2021 France/Benelux PR Consultancies of the Year | PRovoke

2021 France/Benelux Consultancies of the Year

The 2021 EMEA PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 200 submissions and meetings with the best PR firms across the UK, Europe the Middle East and Africa. Analysis of each of the finalists across 20 geographic and specialist categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or below. Winners were unveiled at the 2021 EMEA SABRE Awards on 9 June.

You can find the 2021 SABRE Awards EMEA winners here.

Winner: Jin (France/Independent)

aoy-backstory-iconBackstory

Jin was founded in 2012 by Edouard Fillias, Alexandre Villeneuve and Romain Boudre, who recognised an opportunity to launch a new kind of PR agency that combined digital marketing, technology and influence. One of the very few homegrown French agencies to break beyond its borders, Jin has developed into an international, multilingual boutique with a European core and a digital-first mindset. The agency has also broken the communications agency mould by developing in-house technologies via its Startup-Studio, including Pitchboy, the first VR pitch training tool for sales and customer relationship management. Its corporate practice focuses on supporting C-suite digital and social media leadership in the pharma, banking and manufacturing sectors, while the b rand practice is a French leader in influencer marketing in the food and consumer technology sectors.

aoy-location-iconLocations

As well as its Paris headquarters, Jin has offices in London, Berlin and Lisbon.

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Last year, Jin raised €3 million in funding from French private equity and venture capital firm CITA Investment as part of its ambition to grow into the leading European digital group. The agency’s fee income rose 21.5% from €9.3 million to €11.3 million, including €1 million from the UK, with headcount increasing from 75 to 80. Jin’s client roster includes Groupe Bouygues, Chipotle, Allianz, Tinder, Philips and Twinings, with new work coming from companies including PayPoint and Total. Beating big networks to the account, Jin became Technicolor’s global agency of record – 60% of its clients now use the agency for global campaigns. Growth came from areas including digital, C-suite communications, and data, analysis and insights. Clients rated Jin’s service at 8/10, and one client, childcare brand Beaba, paused all agencies except Jin because it was critical for traffic generation on its ecommerce site; Jin had a 95% client retention rate over the year, the highest in its history.

aoy-people-iconPeople & Culture

Jin’s employee base is largely millennial, very tech-savvy and used to working virtually across borders, so the transition to remote work was frictionless. Maintaining morale, however, was paramount: the leadership stepped up internal communications to ensure no one was left in isolation, with internal campaigns including the #NoWayLikeHome challenge where every employee was asked to show their secret talent, leading to fun video content. The agency also gave employees access to fitness and wellbeing coaches in each market. Jin has a zero-tolerance policy on discrimination, sexism, bullying and harassment, and has never recorded an employee complaint: this is particularly important at a time where French advertising and PR agencies are under scrutiny, with popular Instagram account #BalanceTonAgency sharing testimonials of harassment.

While French Law prohibits keeping ethnicity data, 50% of Jin employees in managerial positions are women. The agency gives pro bono influencer, social media and PR strategy support to three NGOs: The SeaCleaners, Techfugees, and The Ocean Clean Up. Senior hires included Simon John from Dentsu X as MD of Jin UK. 

aoy-leadership-iconThought Leadership & Work

The agency’s thought leadership over the year included The Influencer Manual, a book co-written by CEO Fillias with brand director François-Charles Rohard; The Impact of Technology during COVID-19 report of a survey conducted in France, UK, Germany and the US, which found that the pandemic increased inequalities between generations and revenue brackets when it came to use of technology; ebooks on influencer marketing and directr to consumer, and a guide to digital events. Standout work included an influencer marketing campaign for Philips Hue which led to sales 250% over target and a sold-out lighting range, and social media and influencer work for Halo Top that made it a top-three ice-cream brand in Monoprix supermarkets across France.

Maja Pawinska Sims



Finalists

Monet + Associés (France/Independent)

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Monet’s positioning reflects its focus on creating engagement, which has helped it develop into one of France’s leading PR firms, with 68 staffers focusing on consumer, corporate, healthcare and technology — underpinned by particularly strong expertise in influence, social media and data/analytics. Capabilities expanded last year through the addition of a branding consultancy and a PR firm in Bordeaux. 

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Headquartered in Paris, the firm operates four further regional agencies in France. 

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Despite Covid, Monet grew 10% in 2020 to €6,690,000, thanks in part to the external agency additions. There was an impressive new business haul that included Nestlé, Eckes Granini, Mattel, Yamaha, Engie, Adobe, Bordeaux Tourism, Danone and Energizer, joining an existing roster that features Casio, Bosch, Siemens, Bayer, Bouygues, Nokia, Roche, Pilot, Vicat, and Merck.

aoy-people-iconPeople & Culture

Founder Julian Monet continues to serve as CEO of a team that expanded from 54 to 68 staffers in 2020. Key arrivals during the year included strategic planner Raphaële Blot and Bordeaux office director Pierre-François Bourjalliat.

aoy-leadership-iconThought Leadership & Work

The firm currently readying the launch of a internal tool that will help it measure KPIs across media relations, influence and social media — reflecting its capabilities in terms of data, media intelligence and branded content. In terms of campaigns, highlights include Bosch Families, and Chocapic Nutri-Game.

Whyte Corporate Affairs (Belgium/Independent) 

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Since its inception in 2008, Whyte has positioned itself in the Belgian market as a leader in corporate affairs, the custom mix of corporate communications and public affairs the firm’s founders deemed its specialty from the outset. Throughout, Whyte has stayed true to its founding principles and plan. But it also has evolved, shifting operations into higher gear around innovation, diversification and upgrading the firm’s core corporate affairs services, boosting its stature in the market. The firm continues to offer valuable insight into the Belgian media, political, corporate, social, and academic landscape, an expertise that allows Whyte to define the right audiences, recommend the most appropriate channels of communication, to formulate the right messages and to anticipate actions and reactions. That expertise has been strengthened by a commitment to analytics and research and a growing emphasis on digital channels and visualization. 

aoy-location-iconLocations

Whyte is based in Belgium with offices in Brussels and Antwerp, which covers the Flanders market.

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2020 was a record year for Whyte, which garnered business from companies needing help managing the impact of the Covid pandemic — much like the firm experienced in 2008, when it launched in midst of the subprime mortgage crisis. Fee income rose nearly 15% to €5.2 million, and staff grew to 31. GSK, INEOS, Swissport, UCB, Miele, FedEx, IKEA, Orange, Bristol Myers Squibb were among Whyte’s new clients, joining an impressive list of existing partners including Carrefour, UBER, Swissport, ING, Port of Antwerp, UCB, Danone, Mondelez, and Kindred. The growth was also fueled by demand for Whyte’s newly expanded internal comms and change management services, which put Whyte at the center of international dealings such as M&A and corporate restructuring. 

aoy-people-iconPeople & Culture

Whyte founders Sandrine Agie, Joris Bulteel, Eveline de Ridder and Emmanuel Goedseels still run the firm, which they have done with the consistency and vision that has fueled its growth over the years. And they also make smart hires. In September, Freek Bracke joined from Unilever, where he served as communications director for the company’s Belgium and Netherlands operations. At the end of the year, Whyte named its first diversity & inclusion officer at the behest of a D&I taskforce, which focused on strengthening internal policies and integrating DE&I into client work. 

aoy-leadership-iconThought Leadership & Work

Whyte’s new information design offering was a big factor in the firm’s 2020 growth, with clients opting to use visuals to be more effective in crisis comms, public affairs, issues management and change communications. Whyte’s hallmark work included a public affairs campaign that enabled Uber to launch in Flanders; supporting ground handling companies with lobbying and communications during the early days of the Covid pandemic; and serving as a strategic advisor on the Flemish government’s Oosterweel project in Antwerp, one of Western Europe’s largest infrastructure projects.

Diana Marszalek