That this year's winner is a tech specialist, says much about the achievements of Hotwire PR since its launch in September 2000. Founded by former Shandwick employees Kristin Syltevik and Anthony Wilson, the agency has not only weathered the woes of the tech downturn, but positively thrived.
By the end of Hotwire's first year of trading, it had posted a turnover of £716,000 and a profit margin of 20 per cent. And by the end of its second year - in the UK alone - Hotwire is expecting to post a turnover of £1.3m and a profit margin of 13 per cent, which translates into an incredible growth record of 82 per cent.
This impressive performance has been secured by sticking to a five-year business plan and focusing on service, consultancy and clients.
From its inception, Hotwire introduced a practice-based structure, aimed at achieving in-depth industry knowledge for tech firms. Today, each of these six teams across applications and services; enterprise computing; consumer technology; telecoms; new media and electronics, only works with clients within its area of expertise. The agency also has a strong focus on accountability, transparency and measurement.
Over its first 22 months, this two-fold approach landed Hotwire some major clients, including PwC Consulting, Hewlett Packard-spin off Agilent Technologies and telecoms firm Alcatel.
Not content with making its presence felt solely in the UK market, the agency has also gained a foothold in Europe, establishing wholly-owned offices in France, Germany and Ireland.
From small beginnings Hotwire has grown from two to 32 employees and has a 100 per cent staff retention rate. The agency has a graduate programme and throughout the year, Hotwire's practitioners attend both internal workshops and external training sessions.
No small wonder that the agency has grown from having nine clients at the end of December 2000, to boasting 32 retained and 13 project clients by July 2002.
COMMENDED - Red Door Communications
Set up in August 2000 by Catherine Warne and Julia Tollis, Red Door Communications exceeded its business plan by 140 per cent in 2001 and by 124 per cent in 2002. Almost half of this growth has been organic and to date the healthcare and pharmaceuticals specialist has a 100 per cent client retention record, working with brands including Bayer, Aventis Pasteur MSD and Leo Pharmaceuticals. Much of this success is driven by a continuous, two-way evaluation programme and an ambitious people welfare and development scheme.