Eastern European PR Consultancies of the Year 2019 | Holmes Report

2019 Eastern Europe Consultancies of the Year

Our 2019 EMEA PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 200 submissions and face-to-face meetings with the best PR firms across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Winners will be unveiled at the 2019 EMEA SABRE Awards dinner in London on 22 May. Analysis of all Finalists across 20 categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or here.

Winner: MSL (Publicis Groupe)

MSL has seven offices across Central and Eastern Europe – in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Turkey – and the network is eyeing further growth in one of its most successful areas within EMEA. It’s the only global network with comprehensive coverage of CEE, with 200 employees across the region, 100 of whom are based in Warsaw.

Under the leadership of Sebastian Hejnowski, CEE chief executive and Publicis growth officer, and managing director Sebastian Stepak, the agency had double-digit growth in the region of between €7-8m last year and – particularly in Poland – healthy margins.

The region is also known for being one of the most creative in the global MSL network, especially its award-winning Romanian office, which has won multiple awards for its creative comms work for clients including MedLife, whose Tomorrow’s Technology campaign featured the first live broadcasting of brain surgery, with 360-degree virtual reality.

New clients across CEE over the year were as varied as Orange, Heinz, the BalticSea2020 environmental foundation, Sharp, private equity firm ICENTIS Capital, Danone water brand Zwiec Zdroj and oil refiner Orlen, joining an impressive client list in the region featuring Amazon, Discovery Communications, Netflix, Carrefour, Danone, Pernod Ricard, Allianz, BNP Paribas, Ubisoft, PlayStation, Kayak and Emirates. — MPS



Communications Office Colic, Laco & Partners (Croatia/Independent)

Pooling more than 40 years of combined industry experience, partners Kristina Laco and Violeta Colić have built their firm, Communications Office Colic, Laco & Partners, into one of Croatia’s top-performing agencies, setting a new bar for performance in the market. With growing business interest — and entrepreneurism — underway in Croatia, Communications Office over the last 12 months have handled some of the region’s most complex communications challenges around privatizations, M&A, IPOs, restructurings and crises, in addition to more traditional company rebrands and product launches.

The firm added new clients including Agrokor, Center Luka Ritz, Croatian Association of Debt Collection Agencies Croatian Financial Services Supervisory Agency Croatian National Tourist Board, European Commission via ICF Mostra, NGO Perspektiva, Rijeka 2020 - European Capital of Culture, Synlab and  Zagrebačka banka. They join a client roster already populated by the likes of Allianz, AZ Pension Funds, Coca-Cola Adria, Coca-Cola HBC Croatia, A1, Croatian
Employers' Association, Croatian Bank Association, B2 Kapital, Meteor Group and Luksic
Group Croatia.

So it’s no wonder that Communications Office’s fee income surged in 2018, rising to nearly €1.4 from €899,000 the year before. Nor is it surprising that the agency was selected to handle some of the year’s biggest initiatives. The agency is handling the multi-faceted communications surrounding the city Rijeka being selected as one of the EU’s 2020 European capitals of culture, which includes a year’s worth of cultural events, as well as possibilities for rejuvenating the city.  Longtime client Coca-Cola tapped Communications Office to support the 50th anniversary of the brand’s entry into Croatia. Events included a Christmas event for 500 employees and partners as well as CSR initiatives including internships for unemployed youth and the Litter Coca-Cola project, which promotes the cleanup and preservation of Croatian rivers and lakes and the Adriatic Sea. — DM


Partner of Promotion (Poland/Independent)

In the 25 years since its launch, Partner of Promotion has grown into Poland’s largest agency, a $6m a year operation serving Polish companies as well as multinationals like Motorola, P&G, Philips, Nike and Logitech. Like its founder and president, Pawel Trochimiuk (who is public relations lecturer and author as well as practitioner) the agency touts a range of expertise —  corporate PR, product PR, Investor Relations and e-PR; Partner of Promotion’s professional advisory group counsels organizations in crisis management and event planning. The agency’s steadfast commitment to delivering results that has fueled its stature as a market leader that can deliver international results. While leveraging the value of experience, customizing approaches to client communications is a point of pride for Partner of Promotion, which takes stock of each of its partners needs and expectations as a means of meeting them.

Partner of Promotion has a track record for managing complex projects for companies across sectors as well as public institutions. Having created a network of agencies across Central Europe, called CEEPR-net, the firm has worldwide reach through partnering firms and others that enables it to deliver clients results internationally. Partner in Promotion works with some of the world’s most recognizable brands — Procter & Gamble, Renault and the chainsaw company Stihl among them. Recent work includes international campaigns for Head &Shoulders and launching the Polish energy drink Oshee around the world. Other initiatives included promoting Polish and European food in the markets including the US, Canada, China, Japan, UAE and Vietnam.

In 2018, Partner of Promotion won assignments from services Central Communication Port, UN Climate Summit (for the third time), fitness center chain McFIT and Mercedes Benz Warsaw. Particularly notable was the agency’s work for real estate developer Ghelamco, which helped win over skeptics who doubted the feasibility of the company’s two landmark office developments in Warsaw. — DM

Seesame (Slovakia/Independent)

Our 2017 Eastern European Consultancy of the Year, Seesame Communication Experts spent its 22nd year in business honing its strategy and mission with the goal of maintaining its market leadership — and serve as a model for the Slovak PR industry. A big part of that was making a conscious effort to focus on campaigns that have positive impacts on Slovakia, its residents as well as business climate. In 2018, the agency created a social impact team devoted exclusively to working with clients, each of which is encouraged to rally around the causes that make sense for them and their business. Seesame grew in other ways during the last year, too. Adding to traditional PR services, the agency now has an creative solutions and an in-house editorial content teams, staffed by journalists and video editors. Senior staff share their expertise with clients, offering training on communicating with the media as well as business partners.

The moves are paying off for Seesame. The firm’s fee income rose to nearly €3m in 2018 (its fifth consecutive year of growth), thanks to existing clients expanding their assignment and new business wins.  Companies including Accenture, Enterprise Investors, ESET, Habitat for Humanity and Heineken joined a roster already populated by Henkel, Shell IKEA, Janssen and Pfizer. The year reaped notable campaigns, too. Working with Amazonky, a patient advocacy group, Seesame targeted women with metastatic breast cancer to promote them getting the best possible treatment while leading meaningful lives. A website, stojimzato.sk, featuring patients’ real-life stories, as well as pertinent information about the disease, was the centerpiece of the initiative. Another hallmark campaign was aimed at boosting young people’s understanding of HPV, and why getting vaccinated is so important. WTF is HPV included a video featuring YouTubers seeking the answer to that question, ultimately to be directed to a website, HPV.sk. — DM

United Partners (Bulgaria/Independent) 

One of the pioneers of PR in the Bulgarian market, United Partners has worked with more than 200 clients on almost 1,700 projects—more than half of them international in scope. Amassing those kinds of numbers in 22 years reflects United Partners running a business based on its values: reliability, innovation, learning, positivity and passion. And it does so in some particularly notable ways: The firm tests a new tool every week; Clients select the individuals on the United Partners team with whom they want to work.

Over the last 12 months, United Partners has furthered its push to master the integration of paid, earned, shared and owned channels. This year saw a strengthening of the data driven strategies, influencer marketing approach (creating a partnership with INDAHASH); developing and providing a new service Inbound Marketing and PR (becoming Hubspot’s first agency in Bulgaria) and expanded AI and VR capabilities. The agency also launched a virtual press room. Key leadership changes. Telecommunications sector head Victor Savkin was upped to COO. The firm’s Victoria Solakova was tapped to run the agency’s ICT practice, which accounts for 45% of its business. All under the watch of CEO Maria Gergova-Bengtsson, who founded the agency and has steered its growth since.

So while the firm continues to work with some long term clients — P&G (21 years), IBM (12 years), VMware, Bayer and H&M among them — it has been aggressive on the new business front, picking up assignments from SAAB, The Economist, Financial Times, Fjällräven; Swedish-Bulgarian Chambre of Commerce; Samsung; and EU Commission, growing fee income to around $1.72m. — AS/DM