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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.
In an Italian market that has always been difficult for public relations firms—and has been more so since the economic crisis kicked in—My PR possesses a valuable skill: the ability to deliver impressive results for relatively modest investments. Founded in Milan in 1997, the is probably best known for its work in brand marketing and, and as a pioneer in digital and social—with social listening capabilities, an influencer identification process, and an emphasis on authentic, creative storytelling.
With a team of around 20 and fees of around €1.83m, My PR is certainly not the largest firm in the market, but it makes up for that with a track record of defying convention, eschewing the “press office” model of many local firms. That approach helped MyPR in three major pitches in 2015 — Google, YouTube and LG. The firm also launched a branded startup lab to serve the Vicenza region, and continues to play a strong thought leadership role in the market. It is the firm’s award-winng work, however, that probably stands out most, from the #4eversticky social media campaign on behalf of 3M’s Post-It notes to its efforts on behalf of financial services company Immobiliare.it — reflecting the returns from an in-house creative department that brings broad through-the-line expertise. — AS
MSLGroup Italia (Italy/Publicis Groupe)
With 70 people across offices in Milan and Rome, MSLGroup is the market leader among the multinational firms in Italy, with chief executive Daniela Canegallo recognizing the changes that are embroiling the PR industry earlier than most of her peers, and investing in the development of data and analytics and digital and social expertise. The development of new tools and techniques continued in 2015, with the introduction of two new proprietary products CATCH (Clear Access to Conversations (of) High Complexity) and SOFA (Social Forecasting Analysis). Colangelo has also built an impressive senior management team that includes head of consumer Giusi Viani, head of corporate and financial Alessandro Chiarmasso, head of strategy Germano Calvi, and new addition Sergio Imbonati, formerly of ecomunicare, who will lead corporate and crisis work.
Despite the challenging economic environment and increased competition from everyone from ad agencies to management consulting firms, MSL has continued to grow over the past four years, winning 90% of its pitches in 2015 including new work for Netflix (helping the company with its launch in the Italian market), Instagram, Costa Cruises, Swisse (P&G), Nesquik (Nestlé), Hyundai, Audible.com, and Allianz—an impressive haul of new clients joining a roster that includes Nestlé, SanPellegrino, British Airways, Artsana, Lockheed Martin, Kellogg’s and 3M. Other great work includes a couple of assignments in the automotive sector, helping Davia leverage its sponsorship of Serie A football team Udinese and working with Hyundai on an innovative partnership with Spotify. — PH
One of Italy's largest PR firms now has increasingly international ambitions. SEC, founded in 1989 by Fiorenzo Tagliabue, has acquired consultancies in Belgium (Cambre), Spain and Germany in recent years, as part of a strategy to diversify and grow beyond Italy's difficult economic conditions. That kind of thinking marks out Tagliabue as something of a unique character in Italy's communications market, but he is supported by a deep leadership team that includes co-founder Paola Ambrosino and new CEO Cesare Valli, who joined last year after a lengthy tenure with H+K Strategies.
SEC now employs more than 150 people in Italy across seven offices, accounting for around half of the group’s overall EMEA revenues of 26m Euros, which was 36% in 2015. The agency plans to list on London’s AIM markets and is eyeing further acquisition, a rarity among Italy’s mostly conservative PR firms.There is particular strength in corporate and financial, but SEC's scale ensures it has a broader set of capabilities than most of its peers, with a client list that features Accor, Auchan, Coca-Cola, Deutsche Bank, Lidl, Nielsen Research, Foreign Affairs Ministry, Italian Government, Terna, The Walt Disney Company and UniCredit Group. Key additions in over past 12 months, meanwhile, included AIFM (Associazione Italiana di Fisica Medica), Amplifon, Bla Bla Car, Frescobaldi, Ikea, LVMH, Moët Hennessy.Louis Vuitton, Medtronic, Nestlè Italia, Shell, Star, Unichips and San Carlo.
The best of SEC's work, furthermore, demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of modern reputation management. The firm handled all media for the Milan Expo, including crisis communication, for which it put together a diverse 57-strong team, and has also worked on sensitive assignments for Shell, Nestle and Star. —AS
Weber Shandwick (Italy/Greece/Interpublic Group)
Weber Shandwick has one of the strongest Italian operations of any multinational agency, with a team of more than 60 in Milan and Rome under the leadership of chief executive Furio Garbagnati—a 40-year veteran of the Italian market who has worked with clients including Bank of America, EDF Edison, Hewlett-Packard, JP Morgan, Lundbeck, Nespresso, SABMiller, and the Italian Institute of Technology and is a four-time chairman of the Italian PR association Assorel. But Weber Shandwick is the only major multinational to have maintained its own branded operation in Greece despite the economic crisis, and under the leadership of managing director Dimitris Michopoulos, who led communications for the Organizing Committee for the Mediterranean Games and advised the management of Greek gaming operator OPAP before joining the agency in 2014.
The Greek office may be small, but it is doing some extraordinarily creative work, including two SABRE-nominated campaigns: one, a classic use of experiential techniques to help Athinaika Theatra draw attention to its upcoming production of Scooby Doo & the Mystery of the Pyramid; the other a light-hearted crisis management campaign warning young Greeks that every time they spread false rumors about Nescafe—the victim of strange conspiracy theories—a little squirrel would die. — PH
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