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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.
After three consecutive years as EMEA Technology Consultancy of the Year, it seemed a little unfair to keep comparing the rest of the region’s technology PR firms with a 125-person agency that has effectively defined that category. So Brands2Life won the far more competitive UK Consultancy of the Year category this year, thanks to its singular ability to evolve with the times, as comfortable handing B2B tech PR as it is with straight consumer or C-suite corporate counsel, bolstered by an an impressive digital capability and a staff culture that remains one of the best in the country.
Launched in 2000, the independent firm’s continued relevance is testimony to the restless, slightly paranoid leadership style that often characterises the best PR consultancies. In 2015, furthermore, founders Giles Fraser and Sarah Scales oversaw what was probably Brands2Life’s best year to date, growing 18% to £11.5m, led by a broad swathe of new business across technology, consumer and digital brands such as 888, Budgens, Virgin Media, Zoopla, uSwitch, Gatwick Airport, Canary Wharf and Thomson Reuters. They join a client roster that remains underpinned by big tech brands like EMC, VMware and Intuit, along with consumer-facing players such as Nikon, LinkedIn, Groupon and Pinterest.
30% of B2L’s business now comes from outside technology, reflecting a diversification strategy that has now only helped it grow, but also aided staff retention and development. More than half of the firm’s work, furthermore involves multiple markets, thanks in large part to B2L’s ability to develop integrated multi-channel campaign work that is among the best in the region, and an impressive digital capability that has grown rapidly in recent years to 25 people, covering such areas as data analytics, community management, customer service support, social app development, SEM and social ad buying.
This year alone there were In2 SABRE Awards for Qlik’s ‘How European Are You’ brand digital platform, and for Nikon Europe’s ‘Project Spotlight’, to go with eye-catching ATL work for Intuit; a full rebrand and website build for Redtail Telematics; the launch of Virgin Media’s ultrafast broadband capability; global and EMEA social media for LinkedIn; and excellent retail activity for John Lewis.Brands2Life's commitment to workplace culture and training also stands out — 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
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 a strong contender 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, Jo Jamieson and new addition Phil Szomszor, who came aboard as digital engagement director.
Harvard reached £4m in revenue in 2015, a remarkable 39% increase on 2014, generated by 40 people that regularly contend for the biggest technology accounts in the market. Last year there was new business from Digital Garage, Insight UK, IO, Linn, Lycamobile, Quantcast, Ricoh Europe, Salmon, Virgin Media Business and Xactly, joining a client roster that includes key clients Vodafone, Fujitsu, Arbor Networks, Cisco and TalkTalk.It is not just Harvard's growth that impresses. 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. A robust evaluation framework has also been adopted, along with a staff development culture that as resulted in an 8.4 Net Promoter Score among employees.
Harvard likes to claim that it champions the tech sector, and its specialist knowledge is clearly reaping dividends as technology plays a more central role in every business. There is a commitment to technology industry events and startup projects, which has helped fuel standout work for Cisco (overhauling its digital identity); TalkTalk (‘Making Britain’s Small Businesses Better Off’); Salmon (Black Friday); and Fujitsu (‘Digital Inside Out’). — AS
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, helping it land Technology Consultancy of the Year honours last year. In addition to Wong and Liew, the firm also counts senior leadership from Xiuwen Lien, who heads its key Microsoft relationship.
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 billings increased 35% in 2015 to US$2.1m, with the firm expecting 25% expansion this year too. The firm’s client roster demonstrates its ability to prevail over bigger rivals, including continued expansion of its regional mandates for Microsoft and Herbalife, along with new business (much of it multi-market) from UnionPay, Janssen, Nokia, Intralinks, Marina Bay Sands, Singtel and ST Engineering, all of which join a client roster that also features Intel and CA Technologies.
IN.FOM’s work continues to stand out, helping the agency land fourth spot on last year’s Global Creative Index. There was impressive thought leadership for Microsoft’s Office 365, including integrated work that surveyed 13 Asian markets on how digital is disrupting the world of work, and numerous finalists at this year's Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards. — AS
Method seems to be the technology firm that blindsided Silicon Valley by arriving into the market already inching towards $10m. The Salt Lake City-based agency started when the co-founders, who handled communications for the billionaire Sorenson family’s business empire, spun Method off as an independent entity in 2010.
In the span of just six years, Method averaged 70% year-over-year growth to nearly $10m with 65 employees across Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The firm’s client portfolio reflects its leadership in fintech and edtech — for instance, personal finance platform Credit Karma has more than 50 million members; BlueVine and Robinhood have been recognized among Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies. In edtech, Method represents Instructure, which went public in 2015, and Pluralsight, an e-learning platform with a valuation exceeding $1 billion, and up-and-comers like Clever and GoGuardian.
Its work on Vivint Smart Home featured the company’s CEO on the CBS show “Undercover Boss” — and amplifying that with more media to help the company standout in a market crowded with titans like Google, Apple and ADT. Client Domo wanted brand awareness and leadership while keeping the details of its technology stealth, so the Method laid the groundwork with customer case studies and contributed articles until the company was ready for a full-blown media tour.
Co-founder David Parkinson recently relocated to San Francisco, meanwhile co-founder Jacob Moon remains in Salt Lake City. Heather England, hired from OutCast, is among the leaders in its San Francisco operation. — AaS
Sling & Stone (Australia/Independent)
Sling & Stone has bottled the ethos of challengers, disrupters and entrepreneurs and molded this into a refreshing PR approach. Their formula calls for beautiful work, curiosity, hustle and the blend of art and science. Given its emphasis on culture, the Sydney-based firm has made it a point to be transparent about its inner workings and overall culture. The goal, ultimately, is to attract prospects looking “to do the best work of their careers,” helping the firm take top marks in this year's Best Agencies to Work For research in Asia-Pacific.
In the financial year ending June 30, revenues are up 64% as the six-year-old agency grows into a midsize firm with multimillion-dollar revenues and 25 people. Key clients include Autodesk, Xero, Koala and MailGuard among others. The firm boasts that 37 out of its 39 retained clients were secured via referrals, word-of-mouth or other inbound leads. And part of retaining its culture is saying no — in fact, Sling & Stone have passed on 72 prospects this year so far.
The work includes a campaign for Xero that yielded 471 pieces of coverage in six months and garnering more than 500 media features for DesignCrowd’s Guerilla Design campaign (the work also resulted in increased web metrics for the client). — AaS
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