Selected on the basis of their submissions to our annual Agency Report Card, our Specialist Agencies of the Year will be honored at the annual SABRE dinner, held this year at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York. 

Consumer Agency of the Year: Zeno Group

Zeno Group has more doubled in size in the US since Barby Siegel took over as chief executive three years ago, and in 2012 it added international operations, opening European office in London and Amsterdam and an Asian hub. Growth over the past 12 months was close to 50 percent—it ended the year with more than $20 million in fees—and there were new clients across four core practice areas (consumer, corporate, health and technology) including Allergan, Bausch & Lomb, Kmart, McAfee and Pinkberry. The firm also added senior talent, recruiting John Hollywood from Cohn & Wolfe to lead consumer and industry veteran Ame Wadler to lead healthcare. But perhaps the most important achievement it carving out a distinctly different personality, based on its “fearless” positioning, from parent Edelman, evidenced by its outstanding creative work for clients such as Pizza Hut and Four Seasons.—PH

Honorable mentions: Catalyst, DeVries, Marina Maher Communications, PMK*BNC

Corporate Agency of the Year: Prosek Partners

It was a busy year for Prosek Partners, which changed its name (from CJP Communications), opened a wholly-owned London office, made an impression in the hypercompetitive mergers and acquisition arena (ranked 11th in the US by volume of deals and by value of deals, according to mergermarket) and grew by 20 percent to end the year with fees of $15 million and a place among the top 25 independent in the US. The firm, which is best known for its work in the financial and professional services arena, works for big corporate names such as GE Capital, RBS, Lloyd’s, Edward Jones, OppenheimerFunds, Franklin Templeton and ING and picked up new assignments from RBC and Genworth as well as working on a high-profile crisis assignment for Dow Jones.—PH

Honorable mentions: Dix & Eaton, Gagen MacDonald, Sloane & Company, Widmeyer Communications

Creative Agency of the Year: Carmichael Lynch Spong

With 57 Silver Anvils and 21 SABREs to its name, no midsize public relations agency has won more major awards over the years than Carmichael Lynch Spong—which makes it a little strange that the firm had never won our Creative Agency of the Year award until now. But its three Silver SABREs (a guerrilla marketing effort for Save-a-Lot, a Twinkie-themed publicity stunt for Supervalu and Jewel-Osco, and photographic work for Merrick Pet Care signaled an especially good year for the firm, as did four Gold SABRE nominations. That kind of work has helped CLS retain its large, seven-figure clients over a long period of time: Sherwin-Williams, Supervalu, DSM, Jack Link’s, Trane, American Standard and Rapala have all called CLS agency of record from eight to 21 years. And new business in 2012 came from Tempur-Pedic, Merrick, and First Bankcard.—PH

Honorable mentions: Coyne PR, Exponent, Ketchum, RF Binder

Financial Agency of the Year: Sard Verbinnen

In 2012, Sard Verbinnen was recognized as the number one M&A PR advisor in terms of both value and volume of deals in the United States by mergermarket, and continued to be one of the leaders in crisis communications and litigation support, investor relations, and corporate positioning work. Highlights included advising Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile on the contested pending acquisition of MetroPCS; McGraw-Hill on the DOJ lawsuit against Standard & Poors; NYSE Euronext on its pending acquisition by ICE; Forest Laboratories on its successful proxy defense against Carl Icahn; and Alibaba Group on the privatization of—PH

Honorable mentions: Abernathy MacGregor, Brunswick, Joele Frank Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher, Kekst and Company

Digital Agency of the Year: W2O Group

Long before “big data’ became one of the most fashionable terms in the public relations lexicon, W2O was investing in the kind of resources that could establish it as a leader in the space. That investment continued apace in 2012, acquiring Mettle Consulting in the UK to build analytics products and offerings focused on reputation, trust and governance, and Ravel in the US to deliver a combination of historical information and real-time insights to clients; creating MDigital Life to help understand how physicians are using social media to improve patient health; and launching W2O Group/Newhouse Center for Social Commerce in partnership with Syracuse University to build on the social commerce leadership of founder Jim Weiss and social media guru Bob Pearson.—PH

Honorable mentions: M Booth, Edelman, Grow, Social@Ogilvy

Healthcare Agency of the Year: Weber Shandwick

In the 21st century, it is no longer enough for a healthcare public relations firm to have a large roster of big pharma clients, and no firm has done a better job of diversifying its portfolio than Weber Shandwick. Under the leadership of Laura Schoen, its global health practice has a strong portfolio of clients in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, consumer health, medical devices, health IT, insurance, professional associations, health systems and hospitals, with major new assignments in 2012 including the high-profile Health & Human Services Department 'Obamacare' brief, Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and Brigham & Women’s Hospital, and growth from existing clients such as Novartis and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Perhaps most impressive, however, was the launch of Element, a new scientific communications specialty that draws on MDs, PhDs, MSs and other scientific experts across the Weber Shandwick network.—PH

Honorable mentions: Biosector 2, Cohn & Wolfe, Dodge Communications, GCI Health, ReviveHealth

Public Affairs Agency of the Year: Singer Associates

Having established itself as the go-to public affairs shop in Northern California, Singer Associates continued its high-profile streak of business in 2012 with clients that include the City of San Bruno as it fought to collect $70 million in damages from PG&E for a 2010 natural gas explosion. Last year, the agency grew 15 percent, pulling nearly $5 million in revenue with only 12 full-time staff. Among its new clients were the City of Los Angeles, AirBnB, Hilton Hotels and Safeway, adding to its existing base that includes Chevron, Calpine, Bay Area Rapid Transit and the City of Oakland. - AAS

Honorable mentions: Burson-Marsteller, Fleishman-Hillard, Global Strategy Group, Ogilvy Government Relations    

Technology Agency of the Year: The OutCast Agency

More than two years after its founders Margit Wennmachers and Caryn Marooney departed the firm, OutCast remains among the most respected -- and sought after -- tech agencies. Under the leadership of new CEO Alex Constantinople, the agency has retained a high-profile client portfolio that includes Facebook, Amazon, Box, Zynga, Andreesen Horowitz, Spotify, Dolby, and Pinterest. OutCast continues to assemble an all-star roster that is diversified beyond pure tech players with additions, such as, L’Oreal, GE and Sephora. With revenues of $18.7 million generated by 90 employees primarily in San Francisco and New York, the agency is well-placed, especially as it makes investments in creative services and brand/integrated marketing this year. - AAS

Honorable Mentions: SparkPR, Edelman, Waggener Edstrom, Access Communications