Stephen Waddington and Steve Earl founded Rainier PR in 1998 after working as account directors for two of the world’s largest technology PR companies, Brodeur Worldwide and Weber Shandwick. As the firm has grown, it has tended to attract people from a similar background: refugees from larger firms who would rather deal with clients and reporters than hierarchy and bureaucracy. At Rainier, which was voted number one in our 2005 Best Consultancies to Work For study, they find what they are looking for, including a profit-sharing plan that extends to the eight senior people at the firm. Rainier is “a great place to start off my career, I feel I am being trained to very high standards,” says one respondent. “I came here intending to stay for 18 months; my stint is now more than four years and I have no intention of leaving any time soon,” says another, who praises the “non-hierarchical and open” culture. Adds another: “Management treat us as if it is our firm rather than their firm.”
Rainier’s people are all seasoned veterans, and all hands-on, which pays off for clients who find themselves working with a team of account directors experienced as counsellors and in dealing with high-level media—national and international press as well as key trade publications. That helps the firm deliver on its “headlines first” approach to media relations, whereby account leaders agree with clients in advance what headlines they would like to see in what titles—and then deliver them. The firm is also noted for its ability to generate opportunistic stories, using a client bulletin service (in blog format) to notify clients when opportunities arise, and for its focus on lead generation.
Revenue in 2004 was around £1.35 million, up about 20 percent, and the firm is on track for further 25 percent growth in 2004, thanks to a combination of healthy organic growth, the acquisition of fellow tech specialist Lighthouse PR (along with its senior executives Sean Gough and Uday Radia), and the launch of a new consumer agency, Custard PR, led by former Porter Novelli exec Paul Naphteli and Rainier veterans Gareth Davies and Zuzanna Pasierbinska and focused on the consumer tech market. Custard wins included Six Apart, Digimpro and 7 Digital and the unit also donated its time to promote the Internet launch of Band Aid 20’s Christmas number one, “Do they know it’s Christmas?” The lead brand, meanwhile, added technology clients such as the PAL Group Hydra Supercomputer (for a man-versus-machine chess tournament that generated massive mainstream media interest), Mercury, and Telewest Business.
When it comes to international assignments, the firm has its own list of affiliates, RainierNet, which includes 15 partners in most of Europe’s major markets as well as the U.S., Japan, Australia, and South Africa.