Technology: Top 40 Technology Consultancies

Increasingly tech-savvy consumers mean many tech PR agencies have seen double-digit growth, report Sara Luker and Nadirah Kaba.

In 2010, tech PR agencies benefited from the brands they represent becoming increasingly mainstream. Seven out of the top ten agencies in PRWeek's Top 40 Technology Consultancies table grew by more than ten per cent in 2010.

For the third consecutive year, Edelman secured the top spot. It increased its tech fee income by 16 per cent in 2010, up from growth of five per cent in 2009.

Hotwire Group and Brands2Life also performed well, retaining second and third positions respectively.

Bite Communications, which did not enter the tables last year, has re-entered in fourth place.

Further down the table, notable fee increases included 23 per cent for Octopus Communications Group, 91 per cent for 3 Monkeys Communications and 34 per cent for Merlin PR.

But the table does not just show success stories. Citigate Dewe Rogerson fell from fifth to 11th place and registered a tech fee income drop of 29 per cent.

Grayling also saw tech income drop by 37 per cent.

Hotwire CEO Brendon Craigie believes that overall, tech PR agencies are benefiting from an increasingly tech-savvy society.

'The consumerisation of IT and the blurring of b2b and b2c marketing mean that even the most challenging technology concepts are now becoming part of the mainstream debate,' he says.

Like other sectors, social media have been a major focus for most tech agencies. Craigie says this allows agencies to grow organically, by adding social media to briefs.

He adds: 'Our digital capacity has created an organic route to diversification from pure technology. While the bulk of our business is still technology-related, this has allowed us to develop client relationships with brands in retail, financial services, media and food.'

Meanwhile Edelman's European MD Jonathan Hargreaves says that in the past six months, the digital space has developed from brands talking to consumers on social networks, to brands talking to b2b networks on platforms such as LinkedIn.

With the consumerisation of technology showing no signs of slowing, 2011 looks set to be an interesting year for tech PR agencies.

Rank in Consultancy name/ Technology fee % Total PR %total Staff
Top 150 Location income (pounds k) chg income 10 PR
2010 2009 (pounds k) income

1 5 Edelman 7,657 6,594 16 28,777 27 298
London
2 32 Hotwire Group 6,501 5,740 13 6,501 100 70
London
3 33 Brands2Life 6,386 5,587 14 6,386 100 67
London
4 44 Bite 4,495 NE 4,732 95 53
Communications
London
5 38 Nelson Bostock 3,239 2,868 13 5,600 58 64
Group*
London
6 62 The Whiteoaks 3,184 2,640 21 3,184 100 36
Consultancy
Surrey
7 51 Octopus 2,862 2,328 23 3,837 75 38
Communications
Group
Berks
8 61 Waggener Edstrom 2,250 2,211 2 3,247 69 40
London
9 17 The Red 2,113 1,996 6 11,930 18 152
Consultancy
London
10 64 Speed 1,908 1,723 11 3,108 61 36
London
11 13 Citigate 1,882 2,664 -29 17,207 11 111
Dewe Rogerson
London
12 88 Mi liberty 1,856 1,782 4 1,856 100 16
London
13 99 Pinnacle Marketing 1,710 1,610 6 1,710 100 15
Communications
Middlesex
14 101 Johnson King 1,638 NE 1,638 100 25
London
15 112 The ITPR Group 1,378 NE 1,378 100 18
Surrey
16 113 The Reptile Grp** 1,256 1,066 18 1,365 92 18
London
17 41 3 Monkeys 1,111 581 91 5,187 21 54
Communications
London
18 135 Spark 976 952 3 976 100 10
Communications
London
19 142 Platform PR 906 NE 906 100 8
London
20 147 Red Lorry 835 643 30 835 100 11
Yellow Lorry
London
21 150 Eskenzi PR 812 NE 812 100 7
London
22 N/A Marlin PR 706 526 34 706 100 11
London
23 90 Kaizo 700 617 13 1,833 38 18
London
24 N/A Proof Communication 680 NE 680 100 8
London
25 N/A Touchdown PR 665 NE 665 100 10
Surrey
26 N/A Champion 656 NE 656 100 10
Communications
London
27 12 Grayling 635 1,008 -37 17,421 3 228
London
28 N/A Napier Partnership 618 625 -1 618 100 11
W Sussex
29 N/A BondPR 460 NE 717 64 4
London
30 N/A Atomic PR 440 NE 498 88 5
London
31 N/A Wolfstar 405 290 40 728 56 11
Consultancy
Leeds
32 119 Say Communications 394 373 6 1,276 31 16
London
33 116 Paratus 372 NE 1,310 28 11
Communications
London
34 74 MC2 369 389 -5 2,633 14 35
Manchester
35 N/A GBCS PR*** 314 NE 608 46 18
Nottingham
36 72 Citypress 303 253 20 2,751 11 35
Manchester
37 143 Admiral PR 300 165 82 895 34 10
London
38 136 Rostrum 233 NE 969 24 8
Communications
London
39 N/A CubanEight 228 NE 285 80 4
Oxon
40 N/A iseepr 220 190 16 234 92 4
W Yorkshire

Fee income is defined as PR fees plus any mark up. Figures from 1 Jan-31
Dec 2010 rounded up to nearest £1,000
* Incorporating Fever PR, Things With Wings and Nelson Bostock
Communications
** Incorporating Chameleon and Komodo
*** Trading as BCS Public Relations
NE = New entry

91% - increase in 3 Monkeys' tech PR fee income

30% - increase in Red Lorry Yellow Lorry's tech PR fee income

16% - increase in Edelman's tech PR fee income.

EDELMAN 1

Tech fee income: £7,657k

Growth: 16%

- What were the trends in the tech PR sector in the past 12 months?

It was absolutely social media within the consumer space, reaching out to a consumer audience. In the past six months we've also seen this begin to happen in b2b communities where they are using platforms such as LinkedIn.

- What is the market like now?

Budgets are still being looked at extremely closely, but our big clients are tending to shift their money from advertising to PR. We have suddenly got bigger remits to work with because of social media.

- What kind of work do clients want?

The big new area is 'influentials'. We're talking to a much broader audience than our traditional remit. We launched a tool - TweetLevel - that measures how influential someone is on Twitter, and we have a similar tool for blogs. The idea is to measure how influential a person is and what they are talking about. This means we can compare influence on different social media platforms.

- What will happen in tech PR in the next 12 months?

We will see the idea of 'influentials' taking on a strategic role. PR and communications will become structured around the idea of social media and this will change people's roles from being purely comms to organising and managing their interactions with the outside world.

Jonathan Hargreaves, European MD

2010 AT A GLANCE

High points: We've begun to be taken very seriously by senior management and are seen as a tier one supplier by our big accounts.

Low points: Keeping people within the organisation and giving them a view of where we're going next is hard when there's not a clear path.

Key client wins: Adobe, Palm and HP graphics.

Best hires: Gerry Wisniewski, senior VP, and Christope Ginisty, executive VP.

Strategy for 2011: Make sure everyone understands the direction and the broader spectrum of the business. Develop more tools to evaluate social media.

Predicted tech fee income for 2011: £7.6m

THE WHITEOAKS CONSULTANCY 6

Tech fee income: £3,184k

Growth: 21%

- What were the trends in the tech PR sector in the past 12 months?

Top of the list was a demand from clients to see a much more tangible return on investment. During challenging economic times, PROs have to be transparent about the value we offer our clients and their ROI.

- What is the market like now?

Budgets are certainly becoming more robust. However, there is a greater demand for agencies to demonstrate transparency in terms of the work they will deliver, and the results they will achieve and, importantly, how those PR results support sales. Across the board there is a return of confidence, budgets are becoming available, but you have to be able to demonstrate value and return on investment.

- What kind of work do clients want?

Social media and digital have become more prominent. Clients understand there are other ways to engage with an audience rather than traditional media channels. The opportunity for PR is to broaden its scope, as long as we can define the end audience and what we want to communicate.

- What will happen in tech PR in the next 12 months?

I think we will see agencies broadening their offerings to include anything around digital and social media. Its nature is that it will develop over time, so we can't identify how this will be used yet, but there are bound to be new technologies still to be identified.

James Kelliher, MD

2010 AT A GLANCE

High points: We broke through the £3m fee barrier, which has been a long-term aim, increased staff by 20 per cent and opened a second office to accommodate that.

Low points: The amount of time and money we've had to spend finding good people of the right quality and calibre has been a real challenge.

Key client wins: Teradata, Honeywell Life Safety Systems and Bull.

Best hires: James Farquharson as associate director.

Strategy for 2011: Repositioning in terms of the breadth and types of services we can offer.

Predicted fee income for 2011: £3.8m

3 MONKEYS 17

Tech fee income: £1,111k

Growth: 91%

- What were the trends in the tech PR sector in the past 12 months?

The tech sector is waking up to the fact it needs to be creative and more lifestyle and issues-led to get beyond the core tech trendsetting audiences. On the corporate and b2b side, there has been a spate of major IT security issues; this has driven more thought leadership, as well as growth in the need for crisis and issues management PR. Cloud computing continues to be a battle ground for tech players on what it means and why businesses and, indeed, consumers, should care.

- What is the market like now?

The technology sector appears to have done well through the recession, driven in part by new categories such as the smartphone and 3D televisions. On the b2b side of things, I think that some companies are under pressure, but we have grown that part of our business significantly in the first half of 2011. Consumer technology is the biggest growth sector.

- What kind of work do clients want?

More creative, brand centric, integrated campaigns, with social media red dyed throughout.

- What will happen in tech PR in the next 12 months?

The battle for social media is being won more by the PR industry.

This is a carpe diem moment for all of us if we can get our social shit together.

Angie Moxham, CEO and founder

2010 AT A GLANCE

High points: Launches - Internet Explorer 9 in Beta with Gorillaz, Windows Phone 7 with Stephen Fry.

Low points: A perception sometimes that 3 Monkeys doesn't do tech or b2b tech PR.

Key client wins: Getronics, Living Social, Thus and Demon.

Best hires: Steve Douthwaite, senior account director.

Strategy for 2011: To build our content creation capabilities since it's essential that we bring our clients' brands and stories to life with visually rich and engaging collateral.

Predicted fee income for 2011: £2.1 to 2.5m.

RED LORRY YELLOW LORRY 20

Tech fee income: £835k

Growth: 30%

- What were the trends in the tech PR sector in the past 12 months?

The trend towards video and mobile content continues to grow as clients look to reach audiences beyond print. Tech platforms are being applied to different industries so our job is becoming increasingly broad.

- What is the market like now?

Clients are always conscious of spending, but our sense is that we are through the worst of the recession. Technology that may have taken months, if not years, to develop will be brought to market regardless of the economic times. Our challenge is to prove that PR is a core marketing activity that drives measurable results.

- What kind of work do clients want?

PR is changing and the digital world has produced both challenges and huge opportunities. Clients are asking us to get involved in developing a broad strategy for their comms beyond traditional media relations. Our opportunity is to carve a larger slice of the marketing mix. Our clients are increasingly asking us to help them integrate their comms into co-ordinated, focused campaigns that can be localised and rolled out worldwide.

- What will happen in tech PR in the next 12 months?

Technology is enabling consumers and businesses to interact and access content via mobile and online as well as on a television, cinema screen or network. Regardless of the type of content, it has to be created, stored and managed securely and delivered, and technologies and industries are converging as a result.

Guy Walsingham, Director

2010 AT A GLANCE

High points: Digital/social media have enabled us to work strategically across a broader range of our customers' comms. Business confidence is returning.

Low points: Building a measurable business case for social media. The industry hasn't quite got this right and it's difficult to establish ROI.

Key client wins: Avid Technology, IronKey, Foehn.

Best hires: Interns Helen Smith and Laura O'Brien.

Strategy for 2011: To look after the clients we have. To win new business in the sectors that we know well where we can add true value. To build on our experience in brand comms and PR to offer our clients an integrated campaign.

Predicted fee income for 2011: £1m (growth of 30 per cent).

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