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Our 2016 North America PR Agencies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 150 submissions and 50 face-to-face meetings with the best PR firms across the US and Canada.
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Method Communications (Independent)
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
Bateman Group (Independent)Amid the crowded — and ever-growing — field of Silicon Valley boutiques, the Bateman Group has steadily evolved and expanded over a decade. Revenue is up 33% to $8.3m with 48 staff across offices in San Francisco and Brooklyn. Key long-term clients include AdRoll, Google, Lightspeed, Ping with new wins Blue State Digital, CloudPassage, Intuit QuickBase, LinkedIn, L’Oreal and others. The new clients wins are indicative of a strategy the firm put forth last year to diversify the portfolio to include new sectors like digital media/marketing, digital health and wellness, consumer, and research and innovation.
Bateman also expanded its owned content work and is now managing blogs (from ideation to editorial calendar to writing) for multiple clients. The firm’s data storytelling offers primary and third-party research from ideation through designing a narrative around the results and media placement. Notable work includes securing a New York Times business section cover story for HackerOne — a piece that was strategically designed to spark broad interest in the company leading up to its Series B funding event.
Inspired by the 1-1-1 movement created by Salesforce, Bateman’s E3THOS pledges 2% of profits, 2% of time and 2% of partner equity to support local nonprofit programs in San Francisco and New York. — AaS
The Bulleit Group (Independent)
Revenues are above $2m, up 39% from the prior year (with projections to grow 60% in 2016) with 16 people across San Francisco, Nashville, Washington DC, New York and London. The client portfolio is a careful balance between larger and smaller companies, and consumer and enterprise. This includes working on seven division of Google, Eero, Halo Neuroscience, itBit, Flexport and Gigster.
When providing examples of its work, furthermore, Bulleit manages to circle the outcome back to an actual business objectives like stock price, business and partnership leads generated and sales goals. — AaS
The Hoffman Agency (Independent)CEO Lou Hoffman persistently pushes his agency to exceed expectations and challenge outdated industry conventions — but not for its own sake. The point is “to stay out of PR commodity hell” by figuring out ways to remedy poor organic SEO results for clients (especially those who are spending money on the paid side of this) or creating a storytelling methodology that eschews the noise pollution trap. Hoffman’s also pushes the industry to seriously consider its approach to media relations by applying supply-and-demand economics theory to media relations.
Revenues are $4.5m with fueled by wins like High Definition Audio that hired the firm for content marketing on the strength of its storytelling methodology and SEO expertise and Avast, joining existing clients Nautilus, City of Fremont, Stamps.com and Nokia. SABRE judges gave nods to the firm’s use of LinkedIn for ZixCorp, alignment of organic and paid SEO for Endicia (as well as its work refining the content of its blog) and the lean-thinking used to build a Fitness IQ survey for Nautilus. — AaS
Walker Sands (Independent)
Their approach is the Digital Ecosystem (an integrated model that incorporates earned, owned, paid strategies) that has pushed the firm to make investments in Google Analytics certifications, visual storytelling, copywriters and video storytellers.
The work includes helping Dotcom Distribution, an e-commerce fulfillment and third-party logistics provider, evolve its lead generation program from referrals and telemarketing to a content-driven approach that leverages PR, social and search tactics. The strategy triggered an 85% increase in web traffic, grew Dotcom’s monthly web leads tenfold, and contributed to more than $3 million in new business. Meanwhile, when CompTIA, a nonprofit IT association, looked to launch a new cybersecurity training program, Walker Sands launched a social experiment. 200 unmarked USBs were dropped in cities across the US to see how many people would plug them in. The resulting research was used to create a report, infographic and video series which yielded more than 100 placements, 53 million impressions and almost 400 new leads for their program. Other clients include GrubHub, G2 Crowd, Accenture Interactive and others.
Mike Santoro has been the firm’s president since 2008. — AaS
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