Russia is an emerging power on the PR stage, with the country’s PR trade association regularly recording annual industry growth rates of more than 20 percent. Bearing this expansion in mind, it should have surprised few to find Russian agency AGT make its debut appearance on The Holmes Report Global Rankings 2010, which lists the biggest PR agencies in the world.
Since its launch in 1996, AGT has taken full advantage of the commercial opportunities afforded by Russia’s rapidly liberalising economies to the point where, today, it is worth almost $20 million in fee income. That number may represent a slight drop on its 2008 income, but AGT remains well placed to prosper from Russia’s emergence from the economic wilderness.
The firm’s basic ethos is based around the concept of a strong corporate communications architecture. In 2006 it consolidated eight different companies - covering such areas as traditional PR, digital comms and advertising—under the single AGT brand, but is continues to offer its clients specialty services in each of the eight areas, including a ninth— information analysis - that was launched in 2010. AGT also benefits from a more developed geographic network than many of its rivals. It is the only Russian agency with a chain of representative offices in all federal districts, as well as Kazakhstan and Belarus.
AGT is headed by board chairperson and political veteran Vyacheslav Leshchinsky, who previously worked for Russian Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin. Leshchinsky was also a member of the Constitution Council for development of the draft Constitution of the Russian Federation.
Rapid growth slowed somewhat in 2009 as the economic downturn hit Russia hard. Regardless, AGT consolidated its position as one of the country’s top-three Government PR contractors, according to Vizantia Research Group. In 2009, the agency also reconsidered its management structure, merging a few companies and holding good to a commitment to not fire a single employee. Profits remained strong, and AGT believes it has emerged from the downturn stronger than when it entered it.
Major clients include a number of federal ministries, along with large Russian and foreign companies in such fields as telecommunications, oil production, energy, banking and media. Since late 2º009, the agency has been working with major oil company Bashneft, and also counts energy giant Mosenergo as a key client. Other major accounts include TV3, chemical company Phosagro, the Federal Network (Energy) Company and Nobel Oil. AGT also represents a string of foreign companies, such as Nokia, 3M Russia and Bayer AG. Its formidable public sector practice, meanwhile, handled big-budget projects this year for the Ministry of Education & Science, and the Ministry of Health & Social Development.
A number of AGT’s projects over the past 12 months were, by their very nature, high-profile - often involving major communications campaigns on behalf of federal authorities. For the Ministry of Health and Social Development, the agency handled a programme to promote voluntary blood donation in 54 Russian regions, the third year it has deployed the campaign, resulting in a 30 percent increase in donor levels. That campaign used AGT’s geographic network to good effect, as did “100% Transparency” initiative for 3M Russia, which attempts to improve pedestrian safety at night in eight Russian regions - using interactive contests, digital projects, events and education components.
“AGT and its team never tire of proving their proficiency in organizing and holding of top-level publicity campaigns using advanced communication tools,” says Nokia Eurasia PR manager V.V. Eremina. “The Agency renders such services as mass media analytics and monitoring, cooperation with mass media, event management, development of a communication strategy, and organization of special events.”—AS