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It seems as long as there has been tech PR, there has been Text 100. And just as the technology sector has changed, so has Text 100. The firm has quickly adapted to changing market demands while still preserving the culture created under longtime CEO Aedhmar Hynes.
Text 100 is among a handful of technology PR firms with a truly global scope and in the midst of remarkable longevity (more than three decades and counting) the firm continues to take risks. As the largest firm in the Next 15 holding company, Text 100 employs more than 600 people in 23 offices around the world (302 in AsiaPac) and has a further 14 licensed partners. In the US, Text100 grew 20% and its global revenues total $57.3m.
Text 100 has solidified its standing in Asia-Pac after it absorbed sister Next 15 shop Bite in the region last year. The agency now spans across Australia, Mainland China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia and Singapore. Asia-Pacific fee income in 2014 totalled $16.2 million — a notable 31% year on year growth.
Hynes has thoughtfully guided Text100 to be a long-time, trusted partner for the tech blue chips — IBM, Cisco, Lenovo, Xerox — while also attracting the likes of MTV Networks, Adobe, British Airways, Jive Software, DHL, Four Seasons, Adobe, IKEA, SanDisk and Kayak along with emerging companies.
More recently the agency has astutely evolved its positioning from the early days of “high-tech” to today’s world where technology is at the core of almost everything.
Among its recent notable work, Text 100 carried out a smart and targeted LinkedIn campaign for Lenovo and showcased its creativity with “The Building of HomeAway - One Million Live Vacation Rental Listings” content program for HomeAway. Text 100 also launched “the world’s thinnest smartphone for KAZAM” — an industry-changing product from a fairly unknown brand. — AaS
Brands2Life's third consecutive win in EMEA 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
Eastwick’s reinvigorated business has not only shown sustained growth but is also positioned for long-term success. Founded in 1991, Eastwick was among the firms that established modern technology PR on the West Coast. Over the next 25 years, Eastwick underwent some significant changes including the departure of two co-founders. CEO Barbara Bates, however, persevered by pushing the agency back onto the forefront of tech PR by diversifying the business and making strategic marketing technology investments. Eastwick also joined Axicom to bid for more global work.
Revenues were up 24% to just over $10m in 2014 and headcount spiked from 26 employees in two offices to 58 people across three offices spanning two coasts. Clients include established companies amid upheaval — BMC Software and Unify, as well as companies making waves in their sector: Lynda.com, Schneider Electric, Salesforce, Facebook, Ooyala and Neustar.
Clients are serviced with well-built offerings across content marketing; digital media and strategy; creative services; research and analytics; and its core strategic communications.
Eastwick’s work stands out in the media relations-dominated tech PR field. For Unify, Eastwick took on a global remit to lead the global communications strategy, social media, customer marketing programs and content marketing around its rebrand. Its efforts resulted in more than 250k website visitors, 38 million Twitter impressions and 111 unique articles. The 20-year-old Webtrends came to Eastwick as an outdated analytics company. Through an aggressive media relations, analyst engagement and content program, Webtrends reversed its reputation.
Ultimately what’s kept the 25-year-old agency from growing stale is — not only Bates’ vision — but also the willingness to reinvest in the business. EVP and GM Heather Kernahan joined in 2013 to helm a solid leadership bench and the firm continues to seek creative programs to better itself. For instance, its CMO-in-residence initiative adds more depth to agency strategy and brings together the CMOs with clients looking for such consulting.
The combination of strong leadership, the willingness to change and the maturity to take on heavier assignments puts Eastwick in the sweet spot of a being technology firm that’s both innovative and experienced.— AaS
Part of the new generation of Asian PR firms that launched around five years ago, In.Fom has benefited considerably from its leaders’ mix of local market insight and big agency credibility. Managing partners Wong Voal Voal and Mike Liew both count impressive agency pedigrees with H+K and Burson-Marsteller, respectively, and have put that experience to good use by building a firm that has flourished amid the transformation of marketing and technology.
Like many big agency veterans who launch their own firms, Wong and Liew have eschewed scale and bureaucracy for an approach that prizes quality, longevity and talent management. The model appears to be paying off; In.Fom now numbers 17 employees, and doubled its billings in 2014 to $1.6m, with the firm expecting to crack the $2m barrier this year. The firm’s client roster demonstrates its ability to prevail over bigger rivals, including major regional and local mandates for Microsoft, CA Technologies, FCI Worldwide, Intel, Herbalife and Parallels/Odin. And In.Fom’s work is similarly impressive, particularly for Microsoft, resulting in several 2015 Asia-Pacific SABRE nominations.—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
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