Global New Agencies of the Year 2018 | Holmes Report

2018 Global New Agencies of the Year

The 2018 Global PR Agencies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 450 submissions and face-to-face meetings with the best PR firms across North AmericaEMEA 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 are announced at the 2018 Global SABRE Awards, which take place at the PRovoke18 Global PR Summit in Washington, DC, on the evening of 24 October. 

Winner: CURA Strategies (US, Independent)

CURA Strategies cofounders Anne Woodbury and Jeff Valliere worked together at FleishmanHillard and its Washington, DC, subsidiary GMMB before going their separate ways—she to Togo Run and the offices of former Speaker Newt Gingrich, he to digital strategy firm Threespot and the Obama campaign. They reunited in January 2016 to launch a new firm that would focus on healthcare public affairs in the healthcare sector, helping to address some of the critical issues facing the healthcare sector in America and providing a voice to advocacy groups and causes with a stake in the big health policy debates.

That objective has been realized, with CURA’s 2017 projects including handling veterans’ health work for The Elizabeth Dole Foundation (supporting military caregivers), PsychArmor Institute, and MDxHealth, and coalition building activity for Advocates for Opioid Recovery. Other highlights included work on behalf of The National Diabetes Prevention Program, created by Congress and managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and winning a competitive pitch to become agency of record for the American College of Cardiology’s annual scientific session.

As a result, CURA has grown over the past couple of years to become a firm of 11 people, with 19 clients and fees of close to $2 million — all of that despite the fact that its largest client elected to take many of its communications activities in-house last year (a process CURA supported through the transition). In December, the firm expanded its offerings to include direct government relations with the addition of vice president Scott Leezer, formerly of The Federal Group. — PH


First Partners (India, Independent)

Since its mid-2016 launch, First Partners has built an impressive client roster, including 15 major players that are a healthy mix of multinational brands, large Indian corporations, government mandates and industry associations. During its short existence, the firm has also built a staff of 30, who support the likes of  Rolls-Royce (a global aerospace technology leader), global health food company Danone and the Indian conglomerate ITC across six fully-owned offices in the cities of Noida, Gurugram, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata.

Business surged for First Partners in 2017, with the agency experiencing 750% year-over-year growth. The firm handled one of the year’s most high-profile events — the launch of India’s first bullet train project, inaugurated by the prime ministers of India and Japan. The firm rallied massive media support for the project, and helped change public sentiment for the bullet train — which critics called wasteful given India’s ailing railway infrastructure — by positioning it as something Indians could be proud of. Elsewhere, consumer research for Danone made headlines by revealing urban India is protein deficient, just like its rural communities. Both of those campaigns won SABRE South Asia Awards, alongside work for reflecting the pedigree that founders Atul Ahluwahlia and Dilip Yadav bring from their time at Corporate Voice.

First Partners has also rolled out proprietary tools, including one that ties communications to business outcomes, and addresses them as such. Also last year, the agency created partnerships — including one with the ad agency Quantum Communications, helping give First Partners the heft it needed to win government clients that typically wouldn’t work with such a young agency. As a result, India’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs' (MOHUA) flagship programme Swachh Bharat Mission (Clean India Mission) is among First Partners' clients. — DM

Talker Tailor Trouble Maker (UK, Independent)

When M&C Saatchi PR’s former global MD Gary Wheeldon and global executive creative director Steve Strickland launched their own creative comms agency in 2016 for “brands looking to upstage the status quo”, it was always going to shake up the PR business.

Talker Tailor Trouble Maker bills itself as straight talking, hungry, risk-taking, fun-loving, controversy-courting and smart thinking. With big name clients like Wagamama, Mastercard, Deliveroo and Direct Line already along for the ride, the duo have exploded any notion that start-ups have to start small: fee income for 2017 was achingly close to £1m, and the agency already has 16 staff.

Significant hires over the year included former Freud’s director Alex Pearse, who is helping to drive growth among the agency’s retained clients, former News of the World and Loaded editor Ian Edmondson as head of media and Instagram queen Jolene Lukeba, who is developing high-reach influencer programmes.

Talker Tailor Trouble Maker does almost everything differently to the rest of the industry, from closing the office every Wednesday to make the space available “for the greater good”, to unlimited holiday and providing breakfast, lunch, a free bar and awards outfits to its team. Strickland and Weeldon set out to create a diverse agency from the off, and thought leadership last year from the opinionated agency included PR WOKE, voicing the views of BAME people in the industry. — MPS