TOP 50: HI-TECH PR - Off the rails? The hi-tech sector has provided a stomach-churning ride for many firms since the beginning of last yea Now, with the dot.com hangover at its height.

Seldom has a sector changed so rapidly as hi-tech since the start

of 2000. First, the dot.com bubble burst as investors finally woke up to

the fact that many e-commerce ventures had unrealistic ambitions, were

built on shaky business plans and were unlikely ever to turn in a

profit.



As venture capital reserves were eaten up, and new funding became ever

harder to come by as investors ran scared, numerous dot.coms found

themselves in the unsustainable situation of bearing costs that exceeded

their revenues.



For some it meant ruin; for others a withdrawal from the marketplace;

for others still, brutal downscaling, with lay-offs and slashed

marketing budgets. For their PR agencies it entailed the sudden loss of

a client, or at best a scaling down in their communications spend.



Yet while some PR agencies suffered, seeing revenues fall due to dot.com

over exposure, the hi-tech league table shows that 2000 was a year when

many agencies registered tremendous fee income growth. For much of the

year it appeared that the malaise was confined to the

business-to-consumer (B2C) dot.coms, and there was logic as to why a

downturn should be so circumscribed.



After all, only a handful of dot.coms had business models offered

something groundbreaking. For the majority, the only substantial

difference between themselves and bricks and mortar retailers was that

the web was their main channel to market. Why should the travails of

such e-tailers have any bearing on the broader technology market?



Initially, the technology sector per se remained immune to the dot.com

shakeout. Hardware, software, infrastructure and IT services companies

continued expanding, with customer demand for their product

unabated.



It meant plenty of opportunity for PR consultancies with hi-tech

expertise.



But autumn last year was heralded by a chill wind blowing in from across

the Atlantic. Almost overnight, sentiment in the US, the world's

dominant technology market, shifted dramatically. Concern and caution

replaced optimism and aggressive expansion. Clients began freezing

budgets, mass redundancies were announced, technology stocks

plummeted.



Briefly it looked as if things might not get as bad in the UK. But this

was a vain hope. All that happened was that it took a little longer to

really take root in the UK and the rest of Europe. And it has not made

for pleasant viewing.



'Parts of the market are going through absolute carnage at the moment,'

says Firefly director Mark Mellor. 'We've had a number of clients fall

by the wayside. We have had three in receivership and we expect

more.'



'2000 will go down as a technology PR boom year,' says ITPR Group

chairman Bob Dearsley. 'However, 2001 will be a technology PR bomb year

for many unless they have been prudent with their choice of client.

Biting the arm off too many dot.coms who offered them business on a

plate will leave some PR companies with pretty severe indigestion in the

form of bad debts to come.'



Marconi's highly public difficulties, which led to the temporary

suspension of trading in its shares in July ahead of a profit warning,

illustrate that the telecoms side of the IT world is also less buoyant

than has been the case. Matters have not been helped by the huge amounts

some telecoms companies forked out to secure third generation (3G)

mobile licences across Europe.



Many, BT notably included, have been saddled with huge debts, which have

led them to focus on cost-cutting, sometimes to the detriment of their

marketing communications activity.



The Holway Report on the year 2000, produced for leading technology

sector analyst Ovum, indicates all too clearly a slowdown in revenue

growth.



Analysis of the financial performance of over 2,000 software and IT

services companies operating in the UK found revenue growth down from 25

per cent in 1998 to 9.5 per cent in 2000 - the first time growth has

been below ten per cent since the recession of the early 1990s.



There are still grounds for being positive, however. The B2B technology

market is in general fairing better than B2C - and businesses will

always need to buy hardware and software and to invest in their systems

in order to gain competitive advantage.



'UK companies have invested billions of pounds in technology to support

their businesses over the past couple of years,' says Text 100 UK

managing director Glen Goldsmith. 'Indeed, some have built their entire

businesses on technology - they've become dependent and can't just turn

the taps off overnight to save a few quid. So we must assume that the

technology sector will not experience recession, just a slowdown and

perhaps a welcome re-think about how it does business.'



Among some of the global technology giants the re-thinking process has

led to them consolidating their business into a single global

agency.



Firefly has been the victim of consolidation of this kind twice

recently, with former clients Liberate Technologies and Entrust both

taking the decision from their US headquarters to go for a global

agency.



There can be no argument that hi-tech is becoming more international,

pretty much by the day. While this plays into the hands of the big owned

networks, many of the mid-sized independents are fighting back by either

opening wholly-owned offices in mainland Europe, or by strengthening

their affiliate networks; Lewis, Johnson King and AxiCom - which has

recently opened an AxiCom Spain office in Madrid - are three agencies

that undertook these measures last year.



A third way has been mapped out by Banner Corporation, which has

recruited foreign market experts to work out of its Chelsea

headquarters. Banner had expected this set-up to appeal to smaller

companies without the resources to hire pan-European agency support, but

at a time of severe pressure on clients' budgets, blue chips such as GE

and Cisco have made use of it.



The growing influence of technology analysts on IT procurement - one

figure bandied about is that analysts influence 40 per cent of corporate

IT purchases - has led several hi-tech PR agencies to establish

specialist analyst relations teams to help clients influence the

business consultants and report authors at the likes of Ovum, Gartner

Group and IDC. Chime Online, which set up Insight Marketing and

Communications, and Brodeur Worldwide, which established its own

specialist technology analyst relations team, are two such agencies to

embark on this initiative.



Increasingly, journalists covering technology stories turn to analysts

for information and insight.



Perhaps the best news for agencies in these tougher market conditions is

that one of the biggest problems they faced last year has eased

somewhat.



Namely, a shortage of skilled staff. More CVs are circulating and the

upward pressure on salaries is abating as the balance of power moves

back in favour of employers.



Clearly, the supply and demand equation has altered so far as clients

and agencies are concerned. Not so long ago the best agencies were

cherry-picking the clients they wanted and fees were escalating. Now

clients have the whip hand and a tighter grasp on the purse strings.

While many agencies still expect to grow revenues this year, only a few

are likely to post big increases.



This cocktail of harsh reality and frugality has had an effect on agency

valuations, too. As Lewis chief executive Chris Lewis points out: 'It

has become a lot easier to acquire companies. Purchase prices have

tumbled.' For those agencies with cash in the bank or backers with deep

pockets, the coming year may be a good time to make acquisitions.



What else may happen? Well, even in harder times innovation is sure to

continue; that is the nature of the hi-tech. 3G, despite its crippling

cost to the telecom company licence buyers, should lead to a spate of

m-commerce and other wireless internet developments. Increased broadband

infrastructure penetration will add further potency to the web, helping

businesses with their extranets, boosting e-marketplaces and giving a

fillip to those surviving B2C websites that have got their business

models right.



Computers will continue to get smaller, faster and cheaper. Technologies

will carry on converging. There will undoubtedly be opportunities - even

in these more trying times. But what no one knows for sure is when the

boom times will return.



TOP HI-TECH CONSULTANCIES 1-50

Rank Company UK Hi-tech UK Hi-tech % Growth

income income

00 99 (pounds) (pounds)

00 99

1 - Chime Online 10,203,950 - -

2 1 Weber Shandwick UK 9,259,410 12,128,844 -24

3 3 Firefly Communications 7,076,003 5,652,082 25

4 4 Citigate Technology 4,415,402 5,314,762 -17

5 5 Brodeur Worldwide 4,278,678 5,225,370 -18

6 11 Lewis Communications 4,212,659 2,690,606 57

7 12 AxiCom 3,811,934 2,443,737 56

8 6 Hill & Knowlton (UK) 3,732,486 5,014,999 -26

9 - Porter Novelli

Convergence Group1 3,480,421 1,398,317 149

10 2 Text 100 International 3,105,572 2,337,064 33

11 35 Burson-Marsteller 3,093,660 1,102,590 181

12 16 Kaizo 2,643,775 2,056,250 29

13 8 Edelman Public Relations

Worldwide 2,509,813 3,060,240 -18

14 - August.One Communications 2,484,260 - -

15 10 Grant Butler Coomber 2,377,620 2,735,290 -13

16 14 Beattie Media 2,375,674 2,360,000 1

17 20 Band & Brown

Communications 2,368,098 1,796,165 32

18 33 Nelson Bostock

Communications 2,345,496 1,137,436 106

19 49 Fleishman-Hillard 2,313,360 721,486 221

20 28 Companycare Communications 2,259,402 1,496,484 51

21 21 Banner Corporation 2,247,830 1,781,511 26

22 13 Bite Communications 2,217,908 2,382,844 -7

23 25 AD Communications 2,043,909 1,601,434 28

24 31 Roger Staton Associates 1,913,466 1,340,751 43

25 19 Noiseworks 1,899,126 1,804,029 5

26 17 DPA Corporate

Communications 1,887,726 1,972,092 -4

27 36 Johnson King 1,881,992 1,071,128 76

28 27 Strategic Alliance

International 1,728,142 1,506,635 15

29 26 Grayling Group 1,719,000 1,565,350 10

30 15 Ogilvy Public Relations

Worldwide 1,674,558 2,342,400 -29

31 29 GCI/APCO UK 1,628,200 1,483,424 10

32 - Midnight Communications 1,614,090 - -

33 24 MacLaurin 1,461,364 1,665,527 -12

34 22 BSMG Worldwide 1,433,537 1,767,810 -19

35 30 Berkeley Public Relations 1,429,107 1,385,938 3

36 34 Oast Communications 1,250,083 1,137,436 10

37 37 Portfolio Communications 1,224,010 1,011,118 21

38 43 The Whiteoaks Consultancy 1,215,828 813,539 49

39 40 Herald Communications 1,178,353 885,251 33

40 - Rainier 1,139,063 - -

41 - Eclat 1,114,652 - -

42 - Cohn & Wolfe 1,093,156 - -

43 - Mantra Public Relations 1,035,700 - -

44 - Biss Lancaster/Euro RSCG 1,015,353 - -

45 - The Euro PR Group 1,015,220 - -

46 39 Manning Selvage & Lee 974,400 906,570 7

47 46 Stewart-Muir Communications 923,599 796,053 16

48 - Multimedia Public Relations 854,097 - -

49 48 Warman & Bannister

Cambridge 843,180 788,840 7

50 - The ITPR Group 744,839 - -

Rank Company Total % Dot.com Staff

PR income overall %

00 99 (pounds) income income

00

1 - Chime Online 10,741,000 95 - 166

2 1 Weber Shandwick UK 31,929,000 29 22 419

3 3 Firefly Communications 7,076,003 100 19 113

4 4 Citigate Technology 4,415,402 100 - -

5 5 Brodeur Worldwide 6,112,397 70 - 83

6 11 Lewis Communications 4,212,659 100 0 73

7 12 AxiCom 3,811,934 100 0 34

8 6 Hill & Knowlton (UK) 28,934,000 13 8 368

9 - Porter Novelli

Convergence Group1 3,480,421 100 13 35

10 2 Text 100 International 3,105,572 100 5 57

11 35 Burson-Marsteller 17,187,000 18 23 194

12 16 Kaizo 3,281,775 81 1 48

13 8 Edelman Public Relations

Worldwide 10,457,554 24 2 124

14 - August.One Communications 6,210,651 40 1 85

15 10 Grant Butler Coomber 3,602,455 66 33 57

16 14 Beattie Media 6,604,528 36 5 107

17 20 Band & Brown

Communications 4,736,195 50 10 79

18 33 Nelson Bostock

Communications 3,127,328 75 13 48

19 49 Fleishman-Hillard 6,426,000 36 0 120

20 28 Companycare Communications 2,378,318 95 21 39

21 21 Banner Corporation 2,247,830 100 5 23

22 13 Bite Communications 3,539,403 63 17 54

23 25 AD Communications 2,043,909 100 0 25

24 31 Roger Staton Associates 1,913,466 100 0 19

25 19 Noiseworks 1,899,126 100 5 32

26 17 DPA Corporate

Communications 1,887,726 100 10 24

27 36 Johnson King 1,881,992 100 0 35

28 27 Strategic Alliance

International 1,728,142 100 0 20

29 26 Grayling Group 9,290,600 19 15 115

30 15 Ogilvy Public Relations

Worldwide 6,002,000 28 10 76

31 29 GCI/APCO UK 16,282,000 10 14 231

32 - Midnight Communications 1,614,090 100 0 39

33 24 MacLaurin 4,871,212 30 7 73

34 22 BSMG Worldwide 17,919,214 8 29 223

35 30 Berkeley Public Relations 1,429,107 100 20 28

36 34 Oast Communications 1,470,686 85 6 36

37 37 Portfolio Communications 2,604,277 47 1 42

38 43 The Whiteoaks Consultancy 1,279,819 95 0 24

39 40 Herald Communications 1,855,674 64 0 41

40 - Rainier 1,139,063 100 0 10

41 - Eclat 1,114,652 100 0 15

42 - Cohn & Wolfe 8,408,892 13 27 98

43 - Mantra Public Relations 1,035,700 100 24 25

44 - Biss Lancaster/Euro RSCG 11,281,698 9 - 156

45 - The Euro PR Group 1,664,295 61 10 23

46 39 Manning Selvage & Lee 4,872,000 20 - 71

47 46 Stewart-Muir Communications 923,599 100 2 14

48 - Multimedia Public Relations 871,528 98 0 16

49 48 Warman & Bannister

Cambridge 1,081,000 78 7 23

50 - The ITPR Group 744,839 100 0 15

All figures relate to the year ended 31 December 2000 Fee income = PR

fees + mark-up.



1. Chime Online (£10,203,950)



Table-topping brand Chime Online was created in March 2000 out of the

group of companies within Chime Communications that specialises in new

and emerging technologies and media. The core of Chime Online is

provided by PR consultancies Harvard PR and Insight Marketing and

Communications, together with digital marketing companies Blood

Partnership and Interactive Bureau.



Earlier this year Chime Online's PR offering was expanded, following the

incorporation of Landmark Consultants into the group from Good Relations

and a first foray into the US with the acquisition of Boston-based

technology PR company LNS Communications.



'Given the current economic climate, it is essential for tech-nology

companies to continue to communicate,' says Chime Online chief executive

Nick Taylor. 'The risk of cutting back on PR services is that the media,

industry analysts, channel partners and customers have little or no

information on which to base their opinions. So they speculate. And

speculation is rarely positive.' Chime Online clients include

corporations such as Cisco, National Semiconductor, Computer Associates,

Sony, Hewlett-Packard, Siemens and Peoplesoft. One area pencilled in for

expansion is the recently-created analyst relations service offered by

Insight, which numbers H-P, Amdahl and Computer Sciences Corporation

among its clients.



2. Weber Shandwick (£9,259,410)



Last week saw the announcement of a global mega-merger with Interpublic

merging BSMG Worldwide into Weber Shandwick. The combined company, whose

merger completes on 30 September, will have combined hi-tech billings of

over £10.5m.



In 2000, BSMG reported hi-tech fee income of £1,433,537, despite

not having a dedicated tech division. The company currently handles a

range of clients including IBM, Sapient and Cap Gemini across its

corporate, financial and marketing practices.



The original Shandwick/Weber merger in September 2000 led to a

re-allocation of business elsewhere within the Weber Shandwick group,

and there are now three separate hi-tech PR brands operating under the

Weber Shandwick banner: Miller Shandwick Technologies - which saw the

departure of MD Kristin Syltevik late last year to set up her own

consultancy, Hotwire PR - Weber Group Europe and B2C specialist Red

Whistle, launched with Zoe Arden at the helm, following a successful US

debut in 1999.



According to Cathy Pittham, Weber Shandwick Technologies Brands managing

director Europe, who heads up the stable of hi-tech brands - it is too

early for the company to discuss the impact that the merger may have on

the hi-tech structure.



Pittham says technology PR income rose by 70 per cent at Miller

Shandwick Technologies and 20 per cent at Weber Group Europe during

2000. New accounts gained last year include Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi

Europe, e-tailing software and services company Blue Martini Software

and employment website Monster.



On a more negative note, business was lost when online gold retailer

Gold Avenue pulled out of the UK market and when broadband services

company Abovenet was bought by Metromedia.



'In the case of both Weber and Miller, 90 per cent of our business is

pan-European,' says Pittham.



5. Brodeur Worldwide (£4,278,678)



'The era of the technology turkey shoot is well and truly over,' says

Brodeur Worldwide vice-chairman Jonathan Simnett. 'The technology

industry is currently in meltdown.'



An 18 per cent fall in fee income shows Brodeur to be among those to

have been hit early by the changing climate. Some clients have scaled

back their PR spend and one, removable hard drives company Onstream, has

gone bust.



Happier developments include the establishment of a specialist

technology analyst relations team headed by Duncan Chappell, formerly of

Ovum. A corporate communications group with internal communications

skills has also been set up.



'Internal communications are vitally important now in technology because

so many people are being laid off,' says Simnett. 'But it's important

that these severances are handled well, because technology is so

cyclical that these companies may soon need many of the same people back

again.'



New business picked up includes sophisticated search engine Envisional

and wireless interoperability specialist Argogroup, for which Brodeur

has a broad brief spanning the development of a corporate identity to

media relations.



7. AxiCom (£3,811,934)



Seven-year old hi-tech specialist AxiCom moves into the Top 10 for the

first time, following up a 55 per cent growth in fee income in 1999 with

a 56 per cent rise for 2000. Among the new clients driving this growth

are Linux company Red Hat & Symbian, which develops operating systems

for hand-held devices. E-skills NTO, a Government-backed body charged

with improving IT skills at all levels, was added to the roster early

this year.



AxiCom, founded by former Herald Communications consultants Julian

Tanner and Helen Ridgway, has hitherto shunned dot.coms in favour of

technology clients such as semiconductor companies ARM and Cirrus Logic.

The business has set out its stall to become an international player,

with fully-owned offices in France, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands,

Italy, Spain and the US as well as the UK.



'Loose affiliation networks don't work,' argues managing director

Tanner.



'There's no authority and no control. If you can't control, you can't

deliver.'



9. Porter Novelli Convergence (£3,480,421)



The December 2000 acquisition of consumer-tech specialist Fodor Wyllie

Associates, which boasted hi-tech fee income of around £1.3m,

played a substantial part in pushing Porter Novelli Convergence Group's

revenues up by a fraction over £2m to almost £3.5m. The

transaction involved the discontinuation of the Fodor Wyllie brand with

agency founders Grace Fodor and Jean Wyllie taking the helm at the

Convergence Group as UK joint directors.



'We've noticed over the last year that the major technology companies

are once again consolidating their agencies,' says Fodor. 'Lots of

briefs we are getting are pan-European. That's one of the main reasons

we thought we'd do the deal. It makes a lot of sense to be part of a

group that has wholly-owned offices globally.'



Major wins for the Group in 2000 included networking giant Novell,

telecoms company WorldCom and electronic semiconductors business ADI.

Shopsmart ended its relationship with the agency, which was also left

with a bad debt following the knock-down sell-off of client Express New

Media.



11. Burson-Marsteller (£3,093,660)



Under managing director e-commerce and new media Jonathan Hargreaves,

Burson-Marsteller has shot up the league table, with growth of 181 per

cent taking it from outside the Top 30 to 11th spot in a single

year.



The success is down to targeting key corporate clients for high-tech PR

initiatives. According to Hargreaves, what B-M excels at is offering

clients 'the big campaignable idea'.



Major B-M corporate clients such as Accenture and Johnson & Johnson have

turned to the consultancy for e-business strategy advice, while new

business has come from the likes of Alcatel, 3Com and mobile solutions

joint venture M7 Networks. I-syt, a joint venture with South African

company Unison, has been established to offer web development and

back-end solutions, and investor relations sites have been developed for

clients including mining company Anglo-American.



The hi-tech team has been bolstered by the arrival from Biss Lancaster

of Simon Milton as director specialising in new economy and innovation

and Tony Crawshaw coming on board from Shandwick as associate director,

new media.



'As a company we were never really set up to service dot.com clients, so

the effect on us of the bubble bursting is slight,' says Hargreaves.



'Client companies that were spending a lot on marketing and PR early in

2000 without a proper business plan aren't around anymore, which I think

is a good thing.'



18. Nelson Bostock (£2,345,496)



Although 75 per cent of Nelson Bostock's income is hi-tech related, it

also has a thriving consumer practice serving clients such as Bacardi,

Swatch and Raleigh bikes.



This, says managing director Martin Bostock, is a 'conscious strategy'

not to become a niche consultancy.



'The people who drink Bacardi are the same as the people who buy

internet enabled PDAs. You are talking to them through predominantly the

same media,' he adds.



Toshiba has been a client since 1988, initially with its laptop

computers but these days the agency is talking to consumers about its

DVD and MP3 players. Clients picked up in 2000 include wireless internet

product company OmniSky, the Independent Newspaper Group's iTouch

wireless portal, web streaming video on demand company Freedomland,

digital content re-purposing specialist Elata and Yeoman Group, which

has a wireless navigation product.



Bosch was lost when it decided to pull out of the mobile phone handsets

market. But V-Tech took its place.



Small B2B technology specialist agency Blink was acquired and its

founder Daniel Walker was made an associate director of Nelson Bostock.

This contributed to the 106 per cent growth that propelled Nelson

Bostock into the Top 20.



'We had a few dot.coms last year and a few fall-outs,' says Bostock.



'But where we really were was the serious side: the backbone, the things

that make the internet work.'



19. Fleishman-Hillard (£2,313,360)



With a 221 per cent leap in fee income during 2000, Fleishman-Hillard

director technology, media and telecommunications Jonathan Jordan has

every reason to declare last year a success. An expanded brief for Dell

and new business from a raft of clients drove the consultancy from 49th

spot last time around to a place in the top 20.



Among the wins were Nortel Networks, the platform independent mobile

transactions product company 7.24 Solutions, internet security

specialist Entrust and B2B procurement and systems integration software

company eXcilon.



'As good people are always in short supply, the biggest challenge we

faced during 2000 was hiring outstanding consultants to help grow the

business,' says Jordan. 'We cast our net wide and recruited not only

those who had strong tech PR pedigrees, but also those who had shown

success in other professions, including management consultancy,

advertising and public affairs.' But the heady growth of 2000 is

unlikely to be repeated this year, given the prevailing market

conditions. Clients are finding it tougher, among them PSINet, which has

filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US.



27. Johnson King (£1,881,992)



Johnson King has been busily building a presence for itself abroad,

opening offices in Munich, Paris and Breda in the Netherlands. This has

enabled it to pick up clients such as Boston-based high-speed

communications systems company Quantum Bridge, for which it is handling

trade media relations across Europe.



'To have a European capability is essential,' says managing director

Mike King. 'The clients we are working for almost exclusively don't look

at the UK in isolation.' Whereas, about 18 months ago, around 80 to 90

per cent of the agency's clients were, like Quantum Bridge, US-owned,

now it is nearer 55 per cent, adds King. Most growth has come from

European-owned operations.



Significant wins in 2000 included Enterprise Ireland, the Irish

Government-backed body promoting Irish technology firms to the UK and

Interoute, which is building the largest fibre optic network across

Europe. NCorp, a database retrieval system that works 'intuitively',

joined the roster early this year.



'We've never moved away from the B2B focus we had. We never got involved

in the dot.com frenzy,' says King. It was a strategy that helped lift

fees by 76 per cent.



30. Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide (£1,674,558)



It was a far from vintage year for Ogilvy. The agency's biggest client

IBM, for which it managed a pan-European network for six years, took the

task in house - and with it fees running into several hundred thousands

of pounds. The dot.com boom hitting the buffers also affected the

agency, leading to the winding up of its e-commerce division, with

former head Howard De Souza moving to take charge of the corporate

practice and taking some of his team with him. No wonder hi-tech income

fell a painful 29 per cent.



On a more positive note, UK managing director technology practice Simon

Quarendon arrived in March last year after selling his Words Group

company to Flagship. Client wins in 2000 included IT services supplier

EDS and electronic procurement and supply chain management business

Manugistics.



An online PR capability, under Kiran Sharma, has been launched to help

clients in areas such as virtual press offices and investment has been

made in extranets to improve account management.



38. The White Oaks Consultancy (£1,215,828)



A 49 per cent uplift in fee income saw The WhiteOaks Consultancy break

the £1m barrier, assisted by wins such as outsourcing specialist

Servus Holdings.



Director Bill Nichols says WhiteOaks 'sat outside the dot.com bubble'

but admits that things have been tough this year following the US market

'going off a cliff face' at the end of last year.



The business, which is headquartered in a Grade II listed Georgian

farmhouse in Farnham opened up a London office in 2000. This was on the

back of launching a majority-owned joint venture partnership with Deep

Group, owner of companies such as the award-laden new media design

agency Deepend.



Relish, as the joint venture is called, numbers anti-virus software

company Sybari among its clients. Its managing director is Suzy

Brooks.



In August 1999, WhiteOaks set up a wholly-owned French subsidiary under

Veronique Lurot and last year announced the launch of White Oaks

International, a network with partners in Germany, Italy, Spain, USA and

the Netherlands. 'The future is going international with the White Oaks

brand name,' says Nichols.



43. Mantra Public Relations (£1,035,700)



Formed in February 2000 by ex-Brunswick consultants Debbie Wosskow and

Laurence Dore, it took Mantra a mere ten months to reach £1m in

fees.



Wosskow, still only 27 was a former IPR Young Communicator of the Year

when at Citigate.



Mantra offers technology and telecoms clients a full-service, extending

from corporate and financial to B2B IT PR and consumer campaigns. All

staff have equity in the agency which is minority owned by two venture

capitalists: Longacre Partners, which is the corporate finance arm of

leading new media lawyers Olswang, and the vehicle of former Hillsdown

chairman Sir Harry Solomon, whose daughter Louise Solomon, an erstwhile

Dewe Rogerson consultant, sits on the Mantra board.



Wosskow says Mantra has aggressively targeted technology VCs, not just

to get their business but to use their connections as well. Among the

agency's first clients was Silicon Valley VC Benchmark Capital, which

recommended Mantra to its clients Flutter (online betting) and Keen

(online advice), who both hired Mantra. Other wins include Moreover.com

- run by Nick Denton, the influential founder of the First Tuesday new

media networking evenings - and online dating service Udate.



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