2020 Global Public Affairs Agencies of the Year | PRovoke Media
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2020 Global Public Affairs Agencies of the Year

The 2020 Global PR Agencies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 500 submissions and (virtual) meetings with the best PR firms across North AmericaEMEAAsia-Pacific and LatAm.

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 2020 Global SABRE Awards, which took place virtually at the 2020 PRovokeGlobal Summit on 21 October. 

Winner: Precision Strategies (US/Independent)

Founded by Obama campaign veterans Stephanie Cutter, Jen O’Malley Dillon and Teddy Goff, Precision’s roots as pioneering digital and data specialists have served the firm well since its inception in mid-2013. The business has grown rapidly, up 21% last year to $18m, surely making it one of the fastest-growing startups of the decade. Now numbering almost 70 people across its headquarters in Washington, DC and New York office, Precision’s impressive numbers reflect its expansion into multiple sectors, supported by considerable investment in senior talent including communications MD Mike Spahn, data/analytics director Naimul Haq and advertising director Andy Amsler, along with 2018 COO hire Tom Reno.

Across all of its work, Precision demonstrates an ability to drive earned, digital and paid media via a more sophisticated understanding of grassroots campaigning than most. That includes the firm’s own data integration and analytics platform, which it launched last year to help support decision-making. And with 2019 marking the start of a new presidential election cycle, Precision handled the loss of employees to campaigns without missing a beat, developing hiring standards and establishing a diversity and inclusion team.

That has helped it support such core clients as March for Our Lives, the Sacramento Kings, Families Belong Together, Humana, GE, the ACLU, NWDA and Planned Parenthood, along with news assignments from IBM, Verizon, MGM Resorts, SEIU, Lionsgate, NYC 2020 Census, Hope Town United, MTA, Hickenlooper for Colorado and Global Citizen.

And it is Precision’s campaign work that truly marks it out as one of the nation’s top firms, reflecting its ability to seamlessly join strategic communications with digital, advertising, coalition building, data/analytics and creative development. Most notably, that included continued work for March for Our Lives, helping to generate a 47% increase in youth voter turnout at the 2018 midterm elections, and making gun safety a top issue in the 2020 presidential election. Since the historic 2018 March in Washington, furthermore, more than 137 new laws on gun safety have passed, with Precision’s work on the Generation Lockdown campaign winning six Cannes Lions Awards, including the Grand Prix for Good. — AS

Finalists

Argyle 
(Canada/Independent)

Argyle has something of a unique status among Canadian PR firms. It is both one of its oldest, having started life in 1979, and one of its fastest-growing, following a management buyout in 2003. After effectively doubling in size last year when it merged with Western Canada consultancies ChangeMakers and Context and acquired social/digital firm Matchstick, Argyle is now one of Canada’s largest independents, growing its fee income by 11.5% to CAD$14.5m, numbering almost 100 employees in seven cities with considerable strength across corporate, public affairs, consumer and healthcare. 

Meanwhile, the firm’s Public Relationships Index also showcases its thinking to good effect, helping explain the longevity of its assignments for such clients as Facebook, Instagram, UPS, Enterprise Holdings, MD Financial, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Desjardins, AbbVie Pharma, Novo Nordisk and Safe Work Manitoba. And there was plenty of new business too, from BC Ferries, Biogen, California Raisins, Canadian Medical Association, Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, Fort McKay First Nation, Panasonic and the Smith School of Business at Queen's University. Argyle also has ongoing mandates with numerous state, local and foreign governments, along with the likes of Allergan, Bausch Health, Church & Dwight, Dietitians of Canada, GSK, Kal Tire, Saputo and Takeda.

Under the leadership of owner and CEO Daniel Tisch, Argyle's focus has been on integrating its new capabilities and staff. The leadership team includes COO Stefan Moores, marketing EVP Correy Myco and SVPs Alison George, Rob McEwan and Roanne Argyle. Kim Blanchette, a former senior government comms executive also arrived last year as SVP and GM of Western Canada, replacing Krista Bax. 

Argyle’s work reflects its expertise across multiple business lines, including new specialisms in agribusiness and international trade, social marketing, indigenous communications and ESG. Campaign highlights include the Hats for Hope effort that helped broaden awareness of of brain cancer on behalf of the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada; the #OurHuman Energy campaign that underpinned the launch and rollout of Efficiency Canada; and, the digital No More Eyescuses initiative that improved conversions for the Ontario Association of Optometrists. — AS 


FTI Strategic Communications (FTI Consulting) 

The strategic communications segment of FTI Consulting’s business saw very healthy 8.8% growth in 2019, fueled by a particularly strong fourth quarter; a solid core of crisis communications, public affairs, capital markets communications and special; as well as growth in specialist areas such as litigation support. Strategic communications now accounts for $243 million of the consulting firm’s advisory business, which also includes corporate finance and restructuring, economic consulting, and forensic and litigation services and which grew large enough to join the Fortune 1000 last year.

In EMEA, the Brussels public affairs team has grown from around 20 at acquisition to 90 people today, probably the largest public affairs team in the European capital, supplemented by public affairs practices in Paris, London, Berlin, and Dubai, and—new in 2019—a Madrid presence. Sector expertise spans energy, transport and the environment (Anglo-American and ExxonMobil are key clients); technology (Amazon, Netflix, and the Fair Standards Alliance); financial services (Mastercard, Vanguard); and healthcare (Biogen, BMS, Novartis). New business came from Chemours (protecting the chemical company’s licence to operate in EU); Facebook (navigating policy conversations in the tech space and broader socio-economic spectrum); Payments Europe (setting up and managing a new industry coalition); and CRISPR Therapeutics (EU PA).

Brussels office founder Julia Harrison was appointed global head of public affairs last year and will oversee an integrated offering for clients navigating political and regulatory oversight and complex business issues, working across sectors and geographies. Senior managing director Hans Hack, part of the Brussels leadership team for six years will take over the operation there. Elsewhere the leadership team remains strong with Lutz Golsch (Germany), Alex Deane (London), and Maria Cohn (Dubai) remaining in place, Carlos Ochoa relocating from Brussels to Madrid. New hires included Helen Nowicka and Martin Porter, strengthening the firm’s sustainability practice.—PH

Hanover (EMEA/Avenir Global)

In Hanover’s first year of operation after being bought by Canadian group Avenir in April 2019, the agency founded by Charles Lewington 22 years ago grew by 9% to over £20 million. The consultancy is now a 172-strong heavyweight with true trusted advisor status, working with some of the world’s biggest businesses on the most complex global communications challenges. Hanover’s corporate heartland, led by MD Gavin Megaw and deputy MD Gary Cleland, grew by 18%, and there was also strong performance from healthcare, up 21% and now working with half of the world’s leading pharma companies. Outside London, Hanover Middle East, led by Jonty Summers, contributed more than £2 million to revenue.

The agency welcomed new clients including Merck, Instagram, Astra Zeneca, Centrica, LaLiga & Airbnb, but again put a strong internal focus on organic growth, so by the end of 2019 more than half of new revenue came from additional projects for existing clients, who include Facebook, Sky, Goldman Sachs, Novartis, Roche, Lucozade Ribena Suntory, Apple and Uber.

To attract new talent, Hanover launched ‘Live Uncommon’ to show what it’s like working at the agency, highlighting its investment in employee-development and wellbeing, training and Live-Smart workshops to reward good work through spot prizes and bonuses. It launched the Mackay Programme to find more experienced healthcare hires – a sector where the talent shortage is particularly acute. The agency also added a global crisis offering, which has provided preparedness and testing for situations from industrial relations issues to terrorism for major corporate around the world. And, always innovating, Hanover introduced a strategy and insights team comprised of communications, research and data analysts, a sustainability and purpose offer called Hanover 360° and a methodology for aligning culture, purpose, employee advocacy and engagement and risk management called NOWPROOF. — MPS