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Part of the new generation of Asian PR firms that launched around five years ago, In.Fom has benefited considerably from its leaders’ mix of local market insight and big agency credibility. Managing partners Wong Voal Voal and Mike Liew both count impressive agency pedigrees with H+K and Burson-Marsteller, respectively, and have put that experience to good use by building a firm that has flourished amid the transformation of marketing and technology, helping it land Technology Consultancy of the Year honours last year. In addition to Wong and Liew, the firm also counts senior leadership from Xiuwen Lien, who heads its key Microsoft relationship.
Like many big agency veterans who launch their own firms, Wong and Liew have eschewed scale and bureaucracy for an approach that prizes quality, longevity and talent management. The model appears to be paying off; In.Fom now numbers 17 employees, and billings increased 35% in 2015 to US$2.1m, with the firm expecting 25% expansion this year too. The firm’s client roster demonstrates its ability to prevail over bigger rivals, including continued expansion of its regional mandates for Microsoft and Herbalife, along with new business (much of it multi-market) from UnionPay, Janssen, Nokia, Intralinks, Marina Bay Sands, Singtel and ST Engineering, all of which join a client roster that also features Intel and CA Technologies.
IN.FOM’s work continues to stand out, helping the agency land fourth spot on last year’s Global Creative Index. There was impressive thought leadership for Microsoft’s Office 365, including integrated work that surveyed 13 Asian markets on how digital is disrupting the world of work. — AS
In the US, Cohn & Wolfe is best known for its work in the consumer and healthcare spaces (though its technology capabilities are far from unimpressive). In Asia, however, technology has always been at least an equal partner to those two, and two events over the past 18 months—the appointment of Lyle Closs from C&W technology subsidiary AxiCom as chief operating officer for the region and the acquisition of India’s Six Degrees—suggest that tech has an even more exciting role to play in Asia going forward.
It’s not uncommon for PR practitioners to refer to themselves as business consultants first, meaning their communications counsel maps back to business objectives. But in the case of PRecious, the firm takes its role as business consultants so seriously that it will, on occasion, even recommend a company doesn’t engage a PR firm at all.pr
Sling & Stone has bottled the ethos of challengers, disrupters and entrepreneurs and molded this into a refreshing PR approach. Their formula calls for beautiful work, curiosity, hustle and the blend of art and science. Given its emphasis on culture, the Sydney-based firm has made it a point to be transparent about its inner workings and overall culture. The goal, ultimately, is to attract prospects looking “to do the best work of their careers.”
In the financial year ending June 30, revenues are up 64% as the six-year-old agency grows into a midsize firm with multimillion-dollar revenues and 25 people. Key clients include Autodesk, Xero, Koala and MailGuard among others. The firm boasts that 37 out of its 39 retained clients were secured via referrals, word-of-mouth or other inbound leads. And part of retaining its culture is saying no — in fact, Sling & Stone have passed on 72 prospects this year so far.
The work includes a campaign for Xero that yielded 471 pieces of coverage in six months and garnering more than 500 media features for DesignCrowd’s Guerilla Design campaign (the work also resulted in increased web metrics for the client). — AaS
Text100’s 35-year technology heritage has always given it an edge on many of its rivals, particularly as technology continues to disrupt industries and economies and play a more central role in all of our lives. That attitude is readily apparent in Asia, where the firm’s deep roots in such markets as India, Australia, Southeast Asia and Greater China have ensured that it is among the biggest technology players in the region. 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 profits up 52% to $3.6m, and headcount up to 322 across the region. Of note, 50% of the firm’s revenue now comes from non-media relations work, and 48% from non-technology work, but all of it reflects the way that technology now infuses many aspects of corporate, B2B and consumer PR. Key technology clients include Lenovo, IBM, DHL, Telenor, Swift and Snapdeal, with new business over the past 12 months 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.
In particular, the firm has invested considerable resources into talent and training, ensuring there are in-house digital capabilities in each of its offices, 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.
And there is plenty of innovative work. ‘The Day of STEM’ saw Text100 work with Australian government agencies to promote the uptake of much-needed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills amongst young Australians, while an eye-catching WeChat campaign for VMware China’s R&D Centre drove stellar results. — AS
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