Global Technology PR Agencies of the Year 2017 | Holmes Report
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2017 Global Technology 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 — Harvard (Europe/Chime)

EMEA Technology Consultancy of the Year for two consecutive years now, Harvard submitted another standout year in 2016, ensuring that memories of its 2011 nadir (when the UK’s oldest specialist tech consultancy was down to 14 people and £1.6m in revenue) are firmly in the rearview mirror. Indeed, Louie St Claire and his leadership team (Ellie Bennett, Pete Marcus, Phil Szomszor and Gareth Clark) have revolutionised the firm to the extent that 29% growth to £4m is now seen as business as usual. Of course, Harvard’s business today certainly cannot count as commonplace among its tech rivals, having chosen to restructure its offering last year from a position of strength, creating three core division (PR/AR, digital engagement and marketing) that underscore its diversification across the full spectrum of technology marketing budgets, supplemented by a credible planning capability, along with demand generation, account based marketing and sales enablement capabilities, with the marketing services practice growing from 4 to 18 people.

New business remained in fine fettle, with the firm adding such clients as Propel/Disney, Lloyd's of London, Linn, Dun & Bradstreet, Azimo, Hired, Stuart, Mimecast, Habito to join an existing client roster that features Fujitsu, Ricoh, Vodafone Cisco, Arbor Networks, Sennheiser, Digital Catapult, Lycamobile, Salmon and Zappar

The firm's work reflects an impressive focus on integration, via a full-service offering that extends beyond PR and digital into such areas as advertising and direct marketing, all centred on the idea of being audience engagement experts for the technology sector. There was impressive campaign work Fujitsu (‘A New Pace of Change’); Salmon (‘Black Friday’); Azimo (#BetterThanThat); Lloyds and Propel. The firm’s workplace initiatives also merit a mention, including roles-specific forums and new training programmes. — AS


Finalists

Bateman Group (US/Independent)

There was a time when the Bateman Group was looked on as a challenger brand in Silicon Valley — a scrappy upstart with a passionate founder. Over the last decade, the Bateman Group  has become a steady PR force that consistently delivers on respectable growth and noteworthy work. This continued into 2016 when the firm hit 21% growth reaching $10.5m, shedding the “boutique” qualifier.

The creativity of its thinking was demonstrated in its work for security startup Area 1 that resulted, not only two feature stories in the New York Times, but also a request from a Hollywood production house for the rights to buy the story. When Hollywood notices, you’ve probably crafted a very good narrative. Other clients include Google, LinkedIn, L’Oreal, Betterment, Ultimate Software, Virtustream, QuickBase, Tegile, Relay Networks and Atlassian.

Interestingly, in 2016 Bateman split its enterprise practice in two: the Future of Work (products that touch on workplace productivity and collaboration) and the New Stack (products that make data processes and center more efficient) to give clarity and focus to its domain expertise.

The firm also actively advocates for the industry to back away from the antiquated relationship, press release and persistence trifecta to yield media coverage — and in doing so has taken on the challenge of educating executives on the realities of the new media environment. Bateman also added an Innovation Lab practice this year, which includes clients with truly disruptive technologies like Ginkgo Bioworks, a startup that designs custom microbes across multiple markets to develop new organisms that replace technology with biology .

CEO & founder Fred Bateman continues to helm the firm with support from partner/president Bill Bourdon, partner/GM Tyler Perry and EVP Syreeta Mussante. New hires include former IDG News Service journalist James Niccolai as content and media strategy director adding to the 53 full-time employees across offices in San Francisco and New York. — AaS  

Brands2Life (UK/Independent)

After three consecutive years as EMEA Technology Consultancy of the Year, Brands2Life secured its status as one of the decade's defining UK agencies by being named UK Consultancy of the Year in 2016, recognition of how the 130-person agency has demonstrated a singular ability to evolve with the times. As comfortable handing B2B tech PR as it is with straight consumer or C-suite corporate counsel, Brands2Life is today bolstered by an an impressive digital capability and a staff culture that remains one of the best in the country, with founders Giles Fraser and Sarah Scales bringing the kind of restless, slightly paranoid leadership that often characterises the better PR consultancies.

Launched in 2000 and still fiercely independent, Brands2Life's momentum showed few signs of slowing down in 2016, even if growth tapered off after four record-breaking years to 1.2%, reaching £11.7m thanks to work that is increasingly integrated, supported by sustained investment in digital/social, paid media and content development, along with the firm's first international office launch in San Francisco.

Two-thirds of Brands2Life’s business still comes from the technology sector, reflecting a mindset that has helped the agency diversify and grow as technology becomes a critical component of every industry. In addition to a decent consumer practice that features such clients as Gatwick Airport, Appletiser, Virgin Media and Match, there has also been expansion into property & construction, destinations & travel, industrials and professional services, and recent wins have been as diverse as Carpetright, Rydon Homes & Tottenham Hotspur. Meanwhile, the group's technology capabilities remain in fine fettle, evidenced by new business from Dell, Experis and Emarsys, along with existing clients like Vmware, LinkedIn, Nikon, Gemalto, Intuit and USwitch.

The firm's ability to back its vision with investment continues to give it an edge over rivals, illustrated best by a string of senior hires in the digital and content space, notably head of digital Alan Parker from MullenLowe. That also pays off in the work Brands2Life does, which has has always demonstrated a creative verve in a market that sets the bar high. Last year, that included the #AccountsDone campaign for Intuit QuickBooks, which stretched beyond the bounds of traditional PR by including Brands2Life's first ever mainstream TV ad, generating the client's best sales week ever. There are also EMEA SABRE nominations for Bouncingham Castle for King; Better Family Life Index for uSwitch; along with an In2SABRE Awards for Arup (Best Use of LinkedIn).  — AS

IN.FOM (Singapore/Independent)

Last year’s Asia-Pacific Technology Consultancy of the Year, IN.FOM is in the vanguard of a new generation of Asian PR firms—all launched in the early years of this decade—that have eschewed the scale and bureaucracy of established firms, for an approach that prizes sustainable employee and client relationships.

 The leadership team includes managing partners Wong Voal Voal and Mike Liew, who bring impressive pedigrees with global agencies H+K and Burson-Marsteller, respectively, and who understand the transformation of marketing and technology. Xiuwen Lien heads its key Microsoft relationship, which has been a consistent award-winner in recent years.

Last year saw continued healthy growth, with fee income up by more than 20% to around $3.3 million, with Microsoft adding Xbox Asia-Pacific work to the firm’s existing Singapore and Asia-wide assignments, and new clients including UnionPay Southeast Asia, Parallels, Nokia Networks Asia Pacific, Intralinks, Expedia and Logicalls joining a client roster that also includes CA Technologies, Herbalife, Intel, and Singtel.

 As ever, the work impresses: the firm managed Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s tour of nine Asian cities in 2016, picking up a SABRE Award for media outreach that generated more than 1,800 stories across six countries. This year, the firm promoted the software giant’s regional Digital Transformation Study and “youth and technology” outreach. — PH

Text100 (Global/Next15)

Throughout Text100's 36-year history, the Next15 firm has been best-known for its technology expertise, with its North American operation establishing itself via long-term relationships with Xerox, IBM and Cisco. In recent years, however, Text100 has begun the inevitable effort to diversify its offering, around a 'Vision 2020' plan that includes a refresh of our company’s vision, purpose and mission. After merging with two marketing-focused firms in London, Text100's capabilities are far removed from a narrow focus on the technology industry and much of the agency's new business — including a number of assignments in North America — favour the consumer and corporate sectors, including Egon Zehnder and Suntrust Bank. Indeed the firm's embrace of broader content, digital and data capabilities (which includes a 'dynamic newsroom' capability) helped underpin global growth of 5.3% to $66m, of which around $29m is derived from North America.

In Asia-Pacific, meanwhile, a 20-year-old presence translates into strategic depth in key markets across India, Australia, Southeast Asia and Greater China. And while the firm’s ‘Vision 2020’ global restructuring has dominated the headlines, a quiet transformation is also underway in Asia under the leadership of new regional chief Lee Nugent. Overall revenues grew 7% to around $20m in 2016, with profits up 24% to around $3.6m from 313 staffers in the region. There was significant new business (much of it multi-market) from Red Hat, NetApp Rolls Royce, China Telecom, Nvidia, Alibaba, Bosch, Harman, Netsuite and TVS Motors — joining an existing client roster that features IBM, Adobe, Lenovo, Cisco, Four Seasons, DHL, Telenor, Swift, Ikea and Gartner.  

After a relatively difficult period in EMEA, furthermore, Text100's London office is an increasingly vibrant presence, thanks in large part to the merger with two sibling firms in the UK — Republic Publishing and IncrediBull — bringing expertise in content and brand marketing, and helping fuel a restructuring of its broader regional offering around five distinct service groups — strategy, content, influence, social and digital. EMEA revenues reached £9m, with 145 staff working across offices in the UK, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. And the firm’s momentum is particularly evident from its new business performance, where it added Brightstar, Canary, Xerox, Tata Communications, Bupa, Surf Air, Avios,  Stripe and Nintendo to such key clients as Suntrust, Brightstar, Vodafone, IBM, Lenovo, HARMAN, Red Bull, Microsoft, Facebook and NCR.

Not only did the UK mergers bring a welcome change to Text100’s capabilities, though, but they have also served as a beacon for the firm’s global approach to the convergence of technology and consumer communications. It is not a stretch to say that Text100 now has a credible point of vie that distinguishes it from its rivals, focusing on a new agency structure that dispenses with traditional PR roles in favour of specialist skills such as brand strategy, content, film, digital design/build and activation. — AS