Thirteen of the top 25 independent PR firms in the 2011 O'Dwyer rankings released today were up in double figures including six of the top ten. Registering double-digit gains were 24 of the top 50, the same number that achieved that in the 2010 rankings.

Richard Edelman
Edelman grew 15.9% to $604.7 million from $521M, making it five times as large as the next biggest independent, APCO Worldwide, which grew 6.4% to $120.7M.

Edelman's $83M in additional business was greater than the annual volume of all but two other firms in the ranking, APCO and Waggener Edstrom. WE grew 3.5% to $115.8M.

Standout performers in the top ten also included Text 100, up 10% to $50.4M; WCG, up 29% to $47.5M; MWW Group, up 11% to $38.6M; ICR, up 21% to $32M (making ICR No. 1 in financial PR/investor relations), and DKC PR, up 12% to $26.8M.

Other standouts in the top 50 were Allison & Partners, up 25% to $19.4M; Coyne PR, +13.6% to $18M; Atomic PR, +35% to $15M; Zeno Group, +11.7% to $13.9M; CJP Communications, +24.4% to $12.5MM; 5W PR, +9% to $12.4M; Levick Strategic Communications, +38% to $12.4M; Makovsky + Co., +11% to $12M; Formula PR, + 31% to $11.5M; Fahlgren Mortine, +11% to $10.5M; Jackson Spalding, +17% to $10.4M; Spark PR, + 17% to $10.3M; Black Twig Communications, +28% to $10M; The Hoffman Agency, +11% to $9.1M; Airfoil PR, +19% to $8.1M; Launch Squad, +30% to $7.5M, and Merritt Group, +15% to $7.1M.

Jones PA of D.C. Grew 149%

Biggest gainer in the top 100 was Jones Public Affairs of Washington, D.C., No. 73 in the rankings with a spurt of 149% to $4.2M. Staff grew from 12 to 25.

Second biggest gainer in the top 100 was Borders + Gratehouse, +66.3%, followed by Levick of D.C. at 38%, Davies Murphy Group of Burlington, Mass., at 36%, and Atomic PR of San Francisco at 35%.

Cooney/Waters Group grew 45% to $20.4M and No. 13 in the ranking but most of the growth was from the acquisition of The Corkery Group, which had $6.3M in fees in the first nine months of 2011 and employed 25.

Varied Services, Special Practices, SM Are Cited

Publisher Jack O'Dwyer said that statements obtained from more than 30 firms show that what is propelling growth of the firms is the expertise they have developed in major categories such as healthcare, tech, financial, government relations, environment, food/nutrition, sports/leisure, travel/hospitality and others as well as their ability to capitalize on the many new ways of reaching consumers.

Carrie Jones
Edelman in 2011 introduced the idea of "transmedia storytelling" through what it calls its "Media Cloverleaf" (traditional, hybrid and social).

Carrie Jones, managing director of Jones PA, said clients of the firm have an appetite for "high-impact approaches" and that is what the firm provides.

Edelman, +15.9% to $604,740,732

Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman, said his agency is “continuing to redefine the role of a PR firm and its place within the marketing mix,” recognizing the increased demand for “conversation-based marketing efforts.”

“We began in digital in the late '90s but found our niche the last three or four years in social media, which has led to an increase in market share in the PR counseling industry and other marketing disciplines, specifically advertising and digital. Revenues in our Digital practice grew 55% in 2011, the largest increase of our six global practices, followed by Corporate (+19%), Public Affairs (+16%), Technology (+14%), Consumer (+9%) and Health (+8%).

edelman cloverlraf
Edelman's Cloverleaf
“In 2011 we introduced the idea of transmedia storytelling through what we call the Media Cloverleaf (traditional, hybrid, and social), to our staff and clients. The concept has helped produce innovative and award-winning work, including campaigns for Starbucks (re-establishing its global vision and introducing a new brand); Trojan (launching a new line of Trojan Vibrations); Volkswagen (introducing the 2012 Beetle), and Microsoft (orchestrating the global launch of Xbox Kinect). Coupled with our entrepreneurial spirit and flexibility of thinking, the Media Cloverleaf concept has allowed us to stay ahead of the curve and quickly adapt to the changes that are regularly occurring within the marketing landscape.

“We remain proud to be independent and family owned. Over the last two-and-a-half years we have increased our global footprint through partnerships with Rediffusion in India, the acquisitions of AVC in Vietnam, K Comms in Switzerland, Significa in Brazil and in digital agencies in the U.K. and Berlin. Our investment in intellectual property such as The Edelman Trust Barometer and goodpurpose study continue to solidify our position as the thought leader for the industry,” he said.

Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm, has 63 offices and more than 4,200 employees worldwide. It also has affiliates in more than 30 cities. It was named Advertising Age’s top-ranked PR firm of the decade in 2009 and one of its “A-List Agencies” in both 2010 and 2011. It was Adweek’s “2011 PR Agency of the Year,” PRWeek’s “2011 Large PR Agency of the Year,” and The Holmes Report’s “2011 Global Agency of the Year.” It was named one of the “Best Places to Work by AdAge in 2010 and was among Glassdoor’s top five “2011 Best Places to Work.” It owns specialty firms Blue (advertising), StrategyOne (research), Ruth (brands + experiences), DJE Science (medical education/publishing and science communications), MATTER (sports, sponsorship, and entertainment), and Edelman Consulting.

Text 100 Global PR, +10% to $50,425,771

Aedhmar Hynes
Text 100 CEO Aedhmar Hynes said that the firm in the past few years has “invested heavily in the development of integrated marketing and communications services to meet the increasing demand for social media and digital expertise from our clients and prospects.

"Digital is now core to everything we do at Text 100," she said. "As a result, we have been able to successfully integrate social media and digital strategy into programs with existing clients and use this expertise to capitalize on new opportunities with a growing range of prospects spanning across multiple industry sectors.

“In addition to the expansion of our service offerings, we have been successful using our core expertise as a technology communications consultancy to extend our reach into adjacent markets such as energy, automotive, aviation, travel and tourism," she said.

Added Hynes: "By expanding beyond the technology sector, we have been able to market our integrated marketing and communications services to a new range of prospects, which has led to significant growth in all major regions – Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa and North America."

WCG, No. 6, +29% to $47.6M;

Jim Weiss
Founder and CEO Jim Weiss said WCG continues its practice of “reinvesting improved profits back into our people.”

Said Weiss: “We thoughtfully hire the best and brightest people in order to keep WCG nimble and quick and to adapt to the changing media and economic landscape.”

Major additions to staff include Gary Grates as managing director in charge of corporate reputation, positioning an change management; Tim Marklein, leader of the analytics and technology practice, and Craig Alperowitz, group director in the entertainment and consumer products group.

During the past year, WCG teamed with WebMD founder Jeff Arnold’s Sharecare venture to launch the healthcare sector’s first-ever analytics-powered digital engagement platform.

MWW, No. 7,+11% to $38,626,000;

Michael Kempner
MWW, in its first full year following its buyback from the Interpublic Group of Cos., won such global brands as Subaru, Zumba Fitness, Walgreens, Virgin America, Frontier Airlines and the AARP Foundation.

The firm, headed by CEO Michael Kempner, added organic growth in practice areas including digital, consumer lifestyle marketing, and corporate communications.

During the year it built new methodologies and tools including its “NetRelevance” system to measure a brand’s trust and relevance among stakeholders.

ICR, No. 8, +21% to $32,030,483;

Tom Ryan
“ICR’s growth in 2011 was driven by 37 new client wins,” said CEO Tom Ryan. Across the 20 industry groups at the firm, clients were added primarily in retail, technology, energy and healthcare and examples include Kosmos Energy, Carbonite, Pandora Media, AMC Entertainment, Teavana, and LipoScience, Inc.

ICR continued to provide strategic investor relations including IPO-readiness, media relations, crisis management and traditional corporate communications to new and existing clients.

Also boosting year over year revenues was the Xchange, ICR’s annual investor conference, which in 2011 hosted 175 private and public company management reams and more than 1,500 attendees.

DKC Public Relations, No. 10, +12.1% to $26,800,000.

Sean Cassidy
DKC’s growth in 2011 came from a “mix of significant new business wins across multiple industry sectors for national assignments and from new revenue streams made possible by further expansion of our digital communications and government affairs practices,” said Sean Cassidy, president.

He said the firm “conceptualized and produced significant digital content initiatives for Hornitos Tequila, The James Hotel, and Topps. We expanded our government affairs practice across the media, banking, healthcare and sports.

“Our new offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., transformed the company from its New York beginnings 20 years ago into a major national communications company,” said Cassidy.

Allison & Partners, No. 14, +25% to $19,400,000.

Scott Allison
“About 85% of our growth in 2011 can be attributed to new business wins with the rest from existing accounts,” said Scott Allison, president and CEO.

“Our New York office experienced significant growth from the addition of the Brand Innovation Group and key client wins within the Technology, Consumer and Corporate practice groups.

“Companywide, our Technology & Digital and Consumer PR & Marketing practice groups made the most significant revenue gains.”

New client wins included B&G Foods, ConAgra, Dropbox, DreamWorks Animation, Food Should Taste Good, ING Direct, Medicare Today, Mozilla, National Restaurant Assn., Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, THQ and TiVo.

Coyne Public Relations, No. 16, +13.6% to $18,010,000.

Tom Coyne
CEO Tom Coyne said the firm’s significant gains in 2011 were due to its “unwavering commitment to staffers and their development. Great people explains the firm’s robust performance. We added senior leadership across the board and promoted key staff to create remarkable teams.”

Key additions include Brad Buyce, executive VP; Kelly Dencker, senior VP in healthcare; Reggie Dance, VP in the multicultural group, and Marie Baker, director of social media.

Said Coyne: “We remain focused on never losing what made us great—unwavering commitment to being a great place to work which leads to unrivaled client service and creativity. As an agency, we feel like we are only getting started which makes it fun coming to work every day.”

Atomic Public Relations,No. 18, +35% to $15,008,254

Andy Getsey
Andy Getsey, co-founder and CEO, said the firm’s growth in 2011 was due to its “broadening, creative and effective use of analytics as well as the launch of sister agency H3O Communications.

“These two things led to a string of tech and consumer tech client wins by both firms, kicked off by McAfee and Sony early in the year, and a growing number of pure consumer assignments from brands like Bertazzoni and Cabot Creamery going into the end of the year.

"It was a hard-working year but we feel fortunate to have had it and we had a lot of fun, too," he said.

Zeno Group, No. 20, +11.7% to $13,926,036

Barby Siegel
CEO Barby Siegel said the firm’s growth has been helped by its 42 new business wins in 2011 and through Feb. 15, 2012.

Said Barby: “Our strategy is senior level talent working on business and a fearless, unexpected approach to work.

“Our 90 employees in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Silicon valley and Toronto include 17 hires at the VP and above level. Our areas of expertise include consumer brands, corporate, health, technology and digital engagement.

“Our collaborative culture brings out the best in our people. Our independence gives us the freedom to operate as one P&L to ensure the best resources are put forth on any given day. We continue to capitalize on our ‘Real’ franchise of the ‘Real Moms of Zeno,’ a dedicated focus group that has nearly doubled in size this past year. We also added the ‘Real Dads of Zeno’ and most recently the ‘Las Madres of Zeno’ for insights from the important and growing Hispanic market.”

Recent significant client wins include Dickie’s, Bacardi, Lipton, Specific Media, K2M Medical Devices, Virtual Health and Oak Investment Partners.

Levick Strategic Communications, No. 23, +38.1% to $12,459,523

Richard Levick
President and CEO Richard Levick said 2011’s surge is due to the firm’s ability to handle complex business problems.

The firm, he said, is especially skilled in handling food and product recalls which have been on the rise. Handling recalls involves expertise in litigation, government regulations, crises, and public affairs, he said.

“We are now making a big push into the financial communications arena including a significant expansion into mergers and acquisitions,” he added.

Levick is seeking a broader client base so that no single client represents a substantial portion of the firm’s revenues.

“In 2011, our ten largest clients represented just over a third of our revenues. As we broaden our services to Fortune 500 companies, we anticipate that client diversification will accelerate growth in 2012,” said Levick.

5W Public Relations, No. 25, +9.0% to $12,455,065

Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian, President & CEO of 5W Public Relations, said “2011 was a very good year for 5WPR, and we are pleased to continue to rank as one of the 25 largest independent PR agencies in the U.S.

“We had significant client growth from existing clients, and made investments in key hires and infrastructure which we believe will enable us to reach the top 20 in 2012.

“5WPR is dedicated to being the hardest working firm - dedicated to getting positive results for clients; we work in the here and now while continuously keeping our eye on the future.

“We continue to have one of the youngest senior management teams in the industry – and in this era of PR firm consolidation and large holding companies view our independence as a strength and one which our clients and staff value. Onward and upward.”

Makovsky + Co., No. 27, +11% to $12,000,000

Ken Makovsky
President Kenneth Makovsky said “There is no question that clients are seeking expert counsel in all things digital which is stimulating our business. Our digital practice grew by 130%. Traditional media continues to be a mainstay of our overall media activity.

“Our tagline, ‘The power of Specialized Thinking,’ reflects our depth in key practice areas and is the foundation of our growth. We personify deep specialization in Health, Finance, Technology and Energy. Clients are drawn to and have come to depend on our laser-like focus in these areas.

“Our track record includes closing one-third of all sales leads in the past year. In addition, existing clients increased fees by 30%.

“Clients more than ever are interested in measurement of PR efforts. Different metrics are used for different clients. Sales visibility, legislation passed, and social media metrics are among the measurement tools used. In our newest Change Management practice, measurements are often via internal surveys.”

Formula Public Relations, No. 29, +31.1% to $11,565,878

Michael Olguin
Michael Olguin, president, said the firm, which is 20 years old this year, owes its double-digit growth to a diverse integrated marketing offering that includes media relations, blogger/influencer programs, social media, brand activation, and co-branding partnerships.

There was a 48% increase in its business technology division. The newly launched consumer technology practice had a 126% growth as it added such brands as Qualcomm and Victorinox Swiss Army.

Account wins in 2011 included Belkin, Ormco, PERT Plus, Shure and TRYP by Wyndham. Additional project work came from clients including Kashi, DTS and Behr Paint. Formula’s three offices on both coasts will help the firm to continue its growth pattern, said Olguin. He noted the firm has a strong record for client retention.

Black Twig Communications, No. 33, +28% to $10,040,000.

Bruce Kupper, partner, business development, said, “Clients today are seeking tangible and measurable results from their public relations efforts. We have developed protocols that measure the relationship between coverage and prospect development, as well as between placements and sales cycle time reductions.

“These types of measurements demonstrate clear return-on-investment values and have convinced clients that their investments are not only working, but are exceeding the rate of success of traditional advertising vehicles.”

Davies Murphy Group, No. 38, +36% to $8,873,415

Eric Davies, Andy Murphy
Davies, Murphy
Eric Davies and Andy Murphy, principals of Davies Murphy Group, say its growth rate is due its record of consistently exceeding client expectations rather than any pro-active new business effort.

“For better or worse, we don’t do any PR or marketing for ourselves, relying 100% on word-of-mouth as our sole channel for new clients,” said Davies.

Last year’s growth was propelled by the firm’s track record, he added.

“Client contacts who left one company for another called us and brought us to their new companies. Contacts in one division of a company recommended us to colleagues in another who then brought us in. This happened over and over again.

“The bottom line is that our growth over the last several years -- and last year in particular -- is a wonderful affirmation of the golden rule. If you take good care of clients, they’ll take good care of you," he said.

Airfoil Public Relations, No. 41, +19% to $8,127,627

Janet Tyler
Janet Tyler, co-CEO of Airfoil, said the firm added significant new clients as well as organic growth to chalk up a 19% gain and coupled this with efficient cost models and sound budgeting.

“We made substantial investments toward increasing our social and digital capabilities to provide additional value to our clients and reorganized our business to a portfolio model to better manage existing and new accounts,” she said.

Significant investments were made in sales and marketing, introducing a dedicated business development executive, conducting extensive brand evaluation, staff training and incentive programs.

“We also finalized plans for improvements to both domestic office facilities (Southfield, Mich., and Mountain View, Calif.) and laid the groundwork for expansion into international markets, work that will be operationalized in 2012,” she said.

Launch Squad, No. 44, +30% to $7,573,405

Jason Mandell
Jason Mandell, co-founder and partner, said specific areas of growth came from the maturation of the firm’s in-house video production and content services, which is now a group of 12; strong growth in the firm’s East Coast offices, especially in Boston which was opened in 2010, and expansion of it overall PR business to include a variety of emerging consumer brands such as, Cut The Rope, and American Giant as well as larger companies such as Scripps Networks and Tibco.

The latter are using Launch Squad for their newest and more innovative brands, said Mandell.

The firm continues to expand in the content area, unveiling a new firm called “Original9 Media,” which is a team of stratgist, writer and editors who are building media properties for clients on various digital platforms.
An example of a property Launch Squad created is which it operates for client Personal Capital.

Development Counsellors Int'l, No. 46, +22% to $7,242,953

Andy Levine
Andy Levine, president and chief creative officer, said key new business wins for 2011 included the North Carolina Office of Tourism (working in partnership with Charlotte-based Luquire, George and Andrews), Scottish Development International, Chattanooga Area Visitors Bureau, Michigan Economic Development Corporation (working on a subcontract basis to Weber Shandwick), Birmingham Business Alliance and the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation.

Levine said a number of current clients also opted to expand existing contracts by taking advantage of DCI offerings beyond traditional media relations services. That included digital media, executive surveys/audits, talent attraction programs, prospect development/qualification services and destination representation within the travel trade are among the expanded offerings.

DCI also acquired Mondotels, a market leader in the so-called MICE marketing sector -- meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions. Levine said the 31-year-old firm connects and interacts with U.S.-based international buyers selling conventions, congresses, association events, corporate meetings, product launches and incentives for international destinations. Current clients include Scotland, Melbourne, Dubai, Milan, Monaco and Copenhagen.

Merritt Group, No. 47, +15.7% to $7,169,638

Ben Merritt
CEO Ben Merritt said “Innovation is booming and driving double digit growth across a number of industry sectors including government, healthcare, energy and clean tech, enterprise security and software services.

“Innovations in science and technology are re-shaping the landscape, creating a slew of hot new companies and a robust venture capital market. Established and emerging companies are defining the next generation. Their vision will benefit our entire society across all industries and markets.

“It’s not only about public relations, but understanding audiences and the best way to reach them through strategic integrated marketing campaigns that blend creative services, PR, research and social media into well executed strategies through thought leadership campaigns to reach target audiences.

“Delivering compelling content is key, and PR firms have a distinct advantage. Merritt Group, with offices in Reston, Va., and San Francisco, is a national strategic communications firm with industry practices in government, security, enterprise technology, healthcare, telecommunications, energy/clean tech, and research measurement and analysis.”

Bliss PR, No. 52, +17.0 to $5,965,000

John Bliss
John Bliss, founding principal, said strong revenue growth in 2011 came from expansion of traditional PR services to existing clients and delivery of integrated communications services such as strategy, PR, digital, crisis and investor relations to new and existing clients. Growth in traditional PR was strongest in the professional services sector.

New client revenue came from two core areas—healthcare and digital. The firm launched a new specialty healthcare practice in January 2011, BlissHealth which provides communications strategy, key opinion leader programs, media relations, investor/analyst relations, digital media, crisis communication and patient communication to organizations across the healthcare continuum.

Also expanded were digital offerings in content marketing, SEO and analytics.

A privately-held global services firm named Bliss as its digital agency-of-record in the first quarter of 2012. Digital services were expanded to the firm’s core financial services, accounting, consulting and advisory clients.

By the end of 2011, about 80% of the firm’s work was an integrated mix of strategy, traditional PR and digital marketing services.

Morgan & Myers, No. 59, +42% to $5,497,316

Tim Oliver
Morgan & Myers president Tim Oliver said the firm is “especially good at building consumer trust of food: from pasture to plate. As a result, our growth is coming from both food and agricultural clients. We’re helping them make more trust bank deposits with customers in ways that also strengthen their brand assets.

“We’ve done a lot of research in this area to better understand consumer food concerns and identify messages and mediums that resonate, especially with moms. Moms are very open to learning about farmers and farming practices but they just don’t have a way to connect with farmers.

“So we’re building bridges to do that. Right now, we’re using social media and experiential marketing to create meaningful experiences for moms. It’s all about being transparent, demonstrating that you have nothing to hide and being relevant to the food conversations moms are having today.

“What sets us apart is that our firm is full of people who share a passion for both agriculture and food, so this work is very meaningful to us.”

rbb Public Relations, No. 60, +22% to $5,407,254

Christine Barney
rbb Public Relations CEO Christine Barney said that more than 75% of the firm’s record growth of 22% came from current clients. “Our commitment is to love the one you’re with,” she said.

This includes “keeping ideas fresh and staying relevant with existing clients by providing new offerings coupled with the firm’s relentless focus on service and obtaining measurable results.”

She said rbb has a growing reputation as the “champion of national break-out brands.” This helped to score key wins with DHL Express, the American Council on Exercise, Gol TV and Duncan Hines.

rbb launched its “break out” brand positioning as the result of an analysis showing that clients and prospects are “eager to break out from the pack not only in terms of market share but reputation as well,” said Barney.

“We help clients to challenge the competition and the status quo,” she added.

Gibraltar Associates, No. 65, +25% to $4,918,650

Eric Bovim
CEO and co-founder Eric Bovim said the firm registered its fourth straight year of double-digit growth by the addition of retainer-based clients and the acquisition of The Wade Group.

“We fortified Gibraltar’s public affairs offering and demonstrated our commitment to adding the right pieces at the right times to support our vision of becoming one of the top agencies in the nation,” he said at the time of the Wade acquisition.

Crisis veteran Terry Wade, who became a partner, has more than four decades of experience in media, politics and PR gained from stints at Cohn & Wolfe and Burson-Marsteller, he noted.

Also joining the firm in the COO slot was Kelley McCormick from Qorvis. A 20-year veteran, she had also worked at Weber Shandwick/Powell Tate and Ketchum.

Clients of Gibraltar include ACADEMI, American Gaming Association, Dole Food Company, Inc., Food Allergy Initiative, GeoEye, Gilead Sciences, Hospira, The J.M. Smucker Company and Teva Pharmaceuticals.

Intermarket Communications, No. 66, +23.1% to $4,837,425

Martin Mosbacher
The 23% growth to just under $5 million is a “high water mark” for Intermarket which had a down year in 2009 for the first time in more than a decade due to the global financial crisis.

Growth came evenly from existing and new clients, said Martin Mosbacher, CEO of the 25-year-old firm.

“Our book of business is extremely balanced right now with buy-side and sell-side, institutional and retail, technology and service providers all in the mix,” he said.

A major client is Nestle, nutrition, health and wellness company. More than 25 clients are on an annual retainer, the most in the firm’s history. No single client accounts for more than 10% of revenues.

For most of its history Intermarket operated as a consultancy, restricting the number of clients to those that could be handled by the founding partners.

“We have now built a strong and deep management team which has allowed us to shift to an agency model and which has led to our rapid growth,” said Mosbacher.

Revive Public Relations, No. 68, +23.0 to $4,600,000,

Brandon Edwards
Brandon Edwards, CEO of Revive Public Relations, said the firm’s “23 percent growth in 2011 was the result of strong demand for our deep knowledge and expertise in the healthcare industry.

“Demand was strong in all customer segments – health Services, HIT and healthy living. Healthcare providers turned to Revive in record numbers for our proven approach to winning the PR battle during difficult payer contract negotiations.

“We saw significant growth in our healthy living practice, providing communication strategies to help providers, employers and other health service companies communicate around wellness, disease management and population health. Demand remained high for crisis, issues management, rebranding, M&A and organizational change support.

“The firm experienced a serious uptick in our employer engagement, engagement marketing, and behavior-change communication strategies. Huge changes in healthcare scream for strategic communication support. Our growth is a direct result of our ability to translate those complex changes into simple English and yield results for our clients.”

Linhart Public Relations, No. 69, +11% to $4,599,067

Sharon Linhart
Linhart’s 11% growth in 2011 was due to "increased responsibilities from existing clients and a few great new additions to our roster," said CEO Sharon Linhart. "We've enjoyed the growing emphasis on social media measurement in addition to employee communications."

Additional work came from clients including Crocs and White Wave Foods. New accounts included Celestial Seasonings.

A formal digital practice was launched to handle online needs of clients.

“We have a collaborative, transparent culture that attracts and retains the best talent, which in turn leads to highly satisfied people and clients,” she said.

Jones Public Affairs, No. 73, +149% to $4,272,403

“It’s been an exciting year for us,” said Carrie Jones, principal/managing director of Jones Public Affairs, which racked up a 149% spurt in 2011 to $4.2 million, the biggest percentage gain in the top 100.
She cites a new office in Cambridge, Mass., to go with the Washington, D.C., h.q.

Federal government and healthcare clients boosted revenues.

“A key factor in our growth is increasing client appetite for high-impact approaches,” she said. “Our influencer relations model achieves that by leveraging five domains for successful healthcare communications, which work both individually and interdependently. This allows us to craft targeted, data-driven strategies to reach the stakeholders who facilitate change and engage others within their fields.

“At the core of JPA’s continued success is our commitment to providing the highest quality services to our clients. Not only do w treat every aspect of our clients’ business as we do our own, we partner with our clients during every stage of a campaign to ensure our work meets their unique needs.”

Before founding Jones PA in 2007, Jones was at Ogilvy PR Worldwide working on an array of pharmaceutical, government and non-profit clients and at Edelman’s D.C. office. She developed numerous PA initiatives in the areas of advocacy, consumer education, social marketing, policy, product support and launch, image development and media relations.

A native of North Dakota, Carrie received a B.A. in mass communication and political science from Moorhead State University. Previous posts were as a legislative aide to Senator Byron Dorgan of N.D. and as a government affairs associate for the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists.

Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock, No. 77, +16.5% to $3,828,297

David Jarrard
David Jarrard, principal and one of the founders of JPC&H, said the healthcare focus of the firm is driving growth.

“It’s all we do,” he said, “and our dedicated focus is very attractive to industry leaders during a time when the entire $2.7 trillion healthcare sector is undergoing massive change.”

“Our niche in the industry is facilitating change in the ‘provider’ sector—the hospitals, clinics and others who directly serve patients. We find again and again that these leadership teams want experts instead of generalists when they need help through a high stakes transition, such as the acquisition, sale or closure of a hospital, for example.

“Change is happening so fast in every market that there is little time to waste. Like other industries facing a high-energy moment, the leaders want a team with zero learning curve, who know the language, the issues, and pressure points. That’s our bread and butter.”

He sees a bright future for the firm as “evolution in the hospital industry accelerates. The implementation of national healthcare reform, market consolidations, payer pressures and a still-weak economy are feeding the speed of change.”

Dodge Communications, No. 79, +25.3% at $3,602,980

Brad Dodge
CEO Brad Dodge said the Alpharetta, Ga.-based firm is at the crossroads of B-to-B technology and B-to-B healthcare as both industry sectors experience "seismic change and terrific growth, and innovative companies of all types and sizes are clamoring to get more deeply entrenched to take advantage of opportunities."

Dodge works exclusively with healthcare companies helping them grow through integrated PR and marketing programs.

"We’re a ten year old agency with 30 employees, and we’re proud to have all of our disciplines under one roof -- from designers and web developers to media relations and copywriters," he said. "Nearly half of our new business last year resulted from growth of our existing clients."

Dodge said the biggest challenge in 2011 (and now continuing in 2012) is finding "excellent people to continue to deliver our domain expertise, creative execution and great client service."

Schneider Associates, No. 86, +17% to $3,394,599

Joan Schneider
Fueling growth at the firm, said Joan Schneider, president and creative director, was the launch of a new company structure facilitated by organizational consultant Marti Smye, Ph.D.

Instead of principals leading the practice areas, the executive team switched jobs, making room to promote from within or recruit new directors and VPs to manage and develop business for public affairs, professional services, home products, food & retail, creative services and digital strategy.

“This new structure was an instant success in expanding the leadership and client base,” she said.

“The partners were also energized by changing chairs and expanding the firm’s areas of expertise. As a result, SA was able to deliver even more innovative and integrated campaigns by offering enhanced social and digital strategies which are fast becoming a core component of the PR business. SA’s thought leadership in 'Launch Public Relations' continues to attract both entrepreneurial and established brands as clients," she added.

Dukas Public Relations, No. 87, +22.1% to $3,389,000

Richard Dukas
“We grew rapidly in 2011 because of the strong demand from financial, asset management and professional service firms for ongoing top-tier media relations,” said Richard Dukas, president and CEO of the firm.

“Despite a realignment of the media environment and the explosion of social media, DPR continues to see strong demand from clients that hire a PR firm because they want media coverage in the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, New York Times, Financial Times, CNBC and Bloomberg—they want to be out front of the people who make the investing and buying decisions.

He said DPR has also become the “go-to” firm for the many companies that don’t want to spend $250K and up per year that the larger PR agencies often charge.

“The explosion of mobile devices, combined with the increase in corporate IT spending, also is creating a strong demand for the services of our tech practice," said Dukas.

Borders + Gratehouse, No. 89, +66.3% to $2,982,627

Carol Carrubba
Carol Carrubba, principal of B+G, said the focus of the firm continues to be on “smart, controlled growth by carefully evaluating each prospect and creating a true partnership with clients that value a collaborative, creative and future-forward approach to communications.

“B+G’s commitment to communications programs that drive business results resonates with emerging leaders in technology, especially where the pace of innovation is taking off,” she said.

“We continue to hone our core competencies in cloud technologies, SaaS for SMBs and consumer green technologies, and look forward to adding new talent and new client partners to the B+G family this year.”

O’Malley Hansen Communications, No. 90, + 23.7% to $2,950,000

Todd Hansen
Todd Hansen, principal, said that while social media are driving agency growth, clients are also seeking creativity in the social media universe.

“This has enabled us to design and execute innovative, large-scale programs that have taken us into new areas of marketing. In addition, the emergence of Facebook as a primary communications tool between brands and consumers has created a need for specialized communicators who can handle both strategic development and tactical execution.

“Our clients are also emphasizing employee engagement more regularly. Due to the unpredictable business environment, it’s becoming more important to communicate priorities more specifically to the employee base so they have an understanding of the company’s goals and better direction on how to contribute.

“Finally, we are benefitting from the enthusiasm of small companies, which are driving innovation into their products and want to let the world know about it.”

Brandware Public Relations, No. 93, + 12.4% to $2,569,639

Elke Martin
“Social and digital media have been key factors in driving fresh opportunities our way,” said Elke Martin, principal. “We’ve added a senior level digital/social media manager position to lead the charge toward the end of 2010. While the majority of our clients continue to discover Brandware PR via referrals or through out own networks, our investment in promoting the firm is definitely helping to fuel agency awareness and consideration. We think our growth story is really just in Foreward phase.

Martin said the firm has just started a marketing program for itself after 22 straight years of almost exclusively organic growth. It is participating for the first time in national rankings and awards programs. “We’ve been the proverbial cobbler when it comes to telling our own story,” she said.

Bateman Group, No. 94, +28% to $2,337,557

Fred Bateman
Fred Bateman, CEO and founder, said agency growth was helped by being “more selective in terms of what new business leads to go after.”

He said the firm is “trying to stay true to our agency core value of ‘never take on a boring client just for the revenue,’ a task not always easy to do.”

The firm “aggressively pursued desired clients” which resulted in a win/lose ratio of nine wins and one undecided during the second half of 2011. That record “increased the firm’s confidence tremendously,” he said.

Bateman benefitted from the tech resurgence in its hometown of San Francisco and its Brooklyn office “feasted” on the burgeoning tech market in New York.

Clients are now looking for services that a few years ago “weren’t even on the rate card,” he said. “Clients turn to their PR firms to run corporate blogs, manage social media channels and create eBooks, viral videos, custom research surveys, info graphics and cartoon series,” he said. “This wasn’t the case just a few years ago when things were more in silos and PR firms were expected to do just PR.”

The Hodges Partnership, No.96, +21% to $2,027,553

Jon Neuman
Partner Jon Newman said the firm’s belief is that doing “great work” is the best way to attract clients. The 17-member staff was expanded to include those with fashion, luxury goods and business-to-business backgrounds.

Growth came in social media consulting and digital and this trend will continue, said Newman. “Our business is changing and that intersection of PR, social and digital is our sweet spot.”

The firm, founded in 2002 by Newman and Josh Dare, is named after Brooklyn Dodger great and manager of the 1969 World Series champion New York Mets manager Gil Hodges.

Said Newman: “Josh and I were looking for an intersection of our lives and it is the 1969 Mets. We have lots of Gil memorabilia at the agency and two seats at Shea.”

J Public Relations, No. 100, +63.8% to $1,714,992

J PR's Sarah Evans (managing partner), Jamie Lynn Sigler (partner) and Guyader (partner)
Founding partner Kim Guyader said the firm is “incredibly proud of its growth in the past 12 months.” It registered the second biggest percentage gain among the 100 largest firms in the rankings.

“As a true bi-coastal firm, with offices in New York and Southern California, we are uniquely positioned to provide our travel, hospitality and luxury lifestyle clientele with customized, comprehensive PR campaigns and access to coverage in key media markets.

“We believe our success and growth can be directly attributed to the unbridled passion, enthusiasm and expertise our team brings to each of our client and media relationships, resulting in true collaboration designed to deliver top level results.

“The years we have spent cultivating and nurturing our enviable list of national and international first-class media contacts have provided invaluable return to our clients and serve as a testament to our core agency belief: that relationships, quite simply, are everything.

“Having added several new international travel clients to our roster overt the past year, our portfolio continues to expand, solidifying our reputation as one of the top hospitality PR firms in the country.”

Open Channels, No. 105, +21.5% to $1,271,243

Tonya Veasey
Partner Tonya Veasey said OCG’s steady growth is fueled by its expertise in healthcare, family entertainment and other areas as well as its niche in multicultural/diversity communications.

“Our reputation is that of a forward-thinking, innovative, growing agency that works hard to exceed client expectations,” said Veasey.

The firm is expanding digital services.

“We place a premium on demonstrating the results of our work, delivering detailed reports and metrics to clients on the impact and reach of communication efforts,” she said. “OCG understands that as digital increasingly drives the public dialog, robust social media and interactive communications strategies are vital to accomplishing business objectives of clients.”

Red Sky Public Relations, No. 107, +23% to $1,239,978

Jessica Flynn
CEO Jessica Flynn said Red Sky, founded in 2008, has grown “by having a nimble team of communicators with various backgrounds: corporate communication, internal communications, social media strategy, marketing communication, event management, media relations, and journalism.”

“Industries that once existed in their own silos—advertising, marketing, PR—now have overlapping strategies and tactics,” she notes. “That blurring of boundaries enabled Red Sky to stake a position as a true strategic communications show that is tactically-agnostic and focused on designing strategies that address business needs.

“We believe in the power of culture and collaboration. While there are various levels of experience within the firm, we operate as a flat, open-book firm with everyone having access to and knowledge of business goals and revenue targets. By empowering everyone to have a role in the agency’s success, they are better attuned to opportunities for efficiency, creativity and new business.”l

Rankings by city/geography and category of PR practice will be released over the next two weeks.