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Our 2017 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.
The firm formerly known as Hallvarsson & Halvarsson had established itself as the Nordic region’s most formidable financial communications specialist before it was sold to Sage Holdings in 2009. It spent the next five years in a kind of purgatory before senior executives Martin Petersson, Anders Halvarsson, Johan Ramsten and Staffan Lindgren bought the business back in 2014—but in the two years since then the businesses now known as H&H Group have expanded at a very healthy pace, reclaiming their place of prominence in the financial space while diversifying their portfolio—most notably with the February 2016 acquisition of Swedish creative powerhouse Jung Relations.
That deal was the most significant manifestation of a philosophy that aims to see H&H become a home for entrepreneurs, who will be allowed to maintain the spirit that build their firms while benefiting from the support of a larger holding companies. There are six firms in the family right now—including digital specialist Comprend and corporate film company Creo—and H&H leadership believes it can add two or three new firms each year, and expand beyond the Nordic region. Group fees grew by a very impressive 35% in constant currency terms last year, and ended with fees of $33 million, enough to rank among the top 60 PR firms in the world.
The firm works for a number of Sweden’s largest companies, including Ericsson, SEB Bank, Volvo Cars, and Scania, as well as for international brands like Adidas. While H&H tends to keep its client work confidential, Jung scored a couple of SABRE nominations for its work helping state-owned gambling company Svenska Spel integrate immigrants into Swedish society via participation in sports, and launching a new car for Volvo sister company Lynk & Co. — PH
Diplomat Group (Sweden/Independent)
Diplomat Group has a strong heritage in public affairs—a critical part of the Swedish PR business, due to a highly-engaged citizenry—helping clients understand the values, attitudes and politics of Sweden’s opinion leaders. But the group has expanded in new directions recently. The core Diplomat Communications maintains its public affairs focus, with offices in the other Nordic capitals and in Brussels, and has expanded into broader corporate communications, and some financial work.
That core has been supplemented in recent years by two additional units: YouMe Agency is focused on brand-building, with strong visual capabilities; Repeat Studios, launched in 2016, is a digital and social media specialist. The three brands often work in concert to deliver comprehensive communications solutions to clients—although the firm does not disclose client names as a matter of policy.
The firm is distinguished by its strong senior leadership team, including founding partners Gunnar Rune Sonesson, Björn Nyblom, and Anders Oremark; and group CEO Oscar Hyléen, former head of IR at PostNord. Joakim Svensson and Fredrik Malm joined from MassCreation in 2016 to help launch Repeat Studios, and Ingvar Skeberg, former deputy CEO and director of the insurance offer at AMF Pension and group market director at Swedbank, joined the firm as a senior advisor. — PH
Geelmuyden Kiese (Norway/Independent)
Over the past few years, Geelmuyden Kiese has transformed itself from a well-established but slightly stodgy firm best known for its corporate affairs and issues management work into one of the most creative full-service PR agencies in continental Europe, developing integrated campaigns for a wide range of corporate, public sector and nonprofit clients.
After picking up a couple of SABRE Awards in 2016—for work on behalf of disruptive funeral home business Fonus and veterinary care association Svensk Djursjukvård—the firm has already earned three In2 SABREs this year: a digital advertising campaign for Norwegian recycling company Infinitum; an online campaign pitting a computer game-playing “Nerd Against Nature” for The Norwegian Trekking Association; and a branding campaign for property company Aker Brygge. Other highlights include an international road safety education campaign for Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority; marketing efforts for Avinor Oslo Airport; outreach to LGBT travelers for Flytoget; and a cause-related campaign focused on refugees for professional services firm Hero Norway—all nominated for awards in this year’s competition.
The firm’s impressive work has been related with steady growth in recent years. Fee income was up by close to 10% last year, and Geelmuyden Kiese Group ended the year with revenues of around €26 million and 15o people working across offices in Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Brussels. The client list includes Avinor Oslo International Airport, MasterCard, Google, the Norwegian Seafood Council, Infinitum, IKEA, Scandic, Kiwi, Flytoget, Copenhagen Airport, Google Danmark, Rosendahl Design Group, Danish Horticulture, L’Oreal, and Top Toy. — PH
Iteo Consulting (Norway/Independent)
Within just a short window of six years, Iteo has cultivated an impressive culture of client and talent loyalty. Not only that, the firm transformed from one that specializes in earned media, then owned and has now emerged as full-scale digital player.
In 2016 the agency became certified on Google, Facebook, HubSpot and inbound marketing — and now considers itself “probably the most digital communications provider in our region.” Revenues jumped 40% to $2.1m in 2016 with 15 people. Clients include Panasonic, Dell, Intel, NTT, Emirates, Philips (lighting), DNV GL, NEC, Icopal, SAP that were joined by new additions Microsoft, Dell EMC (won repitch), Securitas, Formuesforvaltning, Bosch Siemens, Viacom, Hello (telco), plus some highly recognized local brands.
Country Manager of Emirates Norway, Terje Grue says "I have never before had the pleasure of working with an agency of this caliber. Their constant focus on their targets and tasked duties, completed with advisory and a full-fledged 360 degree angle to each step, leaves me with a very high reassurance of their work.”
Founder Andreas Thue is the former managing director Nordics for Text 100 who manages alongside senior partner Tina Tharaldsen. — AaS
Narva—named after the Swedish army victory over a Russian force three times its size—has always embraced its positioning as a challenger brand initially within the financial communications space (from investor relations to IPOs and other transactions to annual and sustainability reporting) and more recently in the broader media relations, public affairs and CSR space (via the 2015 acquisition of consultancy Rewise)—and in the healthcare arena, where the firm bought Mix PR in 2012 and Heart three years later, and in early 2016 hired former social affairs minister Göran Hägglund as a senior advisor.
Under the leadership of managing partners Daniel Bergsten and Johan Molander, Narva remains one of the fastest-growing in the Swedish market, with fee income up 10% in constant currency terms to around $6.6 million. The growth was generated by new assignments from Scandinavian Airlines, Fujitsu, Bausch+Lomb, Sandvik, Allianz, and T Rowe Price, joining an existing roster that includes Telia Company, Air France, KLM, and Deutsche Asset Management.
Maintaining its tradition of innovation, the firm published a white paper on social media in the healthcare sector, and handled high-profile campaigns for the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation (#SwabForLife) and produced an award-winning annual report for The Swedish Red Cross. It also added talent, including Olle Axelsson, former communications director at Coop, as senior advisor, and Jimmy Larsson, former digital specialist for SSU, the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League, to strengthen its digital capabilities. — PH
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