Global New PR Agencies of the Year 2017 | Holmes Report
Charting the future of public relations

2017 Global New PR Agencies of the Year

The 2017 Global PR Agencies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 400 submissions and face-to-face meetings with the best PR firms across North America, EMEA and Asia-Pacific.

Analysis of all of the Winners and Finalists across specialist categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or below. Winners were announced at the 2017 Global SABRE Awards, which took place at the PRovoke17 Global PR Summit in Miami on the evening of 25 October.

Winner — Vested (US/Independent)

Billed as a ‘new communications agency for a new financial industry’, Vested was founded in 2015 by CEO Dan Simon and president Binna Kim, who previously led the US offices of Cognito. During its first year of operation, the duo were joined by other ex-Cognito alumni, including COO Ishviene Arora and chief creative officer Ali Wells. The leadership team is rounded out by Kevin Trowbridge, a software consultant who serves as Vested’s chief technology officer.

Vested's spectacular growth (up 317% in 2016 to $3.5m) is underpinned by a commitment to understanding the transformation underway in the financial industry. As technology changes the way people think about financial services, Vested has focused on helping banks, asset managers and other institutions navigate this shift, resulting in significant assignments from Axioma, Backstop Solutions, Bloomberg, Carbon Trade Exchange, Elevate, Golub Capital, Investopedia, MoneyLion, PeerStreet and Xenomorph, along with new business from Clarity Money, D+H, Diebold Nixdorf, The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation, Misys, Oakam, Quantitative Brokers, Rockefeller & Co., SmartBiz Loans and WorldRemit.

Now numbering 16 staffers, Vested's approach reflects a willingness to embrace change. Like any new firm, Vested makes much of its model, which involves employee ownership, an unlimited vacation policy and a fresh perspective on an industry that is much-maligned. The agency has established an investment fund, Vested Ventures, that makes direct investments in startups, while Vested's chief economist sells economic and financial forecasting to clients. The firm also plans to enter the news publishing and events businesses soon. That disruptive mentality is also showcased in Vested's client work, notably the 'Business of Star Wars' effort for storied hedge fund Citadel. — AS


Finalists

ByDesign Communications (South Africa/Independent)

Kevin Welman’s 20-year career at FleishmanHillard helped establish the firm as one of the top consultancies in Africa. So his departure last year was keenly-watched, particularly when he re-emerged soon afterwards with a new consultancy called ByDesign Communications. Welman and co-founder Vanessa Baard might have thought that an easier life beckoned but they can probably throw those plans out of the window. Not only has ByDesign already landed a staggering 10 major clients since it launched, but the 8-month-old consultancy has also showcased the kind of boutique positioning that is the lifeblood of PR agency renewal in more mature markets. 

New business has included blue-chip companies such as Mercedes-Benz, SAP, Anglo American, Adidas and Coronation Fund Managers. The firm also showcases a progressive blend of content, public relations, digital strategy and crisis communication — signifying a relatively disruptive approach in a market that still thrives on media relations. Standout work includes supporting Anglo American’s education-focused projects, helping News24’s native digital project, working on SAP’s Africa Code Week and on Mercedes-Benz’s #EveryTerrain campaign. — AS

Redhill Communications (Singapore/Independent)

Before launching Redhill in September of 2015, Jacob Puthenparambil had held communications positions with Government of India’s Ministry for External Affairs, ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller in the Middle East, and the UN’s MUrgency global response network in San Francisco. Partner Surekha Yadav, meanwhile, has a background that spans software development and finance. Together, they bring a wealth of international and business experience to a new firm, which helps to explain how Redhill has grown from five people in 2015 to about 25 today.

Those people are spread across offices in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Colombo—giving Redhill good reach across South-East Asia—and serving a roster of about 20 clients, including seven of the region’s largest venture capital firms. The client roster includes Jungle Ventures, Wavemaker Partners, Venture Craft, SoCash, Zumata, BankersLab, RHL Ventures, and Vickers Venture.

The firm worked with Jungle Ventures to announce that the firm had successfully raised an initial $50 million for their first investment round of 2016, while respecting the insistence that some aspects that the company wished to keep confidential, generating good coverage without awkward questions. It also helped SOCash, a socialised cash payment system, persuade consumers that cash can still be king in a world focused on cashless transactions. — PH