Top 40 Technology Consultancies

Tech agencies have seen higher demand for content creation and are under more pressure to prove value as clients become more mainstream, reports Sara Luker.

Tech Top 40: trends include a higher demand for content creation
Tech Top 40: trends include a higher demand for content creation
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Tech PR agencies have seen their clients become mainstream consumer brands in recent years, as society becomes increasingly tech-savvy.

So it is little surprise that tech agencies have experienced similar trends over the past 12 months to the consumer PR sector: increased demand for digital work and content creation, while facing a greater need to demonstrate tangible results.

Proving value has become increasingly important to secure work from budget-conscious clients. Digital work has helped with this, offering detailed analytics through which campaigns can be measured.

'Clients are under much more pressure to show how PR is influencing business outcomes. And because we have to be more accountable, digital and experiential have become a bigger part of what we offer,' says Whiteoaks MD James Kelliher.

In the past few months, global tech brands Hewlett-Packard and Panasonic have consolidated their PR accounts. Waggener Edstrom's V-P of tech Chantal Bowman-Boyles says this is becoming a trend: 'I've seen a consolidation of rosters with big tech brands wanting fewer agencies working across global regions.'

Bite MD Europe Kath Pooley believes the ability to create engaging content is what stands one tech agency apart from another, arguing that ex-journalists are now more attractive to the PR industry.

In the past few weeks, Bite hired the high profile editor of New Media Age Justin Pearse to be head of innovation. 'We have recruited tech-savvy journalists who can help our clients engage and influence audiences - and I can see the demand for great content creation increasing,' she says.

The key trend for 2012 looks set to be the rise and subsequent impact of mobile. 'PR professionals need to be making everything they do mobile compatible as it is the way people consume content now.

No-one has particularly cracked it yet,' says Pooley.

Table analysis

  • For the fourth consecutive year Edelman secured the top spot with a tech fee income of £7.65m.
  • Although the top four agencies remained the same as in the 2011 table, Brands2Life leapfrogged Hotwire into second place with an eight per cent increase in fee income. Hotwire lost the £250,000 BlackBerry account to Good Relations in April 2011.
  • Bite Communications saw the biggest growth of the top four with 13 per cent.
  • The Whiteoaks Consultancy moved above Nelson Bostock into fifth position, from sixth last year.
  • Speed Communications dropped three positions to 13th place, while Kaizo dropped eight places to 31 in the table.

Edelman 1

European tech MD Jonathan Hargreaves

Tech fee income £7.65m

Growth 0%

How was your year?

It was a tough year, with clients being cautious with budgets and start-ups finding it hard to raise capital. We concentrated on two things: winning deep-tech clients like our data centre win for Hitachi Data Systems, and content creation.

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

One of the key trends has been clients wanting more content creation. We have hired journalists to head up our content teams and advise us on creating content online that will get people talking about our clients.

What is the market like now?

Big data is a booming market. More b2b clients want social media monitoring.

What kind of work do clients want?

We have found that b2b and deep tech clients have increased their need for digital and social media campaigns. Digital campaigns used to be desirable - now they are a necessity.

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

There will be a great emphasis on content created and owned by agencies that helps clients speak to key audiences. There will be more journalists on board and more digital expertise to create content that works online.

2011 AT A GLANCE

High points A team away day to Marbella, a New Media Age nomination for best b2b campaign, and the sixth social entertainment study.

Low points We had less desk space as a result of our continued expansion.

Key client wins SAP, Autonomy and Tata Communications.

Best hire Nick Hay as director of the Cleantech offering.

Strategy for 2012 Our goal is to be recognised as future leaders and a destination for technology talent. Therefore our strategy is focused on deep tech business development, retaining, developing and hiring technology talent and increasing our social and digital offering.


Pinnacle Marketing Comms 10

Director Simon Flatt

Tech fee income £2.21m

Growth 29%

How was your year?

We have achieved new business through our increased expansion into digital. There is a great need for brands to know what is being said about them. What people are saying helps shape the ideas and content we create. Our growth is also a result of existing client growth and international growth.

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

The demand for digital content has opened up international barriers. We can use content in multiple markets and multiple countries.

What is the market like now?

Tech companies seem to be riding out the recession and are looking to expand internationally. There is plenty of work out there, ranging from deep tech clients to exciting start-ups.

What kind of work do clients want?

PR agency work is now less fragmented. Clients want agencies to do it all, traditional, online, SEO - you name it. They want engagement through social media and across multiple territories.

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

There will be an increased need for social media and more demand for solid tech knowledge and expertise so that everyone working on accounts can speak to the client, journalists and the audience at an expert level.

2011 AT A GLANCE

High points We achieved 37 per cent growth in our digital business. We increased the web traffic of a client that was already receiving more than 120,000 visits a month by an additional 30 per cent. And we continued the expansion of our international client base.

Low points The negative reporting by some national and broadcast media regarding the state of UK industry and the economy in general.

Key client wins Parker Hannifin, in the industrial engineering sector, and Nordic user interface and application framework specialist Qt Commercial - Digia.

Best hire Account director Ian Jarrett from Norgen.

Strategy for 2012 Continue to grow and provide clients with a range of services that will mean they continue to spend with us.

 


Marlin PR 24

MD Jenny Tod

Tech fee income £951,000

Growth 35%

How was your year?

We've had a truly collaborative approach with our clients, which has led to us creating and running with big ideas. We have grown our existing client base through challenging ourselves as well as our clients - provoking debate, attracting media attention and getting people interested in us. This has all resulted in us gaining new work through word of mouth and recommendations.

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

Clients have given us more access to their stakeholders and hired us to organise more events for them. Campaigns are now more integrated.

What is the market like now?

The market is looking good. Tech clients want to make some noise, be seen and make campaigns that help their customers interact with them. Smaller names in the tech/telecoms markets want a bigger share of voice.

What kind of work do clients want?

Engagement and integration is key for clients, from their employees through internal comms, to connecting with customers through influencers.

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

PR will increasingly lead campaigns and work alongside other marketing disciplines. There will be more mobile work and more video.

2011 AT A GLANCE

High points We have come of age and moved out of a serviced office into our own building. We have long-lasting relationships with clients like Sony and Sage that continue to value us.

Low points Clients leaving the UK to go to Silicon Valley. We're losing tech talent here because there isn't enough funding and because there is a risk-averse attitude.

Key client wins Yahoo and Sony increasing our remit to include pan-regional work. Bang & Olufsen.

Best hires Senior consultant Victoria Sennitt; consultant Jules Parry; consultant Fiona McKenzie; junior consultant Libby Daniels.

Strategy for 2012 More growth to the levels we have already experienced. We want to make the Top 150.


Grayling 17

 

Tech director Hannah Williams

Tech fee income £1.33m

Growth 109%

How was your year?

We have grown in the past year by thinking big and offering clients multi-market services. This has resulted in us increasing the work we do for current clients in more countries. We use our UK offices as the hub and this strategy has led to huge organic growth.

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

Clients are increasingly going beyond traditional print channels. In-house comms teams now look to their agencies to create multiple-channel content that connects with audiences.

What is the market like now?

Budgets continue to be scrutinised and we have to show measurement, ROI and deliver on targets to prove our worth. Social media and digital have helped quantify the value of PR.

What kind of work do clients want?

Clients want campaigns to work across the whole of comms - not just rely on traditional media relations and column inches. Clients want agencies to create highly localised content that can be rolled out globally.

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

Technology companies will want to engage more with their customers. Clients will have to increasingly communicate their sustainability, green and corporate social responsibility credentials.

2011 AT A GLANCE

High points Increasingly being seen as true strategic partners and working on above-the-line campaigns. In the past we would have been told to join these campaigns after the fact. Now we are the first point of call and PR is leading multi-comms campaigns.

Low points It is becoming increasingly hard to find good people at all levels who can understand technology and are able to communicate that knowledge to consumers and the media.

Key client wins IT software company Northgate Public Services.

Best hires Senior account director Liam Jacklin, who worked at both Rocket and Bite Communications.

Strategy for 2012 Ensure growth in a geographic way with more global campaigns and clients that think globally.

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