PRWeek's Top 150 ones to watch

Here's a look at the agencies PRWeek thinks are on the up.

3x1 Public Relations

Top 150 rank 119 Fee income £1,501,000 Growth 48% Staff 16 Staff growth 33%

In 2011, 3x1 lured back three clients, relocated to Edinburgh and purchased a controlling interest in PR firm McGarvie Morrison Media (MMM).

Director Cameron Grant says the acquisition has allowed the b2b and consumer-focused agency to 'complete the loop' by offering public affairs, corporate PR and media training.

The Scottish agency has held the Highland Spring and Lees Foods accounts since it was founded in 2001, and three former clients - Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, Baxters Foods Group and Seafish - returned to 3x1 from London agencies this year.

These wins were key to the agency's 48 per cent growth in fee income.

3x1 moved from Glasgow to Edinburgh in July after taking on four recruits from MMM.

At a glance

Key clients Highland Spring Group, Lothian Buses and, with MMM acquisition, Diageo and Atos
Significant hires Sarah Howden, former journalist/PR consultant, as account director; Pamela McDade, formerly at Holyrood Partnership, as account director; Lindsay McGarvie, founder/director of MMM and a former Sunday Mail political editor
Plans for the year ahead Further acquisitions
Predicted fee income for 2012 £1.65m

JTA

Top 150 rank 136 Fee income £1,275,000 Growth 45% Staff 12 Staff growth 71%

For founder Jon Tibbs, leading a young, sports-focused agency in the build-up to the biggest sporting event in the world - the Olympic Games - meant 2011 had to be a good year.

'We said if we can't make a big success of the build-up to the 2012 Olympics, we would never make it,' he says, 'but we didn't realise growth would be as large and fast as it has been.'

Though JTA has no formal links with the Olympic organisers, it has been making the most of the summer's games and the opportunities offered to clients. It has secured work with the Sochi Winter Olympics 2014 team, an event it has used as a springboard into the Russian market.

And though Munich's failed bid for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games was a low point, helping London win the IAAF World Athletics Championships for 2017 was a highlight. The agency also scored a comms contract with Manchester United early in the year.

At a glance

Key clients Manchester United, Sochi 2014, Bosco
Significant hires Promoting Severine Hubert to MD from international relations director
Plans for the year ahead Use the 2012 Olympics as a springboard and find a permanent London office
Predicted fee income for 2012 £1.4m

PLMR

Top 150 rank 132 Fee income £1,295,000 Growth 58% Staff 19 Staff growth 46%

In its sixth year, PLMR (Political Lobbying & Media Relations) experienced a 58 per cent growth in fee income.

The agency ascribes its growth to a restructure that split staff into three teams, each headed by an account director, and with each member of staff having their own £1,000 personal training budget.

While the agency's heartland has been health and social care, PLMR is now attracting clients from the charity and tech arenas. 'There is a growing trend for public affairs and PR to be done under one roof,' says account director Christopher Calland.

Highlights for the agency in 2011 included the launch of HC-One, the care home company that has taken over the former Southern Cross homes, and marking 12 months working for The Enemy Within, a three-year campaign for Combat Stress.

The agency also handled a campaign for the Ministry of Sound, opposing the proposed construction of luxury flats next door to the nightclub.

At a glance

Key clients Ministry of Sound, Aeternum, Bio Industry Association
Significant hires Senior account manager Lisa Bailey and eight account executives
Plans for the year ahead Move to bigger premises; grow steadily
Predicted fee income for 2012 £1.5m

WCG

Top 150 rank 87 Fee income £2,011,000 Growth 116% Staff 15 Staff growth 150%

WCG global MD Gail Cohen describes 2011 as a 'full-on' year in which the healthcare agency's London office gathered 'huge momentum'. With fee growth of 116 per cent and staff growth of 150 per cent, these statements are by no means exaggerations.

Cohen puts its success down to an integrated approach for healthcare comms. Traditional comms, issue management, content creation and online services are part of every campaign.

Clients also appreciate the agency's focus on data and analytics. 'We use them to plan campaigns, not as a post-mortem,' she says.

She adds: 'Organic growth has been massive and because we are independent we can be competitive and flexible when it comes to our prices.'

Plans for 2012 include continuing to invest in digital services, remaining competitive and staying positive.

At a glance

Key clients Bayer, BMS, GHI, Merck Serono, Pfizer, ViroPharma
Significant hires Director Manu Field from Chandler Chicco Agency; director Sabrina Gomersall from Ogilvy Healthworld; group director Danielle Whitney on secondment from Merck Serono
Plans for the year ahead Grow talent; expand across clients' brands
Predicted fee income for 2012 £3.1m

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