Benelux PR Consultancies of the Year 2016 | Holmes Report
Charting the future of public relations

2016 Benelux PR Consultancies of the Year

Our 2016 EMEA PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 200 submissions and face-to-face meetings with the best PR firms across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Winners will receive their trophies at the EMEA SABRE Awards in Berlin on 25 May. Analysis of all Finalists across 20 categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or here.

Benelux PR Consultancy of the Year: Interel (Independent)

Interel is unique among Brussels-based agencies for a couple of reasons: first, while there are many multinational firms with offices in the European capital, Interel may be the only Brussels-based firm to have built its own international presence; and second, while there are public affairs and Belgian PR specialists in the market, only Interel operates successfully in both markets. The Belgian business—led by managing partner Baudouin Velge—has been challenging in recent years—the country is home to relatively few corporate headquarters, and the local market is small and economically depressed, but Interel has 24 people focused on the local market, generating fees of around €3 million (up 17% last year) and serving clients such as Beiersdorf, ING, Bridgestone, Morgan Stanley, Air Liquide, Sanofi, Gilead, Google and AXA, with new business from Banque du Luxembourg, Total, D’Ieteren (the exclusive importer of Volkswagen in Belgium).

Underscoring its expertise in crisis, the firm issued a white paper and video on “Recalls in the Digital Age,” while the firm also continues to grow its corporate reputation and public affairs work. The EU business, meanwhile, has expanded from traditional public affairs to incorporate a more integrated approach—traditional PR, corporate storytelling, digital and social work, content creation—a decision that fueled healthy 14 percent growth in 2015, which ended with the firm reporting €13.5 million in fees. Key clients include the Project Management Institute, Astellas, ISPO (the International Society of Prosthetics & Orthotics), IEEE (the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers), Expedia, Coca Cola and Beiersdorf, with new additions including Ecolab, 3M, Anbang, the European Copper Institute and General Mills. — PH

Finalists

Bex*communicatie (Independent)

When a Dutch clinic discovered last year that more than 300 cancer patients had received lower than necessary doses of radiation over the last decade—potentially increasing the risk of their cancer recurring—Bex*communicatie was on hand to advise a proactive communications strategy that combined expressions of apology and regret from the clinic’s management team combined with an authoritative independent third-party assessment of the situation—an approach that maintained patient numbers, avoided lawsuits, and exemplified the makes Bex such a strong partner for so many leading Dutch companies. Now in its 30th year, Noud Bex’s firm has enough experience in the crisis arena—the firm estimates it handles 75 crises a year—to handle the most delicate issues with confidence and candor while its own crisis handbook ensures a structured approach. Beyond the crisis realm, the firm has expertise in change management (led by chairman Monique Hendriks), corporate reputation management, executive training, and corporate storytelling. The firm works for a host of leading companies in the Dutch market, including Royal DSM, AbbVie, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ACE Europe, ASML, Unilever, Exxon Mobil, Glassdoor, Philips International, and Allen & Overy, generating fee income last year of €3.1 million. — PH


Coopr
(Independent)

It was only five years ago that Jody Koehler  and Jos Govaart spun Coopr (which was previously an online PR shop part of a larger Dutch agency) into an independent entity. Since then, the Rotterdam-based firm has grown from two people to 23 with a wide-ranging roster of clients that include Netflix (new), LinkedIn, Heinz (new), BMW, Groupon, Siemens, MTV, Warsteiner, WWE, Albert Heijn (new) and JBL.

In 2015, the team expanded from 11 to 21 people with revenues up 105%, despite facing a series of challenegs related to the availability of talent. Fee income is just shy of €2m — up from €963K in 2014. While the firm has established expertise in consumer and digital PR, in 2015 new clients came in from finance, tech and health. Also, last year Coopr acquired a creative agency that now functions as its in-house content hub Coopr Studio and it launched a digital marketing division. Notable work includes a stunt-based campaign for Coolblue, interactive videos for ledereenEHBO, a sandwich pop-up for De Ruijter and a massive digital glasses built for ZjeZuid. — AaS

FleishmanHillard (Omnicom Group)

Celebrating its 25th anniversary in the Brussels market this year, FleishmanHillard is one of the strongest multinationals in the European capital, with more than 70 people and revenues of around €12 million. One key differentiator is the firm’s leadership team. Regional director Caroline Wunnerlich has been with the firm since its second year (when it was still GPC) and provides a wealth of experience in advocacy, issues management and public affairs. Dan Baxter leads the firm’s work in the manufacturing sector and has been with FH for 18 years in offices on three continents; Donald Ricketts has 16 years of experience with the firm and leads its financial services practice; James Stevens joined in 2002 and has a background in energy and environmental policy. New additions in 2015 included Brett Kobie, head of digital, creative and social, who joined from MedTech Europe; Matt Hinde, who joined as senior VP from the UK Department of Energy & Climate Change; and Ray Pinto, who joined from Microsoft to head the tech team.

The firm has particular strength in financial services, from banking (Barclays, Credit Suisse, HSBC, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley), the investment community (BlackRock, Pimco), to credit rating agencies (Standard & Poor’s) and insurance (Aviva). New to the client roster last year are Sandoz in healthcare, Centrica in the energy sector, and technology clients the European Tech Alliance and DropBox. A highlight in 2015 was FleishmanHillard’s ongoing energy industry campaign GasNaturally, which the team took to COP 21 in Paris, drawing on the firm’s pioneering True IQ social real-time social media visualisation platform. — PH


LVT Group
(Independent)

Like many firms, LVT Group is looking to make paid, owned and earned integral to its overall business model. The firm’s unique structure involves specialist groups that each grow autonomously. 70% of its consultants are now Google certified to be savvier on the digital side. This model has led to 20% growth and a jump from 43 to 69 people across offices in Amsterdam, Bunnik and Brussels in 2015. LVT Group closed last year with €7.2m in turnover and is on the trajectory towards another 25% growth this year. The growth was driven by clients that include several multinational brands that are household names, but have requested not to be named. Tech continues to be its leading sector. CEO Charly Lammers van Toorenburg with MDs Karolien Hessels,  Stella Jansen, Marielle van der Zouwen and Simone Jansen also in management. — AaS