European Consultancies of the Year 2004
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

European Consultancies of the Year 2004

Our Agencies of the Year in Europe, from pan-European Consultancy of the Year Hill & Knowlton to Public Affairs Consultancy of the Year Interel to German Consultancy of the Year Herring Schuppener.

Paul Holmes

Pan European Consultancy of the Year: Hill & Knowlton

Hill & Knowlton has the most extensive, most mature and most consistent European network of any full-service firm. What’s more, H&K is strongest where it matter most: in the U.K., where it ranks in the top three and enjoys a superior reputation; Brussels, where it has a strong, multi-sector public affairs capability; and Germany, where strong corporate and technology capabilities are being supplemented by growing healthcare and consumer practices.

Consumer Consultancy of the Year: The Red Consultancy

When The Red Consultancy was sold to Incepta in 2001, people wondered whether the firm would lose its creative edge, that special quality that had earned it so many awards in its seven year history. In 2004, with founders Lesley Brend and David Fuller playing a less active role, there were similar questions. But rivals waiting for a stumble shouldn’t hold their breath. Employees and clients alike continue to give the firm high marks for its culture and creativity, and most competitors still see it as the benchmark for their own consumer programming.

Corporate Consultancy of the Year: Blue Rubicon

A rigorous approach to stakeholder analysis and account planning—the firm hired its first researcher when it was just four people strong—help set Blue Rubicon apart from its competition. Combining expertise in media relations, public affairs and CSR, it provides 360-degree solutions to corporate reputation problems, with a generous splash of creative thinking.

Healthcare Consultancy of the Year: Red Door Communications

Just four years old, Red Door has quickly established itself as a thought-leader in the healthcare PR arena, playing an active role in founding of the Healthcare Communications Association and in efforts to encourage greater accountability. The firm has also picked up some blue-chip clients and more than its share of awards.

Financial Consultancy of the Year: Brunswick Group

After a couple of years during which the M&A and IPO businesses saw quite a decline in activity, the market bounced back this year, and on the PR side the universe was more competitive than ever, with some faded stars making a comeback and some newcomers making quite an impact right out of the gate. But the M&A league tables make it clear that in the U.K. and across Europe, Brunswick is still the firm to beat.

Public Affairs Consultancy of the Year: Interel

Despite the recent influx of major multinationals into Brussels—where clients demand high-level access to European institutions and an understanding of the way issues need to be framed to influence those institutions—Interel remains among the market leaders, with top-notch expertise in industries such as financial services and technology and on issues ranging from obesity to the environment.

Technology Consultancy of the Year: Lewis

While other established technology firms were waving goodbye to clients and people during the recession, Lewis was continuing to grow, continuing to pay bonuses, continuing to plough 75 percent of profits back into the business, and expanding into new markets. The firm’s aggressive, in-your-face style may not be for everyone, but it’s won enough fans among clients to fuel its launch in the U.S. and to make its plans for a truly global operation credible.

French Consultancy of the Year: i&e

The largest independent public relations firm in France has been working with U.S. multinationals for more than 40 years, so it’s not surprising that if provides standards of quality and professionalism every bit as high as firms of similar size in the U.S. Its corporate and consumer credentials are equally strong, and it’s quite capable of managing pan-European programming for clients domestic and international.

German Consultancy of the Year: Herring Schuppener

With four offices (Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Hamburg), 100 consultants and a focus on business-critical corporate communications, financial PR (it’s number one in the M&A arena in Germany), and branding, Hering Schuppener has quickly established itself as a leader in the German market. Partnerships with The Maitland Consultancy on financial PR and GCI on most other kinds of work give it a genuine pan-European reach.

New Europe Consultancy of the Year: Mmd Public Relations

With the accession of 10 new Eastern European members to the European Union this summer, there’s a new focus on the spending power (and the political clout) of “new Europe,” and no consultancy is better positioned to benefit from that focus that Mmd, which has a 10-year track record in the region and in recent years has emerged as the largest player in a market where relatively few of the multinational firms have truly established themselves.

Nordic Consultancy of the Year: Kreab

The archetypal Nordic public relations agency, KREAB is all business: its focus almost exclusively on corporate reputation and public affairs and a senior team that’s second to none in Europe: a former director of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, a former Mayor of Stockholm and—just for good measure—a former Prime Minister as non-executive chairman.

Spanish Consultancy of the Year: Burson-Marsteller

Prior to Sarbanes Oxley, Burson-Marsteller was consistently ranked number one in the Spanish market, offering a mix of corporate, public affairs, consumer and crisis communications services, with local clients including Telefonica and electric utility Endesa, and a blue-chip list of multinationals. With founder Carlos Lareau now serving as co-CEO for Burson’s European operations, the office is even more critical to the firm’s regional revival.

U.K. Consultancy of the Year: Fishburn Hedges

Also named Best Consultancy to Work For by its employees, Fishburn Hedges is a perfect example of the value chain in action: the firm takes care of its employees, who do stellar award-winning work for clients, who ensure profitability and growth in good times and bad. A leader in public affairs, corporate social responsibility, and employee communications, and among financial services and public sector clients, the firm’s latest move involves the opening of a new consumer unit.

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