Technology PR Consultancies of the Year, EMEA 2015 | Holmes Report

2015 EMEA Technology Consultancies of the Year

Our 2015 EMEA PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 150 submissions and 100 face-to-face meetings with the best PR firms across the region.

Winners received their trophies at the EMEA SABRE Awards in London on 19 May. Analysis of all Winners and Finalists across 20 categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or below.

Tech Consultancy of the Year — Brands2Life (Independent)

Brands2Life's third consecutive win in this category confirms its status as the defining European tech PR firm of the decade. Indeed, there is little evidence that Brands2Life is resting on its laurels. Instead, the agency appears to be as focused as ever, growing 11% in 2014 to near the £10m barrier. Much of that is down to Brands2Life's singular ability to change with the times — after expanding successfully into consumer, the firm now boasts an impressive digital capability that includes such areas as data analytics, community management, customer service support, social app development, SEM and social ad buying.

Brands2Life's technology offering remains underpinned by major clients such as Autodesk, EMC, Google and VMware. After pinpointing a number of sectors for growth in 2012, the firm has delivered on that vision by winning business from clients such as John Lewis, Harris + Hoole in retail,=; 118 118 Money, MoneySuperMarket, UK Bond Network and Zopa in financial services; and, in the digital space, EasycarClub, Groupon, LinkedIn, Pinterest and TravelSupermarket. In 2014, there was also new business Ascot Racecourse, Atos, Canary Wharf Group, Collinson Group, GE Power Conversion, iCracked and Intuit.

Brands2Life's campaign work, meanwhile, remains among the best in the market, demonstrated by award-winning activity for Rentokil (taking 'Pestaurant' global); Groupon (the 'Glamburger'); LinkedIn ('Bring in Your Parents'); EMC ('Big Data League'); and, John Lewis. The firm's ability to handle global work is also worth mentioning, helping to explain its decision to launch the dedicated Brands2Life Global offer in late 2014.

Now numbering more than 100 staffers, Brands2Life's commitment to workplace culture and training also stands out, under the continued leadership of founders Giles Fraser and Sarah Scales. There is an excellent graduate internship programme, and a partnership with Ashridge Business School for senior staff. In addition to its digital growth, meanwhile, the firm's service offering is robust, covering content marketing, influencer analysis and some strong thought leadership work. — AS


3 Monkeys (Independent)

Better known, perhaps, for its consumer capabilities, 3 Monkeys has quietly developed an impressive technology practice that now contends for major assignments on both a UK and regional EMEA basis. In 2014, the firm's technology fee income grew 41% to £2.2m, underpinned by anchor client Microsoft and bolstered by new business from BT, Samsung, AppDynamics and Apigee, the latter two of which demonstrate the firm's focus on the Internet of Things.

In particular, 3 Monkeys has been able to bring its broader consumer and corporate capabilities to bear in the technology space, whether by providing board-level consultancy to BT on reinstating its innovation credentials or helping Appirio hone its market positioning in Europe. Indeed, 3 Monkeys' creative savvy stands out in a technology sector that often tilts towards vanilla PR work. For Microsoft, for example, 3 Monkeys has led a number of award-winning, multi-disciplinary campaigns, including 'The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator' — an animated graphic novel illustrated by the public, which put PR at the heart of brand storytelling leading marketing and advertising strategy above and below the line.

There was also compelling work for other clients, notably Trend Micro, for whom the firm has helped generate £3.5m in leads by building thought leadership around EU data regulation; and Lenovo, involving eye-catching consumer and digital work across Europe. — AS

(Next 15)

What a difference a year makes. In 2013, Bite endured perhaps the toughest year in the firm's history, involving — at various points — fraud, a failed acquisition in Germany and the loss of its key Microsoft relationship in the UK. That it has bounced back is down to two things: first, the decision to merge its continental business with Text 100 and secondly, and more importantly, the impressive strides made by Kath Easthope's leadership team at Bite UK.

After stabilising the business in the second half of 2013, Bite demonstrated solid progress in 2014, particularly via its growing consumer capabilities, which helped it win one of the year's biggest pitches, for Amazon. There was also plenty of new business in technology, including SagePay and Avanade, and a slew of startups such as WeWork and SurveyMonkey.

Above all, though, it is the firm's work and, indeed, overall mindset towards public relations that stands out. A new 'Link' methodology has seen the firm restructure around specialist skills such as planning, content and community, and helped drive some impressive campaigns for Avanade (where it handles all content, including build and design); Sage (where a 5% experimental 'play' budget resulted in a series of CEO Vine videos); and, Amazon (covering work on Kindle, streaming music and Prime Instant Video). 

Bite's focus on being a next-generation content agency is starting to pay off. There is considerable focus on talent and training, and a willingness to let younger staff drive the firm's positioning, illustrated by an eyebrow-raising careers video. Beyond the esprit de corps, though, is evidence that Bite is again a serious contender in the UK tech PR market.  — AS

Harvard (Chime)

When Louie St Claire took charge of Harvard in 2011, there were genuine questions over the firm's long-term viability. Once considered one of the strongest tech PR players in the market, Harvard had shrunk considerably to just 14 people and £1.6m in revenue after losing a number of key clients, including Vodafone and Adobe.

That the firm is now in contention for technology consultancy of the year is testimony to the resurgence that has taken place under a leadership team that includes St Claire, along with Ellie Bennett, Pete Marcus, David Rossiter and Jo Jamieson . Harvard reached almost £3m in revenues in 2014, after growing by 16% on 2013. The firm now employs 36 people and is a credible contender for the major tech accounts, helping it net new business from Huawei, Samsung and TalkTalk, adding to a roster that includes key clients Fujitsu and Sennheiser.   

But it is not just Harvard's growth that impresses. The firm's work demonstrates its evolution beyond traditional media relations, evidenced by the DataHeaven vs DataGeddon campaign for Fujitsu, which helped bring in £40m worth of sales leads and won a SABRE Award last year. Other compelling assignments included Huawei's UK communications strategy; Collaboration Nation for Fujitsu; and, launching video messaging app Wordeo.

Harvard likes to claim that it knows the technology market inside out, and its specialist knowledge of the sector, is clearly reaping dividends, whether for B2B or B2C brands. The firm's methodology also appears well-grounded, involving a considerable use of planning (often via access to Chime's 'Triple G' research) to help clients navigate and connect with the various ways in which technology is disrupting the modern communications landscape. — AS

Waggener Edstrom (Independent)

Despite well-publicised issues at its US parent company, Waggener Edstrom continues its relatively serene progress in EMEA, overcoming a bout of UK management instability to post another solid round of results. UK revenue grew 10% while South Africa surged by more than 25%. Germany also performed well, ensuring that WagEd was not unduly impacted by its decisions to pull out of Paris and Geneva.  

Like many of the better UK technology PR firms, meanwhile, WagEd has broadened its capabilities to good effect. This includes, for example, a specific focus on programmatic advertising (for such clients as Jeep and iRobot) marketing automation and data analytics — all of which combined strongly for the firm's eye-catching iRobot work, which used sophisticated digital insight to reframe the campaign and ultimately drive sales.

Indeed, WagEd's focus on next-generation technology is notable — thanks in part to its Studio D unit — and EMEA GM Chris Talago believes it helps expose the firm's people and clients to what he calls "commstech". There is an internal WE Labs initiative to drive this forward, along with partnerships with Digital Shoreditch and BBC Labs to get closer to the startup community.

New business included ZTE, Mediatek, Brightcove and Arqiva in the UK, while South Africa's client roster now includes the likes of Intel, Microsoft, Nissan and Money for Jam. Other that iRobot, there were notable campaign highlights via the Microsoft 4Afrika assignment; the GenMobile campaign for Aruba Networks; field marketing work for Dell in Germany; and interesting social activity for Intel in South Africa. —AS