Regional Consultancies of the Year (Midsize) | PRovoke Media

2024 Regional Consultancies of the Year (Midsize)

The 2024 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 Winners and finalists across 20 geographic and specialist categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or below. Winners are unveiled at the 2024 EMEA SABRE Awards, which take place in London on 17 April. Tickets and tables are available here.

You can find the 2024 SABRE Awards EMEA finalists here.

Finalists

Allison (Stagwell)

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Last year marked a new direction for Allison in Europe, from a media relations shop to a fully-integrated midsized marketing and communications agency that is a key part of a global network. This was exemplified in the agency’s rebrand from Allison+Partners, and the adoption of a more entrepreneurial mindset. Allison’s European team is led by UK and Ireland MD Jim Selman in London and Europe COO Heike Schubert in Munich, with Dan Whitney, MD of the marketing innovation team and Europe and global creative services lead as the architect of the new brand. The firm’s commitment to growing its offer in Europe was underlined early this year, when parent company Stagwell acquired London-based Sidekick to expand Allison’s footprint in Europe and significantly boost its integrated brand storytelling and creative production capabilities.

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In Europe, Allison has offices in Lyon, Munich, Paris, London and Dublin. It also operates in 13 cities across the US and has a significant presence across the Middle East and Africa, in Asia-Pacific and Latin America. 

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Allison’s UK and European income totalled just short of $7.8m last year, down slightly on 2022. The agency picked up a raft of clients in the region, including Anglian Water, Binance, LEK, IMAX, IHG Hotels and Resorts, Special Olympics, Revlon, Bytedance, and Women’s World Banking in the UK and Germany, which joined a client roster including Mars-Wrigley, Plug Power, Kimpton Hotels, Dow Jones, Reddit, Netatmo, Dexcom, and CyrusOne. 

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DEI is a priority for Allison, which adapts its strategies depending on the market. In the UK, the exco has a 50/50 gender split. The agency has set KPIs around representation and has a commitment to allocating 5% of annual spend to diverse suppliers by 2025. DEI training modules cover inclusive workplaces and cultural sensitivity, and are supported by a DE&I microsite. Allison offers comprehensive mental health support including ‘wellness hours’, unlimited PTO, private healthcare, and access to online therapists via Spill. It offers 20 weeks fully-paid maternity leave and support for secondary caregivers, with flexible return options and partnerships with The Maternity Pledge and PRMums. The agency has a flexible hybrid model and a new remote work benefit. There are plenty of opportunities for recognition and reward are integral, with outstanding contributions acknowledged through end-of-year bonuses, and the team regularly uses TikTok to showcase its agency culture. 

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The agency invested in AI tools including Brandgeist IQ, which measures real-time cultural relevance for consumer brands and is focused on disrupting norms and inclusivity, and Allison AI, its proprietary suite of AI services to improve efficiency and content generation, and support internal training and development. Its work over the year included a partnership with the Special Olympics partnership, supporting the 2023 World Games in Berlin., and the launch of the first Kimpton Resort in Europe, which boosted brand awareness of the luxury lifestyle brand. Allison was instrumental in the transformation of Pegasystems, now a billion-dollar leader in smart automation, and worked with Dexcom for World Diabetes Day 2023 on a global portrait gallery campaign to raise awareness about diabetes technology. 

Maja Pawinska Sims


Finn Partners (Independent) 

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Finn Partners has long been a darling of the US agency world, but in 2023 its EMEA team really stepped up a gear, under the leadership of EMEA managing partner Chantal Bowman-Boyles. In 2023, Finn made two acquisitions in EMEA to strengthen its practices, build market share, and expand its footprint into new markets: Outré Creative, an international creative and digital design agency specialising in financial services with offices in London and New York; and Hyderus, an international, health-focused communications and policy firm with a network in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.Finn’s EMEA work spans the full spectrum of sectors and services, and its flexible, collaborative model let to a wave of new business wins, larger client remits, award-winning work, high-profile new hires, and strategic acquisitions which drove double-digit growth. The agency is certainly poised to become a major player in the region. 

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Finn Partners has its global headquarters in New York, and it has EMEA offices in London, Dublin, Frankfurt, Jerusalem, Munich and Paris, as well as a network around the US and Asia-Pacific. 

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Finn’s revenues in Europe (UK, Ireland and Continental Europe) hit $21.7m, up by 25%. Adding Israel, which was negatively impacted by the war, overall EMEA fees were still up by 18% to $23.4m with 244 people across the UK, Ireland, France, Germany and Israel. Organic revenue from clients including Little Caesar’s, Wagamama, Iberostar, Visit Belize, Comcast Global grew by 15%. Travel sector revenue grew by 26.4%, with 20 new clients and eight tourism projects from the likes of Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, Tourism Ireland, Visit Greater Palm Springs, Jerusalem, Savoy Signature, Fairmont St. Andrews, Greek National Tourism Office, Egyptian Tourism Ministry and Rixos Hotels & Resorts. New consumer retainers came from Wagamama, No 3 Gin, Dole and Lyma, including pan-European and global client expansions. Corporate and financial services grew by 20% and healthcare grew by 27%, including expanded business with Sanofi and MSD. The agency also works with Aldi in Ireland and Waitrose in the UK. 

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Finn has a robust culture and benefits package including generous paid time-off, flexible work arrangements, working-from-home benefits, peer recognition programs, private medical insurance, pension plans, electric vehicle schemes and training and mentoring programmes. Talent mobility initiatives facilitate global transfers, and the agency also has a Hobbies, Interests and Passions (HIP) ERG, mental health support, and Thursday happy hours. In terms of diversity, the workforce is 68% female and 68% of those at partner level or above are women, with 19% representation of non-white employees. Promotions in 2023 reflected Finn’s commitment to diversity, with 66% of promotions going to women and 17% to diverse employees. The company also fosters diversity through initiatives like the Global Employee DEI Committee and the FINNGives donation program supporting equal justice organizations. Key EMEA hires including Germany lead Ulrica Griffiths, formerly Lego’s head of PR for central Europe, and head of PR for Mattel Interactive in Germany, and former Teneo MD Oliver Parry as a senior partner in the UK financial services team. 

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Finn’s thought leadership over the year included the Purpose Alignment Index, a diagnostic tool helping brands understand how their product and purpose align with consumer purchasing decisions across different industries. Another key initiative is the FIDO Scorecard Methodology, which assesses the positioning of nations from economic and FDI perspectives, informing strategic communications. The agency has also launched an internal AI Working Group, collaborating with clients to use AI for ethical and societal advancements. Standout work included the provocative ‘Russian War Crimes House’ in Davos for The Victor Pinchuk Foundation, which is focused on rebuilding Ukraine, and the “Russian War Crimes Exhibition” in Brussels, New York, London and Berlin. For St. Helena Tourism, after pandemic challenges, Finn spotlighted the island's reopening with Jonathan the tortoise's 190th birthday, garnering 250+ global media pieces and extensive social media engagement.  Its April Fool’s prank, the ‘Fish & Chips Pizza’ for Little Caesar’s generated substantial buzz for the chain’s UK launch, and as the lead global agency for The World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards, Finn secured nearly 13,000 global media pieces and managed events in multiple countries, earning the agency reappointment for the fourth consecutive year. 

Maja Pawinska Sims

Havas Red (Havas)

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Havas Group first consolidated its global PR and communications businesses under the Havas Red brand in 2019 (although it was known as Red Havas until last year), but 2023 was arguably the first year that its UK and European micro-network felt like it had a crystal-clear identity, purpose and direction. This was at least partly thanks to the leadership of new Europe CEO Rachael Sansom, who was promoted into the new regional role from UK CEO last October and is a force to be reckoned with, having now led the agency's expansion into 16 markets worldwide. Havas Red’s ‘merged media’ model brings together traditional and digital publishing, content, social media and data, closes the gap between corporate and consumer communications, and takes a borderless approach that transcends countries, audiences, channels and formats. In 2023, Havas Red introduced a new global influencer marketing offer, Sway, which followed the 2022 introduction of ESG and sustainability practice Red Impact. Other global offerings include Health by Havas Red, which focuses on health and wellness, and Red Connect, a B2B content marketing practice. 

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Havas Red has 23 offices worldwide and six in Europe: Paris, Hamburg, Milan, Madrid, London and Manchester. It also has three Middle East offices in Dubai, Oman and Saudi Arabia, and last year expanded to South Africa. This year it plans to expand its European network further, to Norway, Czechia and Greece.

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The agency’s EMEA revenue grew by 33% in 2023, with overall public relations fee income across the region of $25.2m, representing 45% of the agency’s global income. New business wins in 2023 included big names like Novo Nordisk in the health sector; consumer wins such as The Macallan, Ferrero, Pernod Ricard and Danone; tourism brands like Get Your Guide and Dubai Corporation for Tourism & Commerce Marketing. Havas Red also saw organic growth with global clients such as LinkedIn, American Express, Badoo, Galderma and the U.K. Department of Education. Its top 10 clients in EMEA include AMEX, Huawei, Jaguar Land Rover, Linkedin, Manpower Group, Molson Coors and Reckitt. 

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Havas Red introduced a new regional structure for Europe last year; as well as Sansom’s elevation, noteworthy promotions and appointments included Europe and UK executive creative director Andrew Stevens, Claire Davies as head of strategy and planning in the UK, Anna Thomson as managing partner in the UK, Christiane Bruszis as Germany MD and Carel Scheepers as head of South Africa. Havas Red has a vibrant culture that is nurtured through annual Red Retreats, regular Red Refreshes, and IncREDible Work Awards. The agency provides access to mental health programs and helplines, and offers a ‘work-from-anywhere’ initiative. Talent development includes the Red Talent Factory, the Havas University platform, Red Mentoring, a Core Leadership management programme and the Future Leaders Group. Dedicated DEI representatives lead initiatives such as ‘DEI Top or Flop’ in Germany, promoting awareness and responsibility in advertising. 

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Thought leadership included the annual Red Sky Predictions report, weekly emails to clients about latest trends, monthly corporate comms landscape analyses and a white paper tackling how brands can play a more progressive and positive role in society. A monthly podcast, Red Sky Fuel for Thought, has more than 2,000 subscribers. Havas Red won a Cannes Lions for its work with Adidas in the Middle East, and standout work in 2023 included the two-time SABRE shortlisted ‘Giving Type’ campaign for NHS National Blood Week, which led to more than 10,000 new registrations to donate blood in one week alone, with new registrations by Black donors – a key target for the campaign –up by 153%. 

Maja Pawinska Sims

Porter Novelli (Omnicom PR Group)

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It’s been a while since Porter Novelli showed up in our EMEA agency of the year shortlists, but the quietest and smallest of the Omnicom networks certainly deserves its place this year. With a strong female leadership team headed by EMEA MD and chair Fen Grey and EVP Sarah Shilling – not to mention new global CEO Jillian Janaczek – the midsize agency stepped out of the shadows in 2023 and supercharged its business with a new Connected Core proposition. Developed in Europe and being rolled out globally, this ‘borderless talent’ model allows the agency to respond nimbly to evolving client needs with bespoke teams from across the region. This was a conscious decision to go into ‘start-up mode’ and make the agency easier to buy, which meant Porter Novelli is now showing up on pitch lists – and winning – where it would never have been in the running a couple of years ago. In 2023 Porter Novelli expanded its strategic services team and put technology at the heart of data and analytics, insights and strategy, creative and production, influencer and earned, paid and platforms. It also changed its approach by democratising creativity, codifying new language and techniques so everyone in the agency – not just the creative team – feels empowered to think laterally. 

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Porter Novelli has a presence in all major EMEA markets, and its Connected Core model is now active in the UK France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey, Dubai and Kenya, as well as in Singapore, Japan, Korea, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Canada and the US.

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After a steep growth trajectory of 40% fee increase over two consecutive years, 2023 was about re-investment. In the UK, Porter Novelli maintained £10m fee income with a team of 74 as the new model and approaches bedded in, while still improving margins and with staff retention of 81% and 80% client retention. New work came from the likes of Burberry and Rhodes Trust, as well as with Nivea, Unilever, Merck and Kyowa Kirin; healthcare now represents just over half of all the agency’s fees. The Connected Core model was critical to the agency becoming agency of record for Goodyear, and also drove growth from the CFA Institute, Iron Mountain and Unilever.

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Last year, Porter Novelli renewed its focus on learning and development, inclusion and belonging. It brought in a DEIB counsellor to challenge the agency on its strategies, transformed its approach to inclusive recruitment and to supporting talent, and introduced the ‘Belonging Collective’, which culminated in selection as a Sunday Times Best Place to Work. The agency measures progress through engagement surveys, DEIB census, peer sessions and an anonymous Ideas Box. The staff survey showed 90% feel respected, 83% feel cared for by managers, and 82% would recommend PN as a great workplace. The agency’s goals include increasing representation of people of colour to 30% by 2026; it is currently at 24%, with no gender or ethnicity pay gap. Representation improved across neurodiversity, gender, and sexuality. Porter Novelli collaborates with organisations including Black Young Professionals Network and supports TheValuable500 initiative. Mental health support includes a £385 wellness allowance, mental health first aiders, and access to counselling and resources. It also runs an apprenticeship scheme, has introduced a menopause policy, and offers grants for personal and professional development. 

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Porter Novelli revamped its approach to data with the Map/Move/Measure methodology to align teams with audiences, and this has attracted clients such as Chanel and PepsiLipton. Through Omnicom’s omniearnedID platform, the agency tracked client sales and reputation and demonstrated the impact of influencers. Its Studio created a quarterly report, 'Igniting Impact, Accelerating Sustainability', focused on the Cannes, Anthropy and COP events, which garnered over 5m impressions and fostered partnerships with Burberry and Nest. Standout work included the Beyond Burberry ESG Strategy, resulting in an 80% improvement in understanding among employees. Temporary car insurance firm Jaunt saw increased awareness and sales through an integrated campaign, with unprompted awareness rising by 42% and a sales uplift of 12.86%. The agency also helped Rhodes Trust reinforce its commitment to diversity, Amgen to reenergize employees, and Bayer to engage the pharma sector. 

Maja Pawinska Sims

SEC Newgate (Investcorp)

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Technically, SEC Newgate is less than five years old, dating to September 2019 when Italian firm SEC merged with Newgate’s holding company Porta. But SEC’s roots stretch back to its founding in Italy 30 years ago, while Newgate itself has been around for more than a decade. And there has been a sustained burst of activity since the merger, including an acquisition spree that has most recently added Wepublic in the Netherlands and V+O Group in Southeastern Europe. In 2023, the firm welcomed $100m in new investment from Investcorp, with focus on expansion in EMEA and Asia-Pacific. All of which adds up to a firm with considerable depth across corporate, public affairs, financial and crisis.

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Headquartered in Milan, SEC Newgate’s 1,300 strong employee footprint spans 54 offices across five continents.

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SEC Newgate’s overall revenues were effectively flat at $196m in 2023, but public affairs fee income improved to account for 31% of this total in EMEA. Key clients include a range of institutional and corporate players, such as DHL, the Green Finance Institute, Disney. Expedia, Newell, Sodexo, Amazon Logistics, Nestle, Bayer, Airbnb and Westport Fuels. There was also new business in 2023 from Skanska, Strabag and Leaseplan (CEE), Ecolab, Lavazza, and Uber (EU), Caisse d’Epargne, Haffner Energy and Keolis (France), and Currencies Direct, Sir Robert McAlpine and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club (UK). 

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In addition to group CEO Fiorenzo Tagliabue, key leaders included UK CEO and Western EMEA head Emma Kane, Eastern EMEA head Sebastian Hejnowski, Italy GM Paola Ambrosino, and France president Eric Giuily — reflecting a considerable level of industry pedigree. A majority of staff (58%) are female, and 21% identify as BIPOC, while a focus on DEI means that women hold 53% of leadership positions, while 11% are held by BIPOC execs. SEC Newgate UK became a B-Corp in 2023, while Italy has confirmed its status as a Benefit company. The agency has adopted flexible working practices across all its EMEA agencies, underpinning a low turnover rate and supplemented by agency-wide and leadership-specific off-site days for team building and vision shaping.

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The firm’s annual ESG Monitor continues to impress, surveying 12,000 citizens across 12 countries, while there are also various public affairs intelligence tools developed by new acquisition Wepublic. 2023 also saw the third version of the TRUE AI and data project that aims to analyse and measure reputation in partnership with key universities. Campaign highlights include the crucial effort to preserve Polish TV channel TVN’s independence, along with significant public affairs initiatives for Italian energy companies; Cérémé’s efforts to revive nuclear power in France; Ecolab’s successful attempt to put water resilience on the EU agenda; and the Brentford Project for Ballymore in the UK.

Arun Sudhaman