve learned from watching great leaders and from the years of experience as COO to this new role. I have the double benefit of having Sherri and Brad as co-CEOs for continued guidance and support as we take the agency to new levels.” Faiwell expresses excitement about furthering Fishman PR’s “mission of helping franchise brands grow and increase the success of entrepreneurs throughout North America.”

Fishman Public Relations was established in 1991 by Sherri Fishman, who had worked with franchisor clients in her first PR job after college. She saw that franchisors had special needs in public relations and planted her flag in that niche when starting the firm on a shoestring. Based in the Chicago area, Fishman PR now has more than 50 employees with secondary agencies that serve emerging and established franchise brands in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. 

Fishman PR’s Services and Values

Fishman PR
A requirement of every team member at Fishman PR is to regularly bring new ideas, suggestions and constructive feedback.

Today Fishman leaders take pride “in innovating to stay relevant within the changing media landscape… always adapting our strategies as needed,” with high-tech investments so that staffers can reach influencers, podcasters and other digital VIPs along with traditional media audiences, according to company statements. These efforts have been rewarded: Fishman has been the No. 1 public relations firm in franchising in Entrepreneur magazine’s rankings for four consecutive years. 

Clients praise the agency’s ability to generate quality franchise leads, manage crisis communications, and increase consumer brand awareness locally to nationally through precise targeting and on-point messaging. The firm also provides content marketing such as blogging, videos and infographics plus social media strategies to help clients share and amplify their stories with their most crucial audiences. The company’s executive team emphasizes that remaining faithful to its core values of “empathize, exceed, own, improve, open and encourage” have steered its pivotal decisions through its decades of service. But the “improve” ingredient has been most crucial: “No matter how big we get, how many accolades we receive, we realize that complacency is our enemy,” Vilchis says. “We engrain in every staff member upon hiring and ongoing that one of their job requirements is to regularly bring us new ideas, suggestions and constructive feedback. By sticking to this and remaining open to change and improving, we set ourselves up to only get better with age.” To learn more about Fishman PR, contact Zack Fishman at

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Jill Abrahamsen’s career spans more than 20 years in editorial, design, and marketing roles. She serves as editor-in-chief of Franchise Consultant Magazine and FranchiseWire. Through both platforms, Jill reports on industry news and helps Franchisors spread the word about their brands.
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