30 In Their Thirties: Nikki Little, Senior Vice President, Co-owner, Franco, Detroit

Nikki Little had her eye on a career in public relations since high school. Now she’s a senior vice president and co-owner of Franco, a communications firm in downtown Detroit that’s celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2024. It’s also a fully women-owned and women-led business.
11
Nikki Little. // Photo by Trever Long 

Nikki Little had her eye on a career in public relations since high school. Now she’s a senior vice president and co-owner of Franco, a communications firm in downtown Detroit that’s celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2024. It’s also a fully women-owned and women-led business.

“I’ve always loved writing, but I didn’t want to go into journalism,” Little says. “When I was in high school, I learned about public relations from a family friend who had a PR role at a bank. I did a job shadow with her and really liked it.”

Shortly thereafter, she found out about the integrated communications program at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant and enrolled. After graduating in December 2006, she went right to work for Franco. She spent the first three years of her career working her way up from an assistant account executive to a senior account executive.

During those early years, she struck up a professional and personal friendship with current Franco majority owner Tina Kozak — a relationship that would pay dividends later.

Looking to gain more experience in the industry, Little left Franco to become director of communications at White Glove financial advisers in Troy, where she managed all internal and external communication efforts for the company. She also spent seven years at Identity PR in Birmingham, starting as a social media specialist and eventually moving into the director of social media role.

In September 2019, Kozak asked her to come back to Franco. “I stressed that if I was going to come back that I wanted to be involved in leadership and growing the agency,” Little recalls. In 2022, she was offered a chance to invest in the business.

In March 2024, the agency completed an ownership transition from former Chairman Dan Ponder to CEO Kozak. COO and President Tina Sullivan and Little maintained their minority stakes in the business.

Little credits relationships, among other factors, with her rise in the PR business.

“Had I not maintained the relationship I have with Tina Kozak, I wouldn’t be here today,” she says. “I’m a very organized, determined, passionate person. I very much value accountability and doing what you say you’re going to do. I’ve built a lot of trust with the people I’ve worked with over the years.”

Little, who oversees Franco’s efforts to market itself, says the firm’s 60th anniversary is one of the highlights of her career so far.

“What we’re doing right now with our 60th anniversary campaign, we really are practicing what we preach to our clients — showing the value and importance of integrated communications.”