PRWeek UK Awards Winners 2020: Best Agency Outside London

Smarts is the winner in this category.

Three decades after its founding in Holywood, County Down, Smarts has grown from a traditional, local Northern Irish PR agency into a multi-disciplinary, international consumer shop with an enviable client list and a strong culture.

Its best year to date, in 2019/2020 revenue jumped 24 per cent to £6.6m and operating profit exceeded budget by almost one-third to reach £1.8m. The agency added 13 new clients, including Coca-Cola UK, Openreach UK, Forest Feast and Ulster University.

Smarts focused on extending its scopes with existing multi-brand clients to service new brands and/or geographies. This meant, for example, a dedicated drive to win new clients and opportunities where one-stop multi-discipline outputs are likely, and selective pitching for clients where the agency's range of complementary disciplines could deliver genuinely breakthrough work.

During the year £1m of growth came from new services to existing clients across multiple geographies.

Innovation continued in workplace practices. These included investing £300,000 in a new creative workspace for the team; appointing a new board member focused on diversity and social inclusion; committing to fulfil 70 per cent of staffing through promotion; introducing enhanced flexible working policies for all staff; and establishing a new culture team with a remit for full company inclusion and weekly social activity.

Creative highlights included taking Diageo’s training programme – Diageo Bar Academy – completely online as the coronavirus crisis hit; delivering a full content programme for Snow Patrol that reached 32m people globally; and temporarily transforming a London home with tonnes of food to highlight the huge amount of food waste generated by households in the capital.

Judge's comment

Robust entry with some impressive growth and client retention stats. Diageo case study really stood out as a COVID-19 'best in class' example


Highly commended

Tribera

After just 15 months of trading, the retail, leisure and charity sector specialist had gained 20 clients including Costa Coffee and LloydsPharmacy, grown to 16 staff and passed the £1m revenue mark (in February 2020). Birmingham-based Tribera prides itself on having an integrated approach across disciplines. Highlights of its work during the year included the Christmas campaign for The Works, which focused on targeting multiple audiences with different interests and led to the client's best Christmas sales to date.

Shortlisted

PHD Marketing & Strategy

Story Comms

The Lucre Group

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