Asia-Pacific Consultancy of the Year: Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide
Following an aggressive acquisition spree in the first couple of years of the new decade, Ogilvy is now the largest public relations network in the Asia-Pacific region by a considerable margin—by some estimates, twice as big as its nearest competitor. The firm has about 850 people in its 21 wholly-owned offices around the region and contributes about a third of Ogilvy’s worldwide public relations revenues—again, significantly more than any of its rivals. And Ogilvy has been growing, particularly in the high-value sectors it has identified as strategic opportunities, with new business last year from regional and multi-market clients. It has 350 people in mainland China, including 120 at subsidiary H-Line Ogilvy; 45 more in Hong Kong; and 80 in Taipei. Australia is another major strength, with an operation built through the acquisition of multiple specialists and increasingly working on cross-practice business. The firm also has the strongest leadership team in the region, headed by Christopher Graves, a veteran media executive who had held senior roles at CNBC and Dow Jones and served as managing director of the Far Eastern Economic Review.
Australia Consultancy of the Year: Professional Public Relations
Founded in 1970 by Peter Lazar, a veteran broadcast journalist and panelist who made his name as a campaigner for fluoridation of the water supply in New South Wales, Professional Public Relations has grown from its Sydney base to become one of Australia’s few genuinely national (it now has additional offices in Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, and Brisbane) and international (Auckland, Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai—with plans for a Singapore office in 2008) public relations firms. It employs around 200 consultants and ranks among the market leaders in most of the major Antipodean markets, including Sydney, Perth, Auckland, Brisbane and Melbourne. The firm enjoyed healthy growth across all practice areas and geographies in 2007, with the natural resources technology and professional services sectors and the Melbourne, Western Australia and Greater China operations leading the way
Greater China Consultancy of the Year: BlueFocus PR Consulting
Established in 1996, when public relations in China was still very much in its infancy, BlueFocus is now the largest independent public relations firm in the country, with more than 300 employees in 19 offices and revenues for 2006 of close to $12 million. It is also among the most respected: the firm was named Beijing consultancy of the year by Media magazine in its Asia Pacific PR Awards and is more than capable of competing for blue-chip multinational business with the giant western agencies that have been beefing up their own China operations over the past few years. Revenues were up an estimated 50 percent last year, with much of the growth driven by growth in digital communications, the technology sector, and Olympics-related business. Major clients include Canon, Cisco, eBay and Lenovo in the IT sector; automotive brands Fiat and GM; GSK, Novartis and Roche in pharmaceuticals; and consumer brands Bosch, Dulux, Pepsi, and Wrigley.
India Consultancy of the Year: Genesis Burson-Marsteller
Burson’s largest operation in the Asia-Pacific, at least in terms of people, is also one of its newest, the Genesis Burson-Marsteller operation, acquired in 2005, which has seven offices in India and about 180 people. Genesis is widely considered to be the premiere public relations brand on the sub-continent, with significant corporate expertise and strengths in healthcare and technology, as well as a public affairs capability strengthened by the launch of the Burson-owned BKS&H lobbying brand in India late in 2007, and Genesis principals Prema Sagar and Ashwani Singla are among the most respected practitioners in the region, playing a leadership role in the Indian public relations industry and helping it build bridges to the rest of the world.
Japan Consultancy of the Year: PRAP
Many industry observers believe PRAP to be the second or third largest public relations firm in all of the Asia-Pacific region, lagging only Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide—with which it enjoys a strategic partnership— and Japanese rival Dentsu in fees, beating out multinational firms with a pan-regional presence despite the fact that it focuses more or less exclusively on the Japanese market. Today it has 230 employees in its Tokyo headquarters and in a Chinese subsidiary which works primarily with Japanese companies seeking to do business in China. That’s enough to generate billings of around 4.73 billion yen ($43 million) for the year ended August 2007, up about 12 percent over the previous year. PRAP was one of the first indigenous firms to offer public relations services to foreign multinationals operating in Japan, and today overseas companies represent close to 70 percent of the firm’s business—making PRAP arguably Japan’s most international public relations agency and putting it in a unique position to provide a bridge between the sometimes alarmingly different cultures of western companies and the Japanese market.
Korea Consultancy of the Year: Edelman
Before moving on to become managing director of Edelman’s Tokyo office, Robert Pickard built the firm’s Seoul office into a $6 million operation, one of the largest in the market and one of the largest in Edelman’s Asia-Pacific network. It’s not just the growth that’s impressive, but the way it was achieved, by focusing on high value, high margin services: issues and crisis management, corporate reputation, social responsibility and more. Now under the leadership of managing director Tyler Kim, the firm works for a host of blue-chip clientse consumer marketing (Microsoft Xbox), automotive (Kia Motors), aviation (Northwest Airlines), pharmaceutical (AstraZeneca), advanced technology (LG Philips LCD), and financial services sectors (Standard & Poor's).
South-East Asia Consultancy of the Year: Perception Management
Perception Management founder and president Millicent Danker is not only one of Malaysia’s most respected public relations practitioners, she is also one of the most familiar faces in Asian PR, with a track record of leadership including two terms on the board of the International Public Relations Association and senior roles the Public Relations Consultants Association Malaysia. Perception Management began life as a boutique providing strategic communications counsel and media relations but has evolved into a specialist in strategic stakeholder relations work. It has also expanded its influence significantly beyond the Malaysian market where it has its headquarters, positioning itself as an expert in culturally-sensitive emerging market public relations and establishing an office in London to coordinate international projects; an African hub in Zambia; and a representative office in India.