Business-to-business PR firm focused on graphic arts sector
AD Communications demonstrates just how successful a public relations consultancy can be by singling out a specific niche in the market—even a niche that appears prohibitively narrow—and serving that niche with relentless focus and deep sector-specific expertise. Richard Allen’s firm concentrates on a single business-to-business market, and has set about becoming the undisputed leader in its category, providing media relations support to companies in the graphic arts, imaging, and digital document production businesses.
The firm has since expanded beyond media relations to offer a more integrated approach that also includes media planning and buying and occasional below-the-line promotion activities (it often works closely with creative agencies to produce through-the-line campaigns), but it has maintained its focus on a single market, and it takes its thought leadership in that market seriously, hosting round-tables, focus groups and seminars, and authoring think pieces for vertical media. Its AD Media Week programme, meanwhile, brings together more than a dozen leading vendors for a two-week conference—attracting more than 100 media—every two years.
The firm employs 16 executive staff and generated close to £1.7 million in fee income last year, ranking among the top 20 independent technology PR firms in the U.K. Growth was in the mid single digits, with new business from Kodak Polychrome Graphics, X-Rite, ColourLink, JJays, Domino Printing Sciences, and the British Association of Print Communications. They join a client list that includes many of the industry’s biggest names, including some—Dupio International, Electronics for Imaging, St. Ives, Hasselblad, Artwork Systems—who have been with the firm for five years or more.
A highlight of the past year was the firm’s work for FESPA, the largest global event for the screen/digital and large format industries. AD handled PR on a global level—more than 80 percent of its work has an international dimension—providing media outreach for the show itself and PR support for participating exhibitors, and generating 25,000 pre-registered visitors as well as helping increase the number of exhibitors from 350 to 520. The firm also helped client Kodak Polychrome Graphics pick up two Magellan Awards in the U.S. for business-to-business PR success.
Allen, who held a variety of sales positions with Haymarket Business Publications before forming ADC, has been named by Print Week magazine as one of the most influential people in the British graphic arts industry. In 2005, the firm was acquired via an MBO by minority shareholders Helen Tolino, who joined in 1993 (also from Haymarket) to develop the firm’s media services offering, and Shireen Shurmer, a 10-year veteran.