"If you are looking for the benchmark of excellence in small agencies, Mitchell Communications Group is it," said one judge who was essentially summarizing the broad sentiment that netted the Fayetteville, AR-based firm this coveted honor.
An increase of 94% in year-over-year gross revenue, from $3.2 million in October 2009 to $6.2 million a year later, was impossible to overlook for Mitchell, whose core practice areas include corporate comms, consumer, digital and creative, and organizational and leadership development.
As with any successful agency, the key is long-term client retention, supported by new accounts. Mitchell has been working with Walmart for well over a decade and with Tyson Foods for nearly seven years. For the former, the firm's vast 2010 efforts included 1,300-plus local market events. For the latter, it led efforts for the company's 10th anniversary campaign for its national hunger relief program.
In terms of new business, Sara Lee, Kimberly-Clark, and Ghirardelli Chocolate are among the many clients to have been added to Mitchell's roster. All the while, the firm did not report any account losses during the entry period.
Innovation was also top of mind this past year, as Mitchell launched a bevy of new products, including the Digital Library Management tool, an in-house capability to manage its clients' digital assets.
In addition to its client efforts, judges were equally impressed with Mitchell's commitment to its staff, from paying 100% of its employees' health, dental, and life insurance premiums to its monthly "Bright Spots" meetings that focus on best practices and client successes. To round things out, the agency's staff donated 2,840 hours to worthy causes over the course of the year - an average of 94.5 hours per employee.
As one judge summarized, "This is an extraordinary agency that has demonstrated exceptional expertise and innovation in both its client work and its agency growth."
Honorable Mention: Singer Associates
With revenues above $5 million, this 12-person firm has one of the highest rates of return per staffer in the industry. And, despite its size, Singer is a major player in almost every major issue in California: transportation, real estate, labor, healthcare, and the environment. The firm launched the $4 billion redevelopment project that has been hailed as the "Grand Central of the West," bringing high-speed rail, commuter trains, and bus service into the center of San Francisco. Cargill was among 20 new account wins, while long-term growth continued for many existing clients. As one judge said, "Singer is a small agency with the mentality, professionalism, and client list of one much larger."
The Award Open to any firm whose current annual PR income (consisting of fees plus mark-up for disbursements) is from $5 million to $10 million. The CEOs of each firm were required to certify in writing that the agency's annual PR income met those qualifications, as well as date of incorporation and number of employees. This award recognizes financial and client-list growth, client retention, and PR creativity and innovation.
Eric Mower and Associates
Mitchell Communications Group
Sponsor: Fleishman-Hillard, one of the world's leading public relations firms, has built its reputation by using strategic communications to deliver what its clients value most: meaningful, positive, and measurable impact on the per- formance of their organizations. The firm operates worldwide through its 80 owned offices. For more information, visit www.fleishman.com.