Asia-Pacific Digital PR Consultancies of the Year 2016 | Holmes Report
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2016 Asia-Pacific Digital PR Consultancies of the Year

The 2016 Asia-Pacific PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 100 submissions and meetings with the best PR firms across the region. Consultancy of the Year winners are announced and honoured at the 2016 Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards, taking place on 28 September in Hong Kong. Analysis of all Finalists (and Winners from 29 September) can be accessed via the navigation menu or below:

Digital PR Consultancy of the Year: Edelman (Independent)

Edelman’s digital capabilities have always remained a notch above most of their rivals, and now account for around 14% of the firm’s revenues in Asia-Pacific, even if that number  is slightly misleading because that’s only the firm’s pure-play digital activity—the content creation, digital design, and community management work delivered by a specialist team.

The real story, instead, lies in the network’s fundamental restructuring of its operating structure to ensure that all aspects of digital — including those more readily associated with advertising agencies — are delivered across Asia-Pacific, a process that is aided by the added scale that its Middle East and Africa operations bring. Edelman has invested significant sums in this initiative, across such areas as search engine marketing, social media optimisation and measurement/analytics, building centralised hubs that features skills and talent that each of its markets can tap into on a local basis.

Accordingly, there have been numerous digital hires and appointments under the leadership of digital president Gavin Coombes, including Stuart Edwards as regional digital COO and Andrew Ryder as to oversee digital strategy in North Asia. In Japan the firm has upped its digital capabilities considerably, bringing in Geoff Dossor as digital CD and Masaki Gunnarson to lead digital, paid and analytics, joining a digital leadership team that also includes Kim Hoang in Southeast Asia, Kunal Arora in India, Janet Dai in China and Andy Lee in Korea.

Edelman APACMEA CEO David Brain believes the investments and restructuring will help his firm expand their “addressable market”, beyond typical PR assignments into the kind of consumer and branding work that more often goes to ad agencies. Already, there are signs that this is happening, with digital driving growth across all local markets, Singapore and Korea in particular. There has also been eye-catching work for Asics Japan,  Airbnb across China, APEC and Tata Tea Fusion. — AS


Finalists


Good Idea (Independent)

A relatively new player in Asia, Good Idea was established in 2012 to connect brands with young consumers in China, primarily through social media. The firm not only promotes brands and products, it provides input around design to maximize popularity on social channels.

Revenues are up to 32m RMB as a result 30% YOY growth. This can be credited to clients like Coca-Cola, Dolby, iRobot, Lenovo, Baidu and Tencent among others. Like many firms in Asia, recruiting and retaining the brightest talent is among its top challenges that Good Idea tackles by providing partnership to its key employees.

The firm is looking to grow in entertainment and media, including connecting celebrities with their fan communities via social media. Notable work includes CSR assignments for Coca-Cola, among others. — AaS

MSLGroup (Publicis Groupe)

MSL has had another truly impressive year in Asia—revenue up by 17 percent in 2015 and on track for equally impressive growth in 2016—and the firm’s burgeoning digital capabilities have been at the heart of it, with digital revenue up by 35% last year. The agency’s i3 methodology starts with insight (there has been a significant investment in data and analytics), proceeds through integration (which means engaging consumers and other stakeholders through a wide range of digital and social content and non-traditional channels), and ends with impact.
 
The approach has helped to attract an impressive list of cutting edge, disruptive clients: Netflix, Uber, Airbnb, Alibaba Group, Tencent, WhatsApp, Xiaomi, Google. And it has spawned some terrific work, from IKEA’s “Cook with Love” campaign in China, which generated a ton of filmed content to the social media sensation that accompanied the launch of Netflix in more than 40 Asia markets.
 
Under the leadership of Narendra Nag, the digital and social practice has continued to add talent. New hires include research veterans Aruna Hanidique and Irine Ling, who manage 3i Centers of Excellence in India and China respectively; Mark Liew, digital creative director in China; Ringo Yang, head of digital marketing, China; and Sei Naganuma, digital consultant in Japan.
 
The latest innovation is a new platform—Conversation2Commerce—that “harnesses the power of influence to drive brand lift and commerce.” C2C draws upon the integration of paid, owned and shopper media to add scale, measurability and targeting to the firm’s earned media coverage and helps turn conversations into commercial success. — PH


Text100 (Next15)

Text100’s 35-year technology heritage has always ensured that it is more comfortable with digital than most. And Asia might well count as its most advanced digital region, thanks in part to the firm’s deep roots in such markets as India, Australia, Southeast Asia and Greater China. The merger with sibling firm Bite Communications has also played a pivotal role in this regard, bringing in specialist capabilities in digital CRM, marketing and ecommerce, via a series of acquisitions made over the past decade.

Overall revenues grew 10% to $18.3m in 2015, with half of Text100’s revenues now coming from non-media relations work. In particular, the firm has invested considerable resources into hiring digital talent, from designers and developers to content marketers and data/SEO analysts. Each of the firm’s offices now offers in-house digital capabilities, aided by global products such as content platform Newsroom, influence engagement tool One Touch Social and Content Plus, which helps boost editorial strategy and SEO.

Examples of Text100’s digital capabilities comes from its strategic partnership with LinkedIn in Singapore; from innovative WeChat work for VMware China’s R&D Centre; and, from numerous campaigns that have caught the attention of SABRE judges in recent years, for such clients as Lenovo and IBM. There has also been new business from TVS India, William Grant & Sons, Netsuite, Fox International Networks, Pioneer, Bosch, Malaysian Aviation Commission, Meltwater, German Tourism Board, and the Internet of Things Group. Further investment in digital is expected, furthermore, following the arrival of Lee Nugent to oversee product development and transformation. — AS


Zeno (Daniel J Edelman Holdings)

Since launching its Asia-Pacific operations in 2012, Zeno has grown steadily to reach around $7.85m in fee income, with 120 staffers driving growth of 45% in its last fiscal year. Much of that growth can be attributed to a positioning that favours Zeno’s digital marketing capabilities — Asia CEO John Kerr also doubling as the firm’s global digital head — and a focus on digital storytelling and influencer engagement.

Zeno has always had a particular affinity for Asia’s technology sector, with a client roster that includes Motorola, Intel, YouTube, Avanade, Lenovo and Baidu. But the firm’s work across complex digital assignments is as relevant for its consumer clients, which now include Nestle, P&G and Nike. Singapore and Malaysia, in particular, are at the cutting-edge of this trend, featuring social media command centres, content remarketing skills and a broad range of digital and social talent.

The agency’s digital work bears this all out. For Moto G’s Gen 3 smartphone launch in India, the agency devised the integrated #MyMotoBFF campaign that involved social media, bloggers and video content — driving sales of 1m units and generating four trending hashtags. For Intel, meanwhile, the firm developed the company’s regional digital hub in Singapore, with technology utilised to analyse web data across all platforms and translate these into actionable insights. — AS