Global New PR Agencies of the Year | Holmes Report
Charting the future of public relations

2015 Global New PR Agencies of the Year

Our 2015 Global PR Agencies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 400 submissions and face-to-face meetings with the best PR firms across North America, EMEA and Asia-Pacific.

Analysis of all agencies in each category can be accessed via the navigation menu or here. Winners are announced at the 2015 Global SABRE Awards, taking place at the Global PR Summit in Miami on the evening of 28th October​.

Winner — SPAG Asia (India)

An impressive newcomer, SPAG Asia has carved out a niche for itself in two areas that are under-served in the region: focusing on clients in the healthcare sector (and the pharmaceutical space in particular) and offering an impressive expertise in public affairs. The firm has two things that are necessary to cut through the clutter in a highly-competitive environment: a distinctive point-of-view grounded in its “be real” value statement, and an intellectual approach that begins with its research-driven IDEA (Influencer Driven Engagement Approach) methodology.

The firm has also introduced a new C-Plan offering, a suite of crisis management services. All of this helped SPAG expand quickly—it now has offices in New Delhi, Mumbai, Singapore, and Washington, DC, after just two years, with fee income of $1.5 million. The firm has picked up business from the US Chambers of Commerce (a mandate expanded from India to include Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia); PhRMA; Gilead Sciences (another multi-market assignment); the Partnership to Fight Chronic Diseases; and IKEA Foundation. Interesting work has included building awareness of the “value of IP” for the US Chambers, and ensuring that non-communicable diseases were a priority in Indian health policy for the Partnership to Fight Chronic Diseases.—PH


Finalists

Battenhall (UK)

There’s a simple formula that’s oft neglected in PR: build a strong culture, attract top-notch talent and do great work. Many of the newer agencies coming onto the market seem built around staying true to that philosophy.

Among them is Battenhall. Founder Drew Benvie — former CEO of Hotwire UK — launched Battenhall 28 months ago with the plan to “turn the PR agency model upside down.” In two years, Battenhall’s team of 33 people have built an impressive roster of clients that include: Pearson, PwC, Iceland, English Heritage, Newsweek, Salma Hayek, Hotels.com, Microsoft, Regus, Freeview and Telefonica, all serviced from its sole office in London. Revenues jumped a dramatic 134% to £853,259 (against a £500k target) in 2014 — with revenues projected to hit £2m this year.

Battenhall has also been featured in the Financial Times for its work culture, alongside Red Bull and Google. Among its perks: 20% of work time is saved for non-billable side projects as a way to make sure the agency is staying ahead of the game — and passing that know-how onto clients. Each week, team members present what they’ve been working on. Another perk, each team member — at all levels — is allocated £1,200 to invest in a start-up.

The Battenhall team has also developed IP to modernize the business. Newsjacker is a tool that takes a curated view of a client’s daily news agenda and triggers alerts for the client and team; Influencer Log is that allows team members to log new press and social media influencers, populating Battenhall’s bespoke and own-built influencer database; and Boom Labs is an ideas engine, where staff members with ideas can share them with the team.

Notable work includes, the Social Casino Experiment to generate social awareness for the Empire Casino on Leicester Square. This included a competition for one person to win a free day of gambling at the casino with one catch: every bet had to be decided by social media. Battenhall also worked with the Financial Times to build and launch a social media site to promote the FT Weekend. The campaign, My FT Weekend, asked readers about their perfect weekend and the winner had their dream made into reality.— AaS


Djembe Communications
(Africa & Middle East)

Named after the West African drum, Djembe is one of the best of the new generation of African PR firms, combining high-level strategic consultancy with a rigourous understanding of local market conditions across the continent.

Dubai-based managing director Mitchell Prather previously led Grayling's and Golin's operations in the region and also worked as a senior manager at Mubadala Development Company, giving him plenty of experience of the region's key markets. Prather is supported by regional director Nicole Anwer, and together the duo oversee a firm that has grown to 20 people in just over two years, already reporting $4m in fee income across Dubai, Luanda, Lagos, London, Maputo, New York and Zurich.

Djembe's positioning, which focuses on reputation management and local insight, has proved popular, particularly with Angolan government vehicles that require a more sophisticated public relations approach. Key clients include the country's Sovereign Wealth Fund; its Venture Capital Fund; the country's first investment bank; the Porto de Caio port project; and the Academia de Gestão Hoteleira Angolana hospitality academy. Beyond Angola, there is business from Tomé International and Uniqua Consulting. —AS


Praytell
(US)

Praytell stood out amongst a field of promising new agencies for its remarkable growth and groundbreaking work that shows Praytell is leading the way in what’s next in PR.

Started in 2013, founder Andy Pray set out to build an agency of the future around: creativity, social media, storytelling and media relations. Two years in, total revenue is more than $3.25 million (up 217%) with most of its 22-person team in its loft-style digs in Brooklyn.

Pray spent most of his career at Ruder Finn before breaking out on his own and building a client portfolio that includes: About.com, Logitech, Hyatt, Estee Lauder Companies and MAC Cosmetics among others. Managing partner Claudio Taratuta hails from an advertising background and Beth Cleveland has entrepreneurial roots of her own.

Under their leadership, the body of work is impressive. For MAC Cosmetics and MAC AIDS Fund, Praytell was asked to make young people notice — and take action — around an epidemic they had grown wary of hearing about. Praytell’s solution demonstrates its ‘new agency’ thinking: the team made a movie. Praytell concepted, casted, produced, licensed and publicized a feature-length documentary, It’s Not Over, working with Netflix.

Las Vegas has seen its fair share of marketing campaigns, so Praytell had to be exceptionally clever when asked to drive excitement around a brand partnership between Hyatt and MGM for the Make Vegas Yours initiative. Praytell integrated promotional content amid breathtaking editorial that showcased real-time social updates, colorful user-generated imagery and among other creative content. Robust SEO, thoughtful social media strategy and highly targeted paid promotion helped drive significant revenue for Hyatt.

The agency has also built a culture the creative class wants to work for and with. For instance, through its Passion Projects initiative in which Praytell gives away its services for free to causes its employees care about. The first full cycle of the Passion Project included three organizations and the next enrollment period opens this summer. 

This year, Praytell is tracking towards $4.5m in revenues, proving it’s a standout among a sea of new agencies looking break the old agency mold. — AaS