PR firms either specializing in tech or with big tech practices showed major growth in 2011 as tech companies grappled with selling and explaining complicated products to a blizzard of audiences, according to the O'Dwyer technology rankings released today.

Edelman, whose overall growth rate in 2011 was +15.9% to $604 million, had a 24.3% spurt in tech to $126,752,418.

Others big gainers included:

APCO Worldwide, +24.6% to $31,080,000

Atomic PR, +35% to $12,006,603

Sparkpr, +17% to $10,396,043

Davies Murphy Group, +36% to $8,883,415

Airfoil PR, +19% to $8,127,627

MWW Group, +16% to $7,603,000

Launch Squad, + 30% to $7,573,405

Merritt Group, +15.7% to $6,573,638

Allison & Partners, + 30% to $6,300,000

Makovsky + Co., +66% to $3,000,000

Borders & Gratehouse, +66% to $2,982,627

Bateman Group, +28% to $2,337,557

Catapult PR-IR, +24% to $1,044,924.

Demand High for Tech PR

“Technology has transcended IT,” said Pete Peterson, global technology chair of Edelman.

“It now impacts every facet of our lives and is fundamentally changing nearly every industry,” he added. “As a result, tech companies must now engage with an ever growing number of customers and stakeholders. As consultants, our mission is to help clients navigate this complexity in a way that drives positive commercial, reputational and regulatory outcomes.”

Kimberly Davis, senior VP and head of the technology practice of Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, which had $59,305,000 in tech fees, said the firm “Touches every level of the IT technology stack from silicon up to the application layer.

“We work with innovators in ‘new’ industries such as clean energy and ‘old’ industries such as aerospace, telecommunications and diagnostic imaging. We help deliver in-depth stories around innovation and change that move markets and crown leaders…we help companies to shift the industry dialogue, drive adoption of new products and ideas, and, ultimately achieve real and lasting business success—increased sales,” she said.

Aedhmar Hynes, CEO of Text 100, which grew 10% to $50,425,771, said the firm has invested heavily in developing integrated marketing and communications services to meet the demand for social media and digital expertise from clients and prospects.

She said Text 100’s “core expertise” in tech has been applied to adjacent markets such as energy, automotive, aviation, travel and tourism.

“By expanding beyond the tech sector, we have been able to market our integrated services to a new range of prospects leading to growth in all major regions—Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East an Africa and North America,” she said.

APCO Sees Global Need; Atomic Up 35%

Garry Walsh, APCO’s managing director for Southeast Asia and global lead on the firm’s work for Microsoft, said the technology sector worldwide is going through a “complex period of tremendous change.”

“We have seen growth and deregulation in some areas coupled with increased scrutiny and regulation in others,” he added. “What is clear is that no other industry is as fast-moving as the technology sector. The ability to anticipate new trends in business is especially critical to this sector. We have many years of experience advising some of the world’s largest players in this industry and we also work with clients in the start-up and early phases of development.”

Andy Getsey, co-founder and CEO of Atomic PR, said its 35% growth was propelled by new clients in consumer tech as well as specialized tech.

The “pure consumer” assignments came from clients such as Bertazzoni and Cabot Creamery.

Growth is also coming from the firm’s “broadening, creative and effective use of analytics and the launch of sister agency H3O Communications.”

All-Tech Firms Prosper

Good years were posted by many firms only doing tech including Borders + Gratehouse, San Francisco, growing 66% to $2,982,627.

Founded in 2008 by Emily Borders, Kathleen Gratehouse and Carol Carrubba, the principals say it practices “smart, controlled growth” which means “evaluating each prospect and building partnerships with clients focused on collaboration, creativity and a shared definition of success.”

“We provide innovative service offerings like content development, social media and data campaigns that differentiate and create meaningful business results for our portfolio of high growth clients,” said Carrubba.

Others with all-tech practices include Spark PR, Hoffman Agency, Davis Murphy Group, Airfoil PR, Horn Group, Launch Squad, Matter Communications, Trylon SMR and Catapult PR-IR.

Social Media “Craze” Deplored by Trufelman

Lloyd Trufelman, president of Trylon SMR, New York, said too many PR pros “have gone crazy over social media often at the expense of mainstay media.” Some marketers have even turned entirely to Facebook and Twitter without any PR expertise in the mix, he said.

“Most viral news memes still originate and/or are amplified via mainstream digital and analog platforms,” he added. “The explosion of media outlets requires that PR efforts be spread across multiple platforms. Almost everything is promotable now because there are media channels interested in reporting on topics no matter how obscure.”

“Another trend that might be heading in the wrong direction,” he continued, “is the rush by PR pros to get into content creation. Until recently, this was called ‘advertorial.’ Clients want it and it can generate lots of billable hours but it doesn’t create valid third party credibility.”

Edelman, New York, $126,752,418

Pete Pederson
Pete Pederson, global technology chair at Edelman, said “At the core of Edelman’s tech practice are people who deeply understand the bits and the bytes. It’s a nuanced environment and one that changes very quickly, so we place a high value on talent with real tech chops. If we’re doing our jobs right, we’re just as likely to be giving counsel to engineers and developers as we are to the communications team. In tech, what a company says and what it actually does need to be tightly aligned.

“While technical acumen gives us credibility, it’s our integrated approach that drives value for Edelman clients. We frequently draw on world-class expertise in social media, brand marketing, healthcare, public affairs and corporate communications to field diverse teams that think through client challenges in new and interesting ways. For example, we recently developed a special unit focused on Data Security & Privacy. In this space, the issues are layered and intricate, thus requiring a blend of skill sets.”

“From innovative startups to well-established market leaders, our philosophy is the same: Put the client first, build the right team, align on objectives, and commit to mutual success.”

Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, Bellevue, WA, $59,305,000

Kim Davis
Kimberly Davis, senior VP and head of the technology practice, said the firm, with 28 years of experience in the technology sector, “is at the forefront of important technological advances that change the world. Our vision—to be the recognized leader in communicating world-changing innovations that influence markets, inspire people and improve lives—guides the work we do with world-leading brands including 3M, GE Healthcare, HIT, MercyCorps, Texas Instruments DLP and T-Mobile USA.

“From GUI to 64-bit computing, aeronautics to photovoltaic, it’s all part of our vernacular and skill set. We help standards bodies and trade associations promulgate new standards, align with regulatory agencies and build global markets.

“We’ve been to Switzerland with the world Radio Congress to discuss spectrum allocation, involved at foundational levels with hot-button issues such as digital broadcast standards, and helped clients define next-generation solutions that shape how technology is created, deployed and utilized. Technology innovation is truly our heritage and our passion.”

Text 100 Global Public Relations, New York, $50,425,771

Aedhmer Hynes
Aedhamar Hynes, CEO, said the firm has invested heavily in the past few years in developing integrated marketing and communications services to meet the increasing demands for social media and digital expertise from 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 us this expertise to capitalize on new opportunities with a growing range of prospects spanning across multiple industry sectors.”

APCO Worldwide, Washington, D.C., $31,080,000

Garry Walsh
Gary Walsh, managing director for Southeast Asia and global lead on APCO’s work for Microsoft, said the firm has been supporting and advising Microsoft since 2001 on corporate citizenship, regulatory matters, government relations and communications across markets in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas. Other tech clients include eBay and Hewlett Packard.

“Our tech practice had another successful year in 2011 with significant new client projects won around the world and the expansion of several existing accounts to new markets. A good example of the latter is our work for Applied Materials, the worldwide manufacturer of solar cell, semi-conductor and micro-chip production machineries. Over the past few years we have had great success supporting their government relations priorities in the European Union and 2011 saw our account expand to provide strategic counsel and regulatory consulting to help them grow their business in China.”

Atomic Public Relations, San Francisco, $12,006,603

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 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,” he said.

Sparkpr, San Francisco, $10,396,043

Alan Soucy
Alan Soucy, CEO of Sparkpr, which has specialized in tech since its founding in 1999, said it has handled clients ranging from stealth start-ups to Fortune 500 global public companies. “We have supported tech companies through launches, growth, and acquisitions and IPOs and we’re known for our expertise in social media programs,” he said.

Specialized practice areas focus on consumer tech, digital media & advertising, ecommerce, enterprise & IT, financial services, gaming, green tech, media & entertainment, mobile & wireless, music, social media and venture capital.

Current clients include Barclaycard US, blinkx, Etsy, Good Technology, Greylock Partners, Hootsuite, NEA, Nielsen, Pinnacle Engines, Rdio, Spiceworks, SugarCRM, “The Today Show,” Vevo and Virgin Green Fund.

Sparkpr won TechCrunch’s ‘Crunchie Award’ for best overall U.S. technology firm. Inc Magazine has named it one of the fastest growing privately held companies three years in a row and the San Francisco Business Times in 2010 and 2011 recognized it as one of the Bay Area’s “Best Places to Work.”

Branch offices are in New York, London and Cape Town.

Davies Murphy Group, Burlington, MA, $8,883,415

Eric Davies, Andy Murphy
Davies with principal Andy Murphy
"At Davies Murphy Group, tech PR isn’t one of our practice areas – it’s our only practice area," says founder Eric Davies. "We work with technology giants like IBM and Comcast, as well as earlier stage companies like Veeam and Brainshark, and we provide a wide range of services including PR (media relations, analyst relations, social media, speaking programs, and awards programs), marketing (lead generation programs, collateral development, event management, messaging and positioning, SEO/SEM), and business strategy (product strategy, market development, M&A strategy)."

The agency was started in 1998 with an exclusive focus on technology because, for the previous decade, Davies (whose roots are in IT and software engineering) had been the client of PR agencies, and felt that most agencies weren’t well equipped to represent technology companies.

"In today’s media environment, where so much of the emphasis is on content creation, and so much of the coverage depends on being able to tie clients’ technologies to industry issues and trends, you really can’t staff or operate a tech PR agency the way you would a consumer or general purpose PR agency," says Davies. "You need senior, experienced people who not only understand PR and marketing, but who have a real in-depth understanding of a broad range of technologies."

Finn Partners, New York, $8,700,000

Solomon, Young
Solomon, Young
Practice heads Howard Solomon, Managing Partner, and Alicia Young, Managing Partner, said “Exceeding client expectations is the hallmark of the Finn Partners technology team. It includes the dedicated mobile/telecom group led by industry figure Christine Bock.

“We work with companies—large and lean, storied and start-up—that share a common objective: to build and mold our technological future,” said Solomon and Young.

Both are strategic counselors and program execution partners. “Our track record is that we deliver award-winning programs and measurable results that serve client business goals and positively impact their bottom line.” Recent clients range from Marvell and IEEE to Logitech, Rovi, AVG, Carbonite and Vonage.

Here’s their description of how Finn Partners works: “We do it all: soften a market for product introduction; drive media visibility; translate sales success into broad-based global communications programs; formulate executive issues platforms that demonstrate true thought-leadership; and, grow brand equity through smart, integrated campaigns.”

Solomon and Young say today's environment requires a PR firm that is a true partner, providing not only functional components, but the insights and innovative thinking to guide often complex technology campaigns. “We partner where we can make a difference, with our feet firmly set in the present, but our imaginations focused on the future,” they said.

LaunchSquad, San Francisco, $7,573,405

Jason Mandell, co-founder and partner, said, “The PR landscape is changing dramatically, and for obvious reasons technology PR is at the forefront of that. In the face of this change, agencies must be nimble, cutting edge, and innovative in the way we're getting our clients' messages across. We can't just give lip service to it; we need to build our businesses around it.

“At LaunchSquad, we're working with companies that are doing things that have never been done before, and as such, it is imperative that we find new ways to get their stories to the market in a way their audiences will pay attention to. We're focused on embracing innovation and finding new ways to deliver results and value to clients. We must dive into and understand these new channels, and help our clients participate and lead interactive conversations that exist in our new hyper-digital and social world.

“With this in mind, over the past several years we have evolved and enhanced our services in very profound ways. Our firm is optimized to serve emerging and fast-growing companies that are creating new markets and disrupting old ones in ways that map to this new media landscape. Over 20% of our staff today is involved full-time in non-traditional PR services such as video production and content marketing. It's what our clients are looking for, and it's what we need to do if we're going to continue to drive value and results for our clients.

Airfoil Public Relations, Detroit, $8,127,627

Janet Tyler, co-CEO of Airfoil, said the firm added significant new clients as well as organic growth to obtain a 19% gain in 2011.

“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 offices at Southfield, Mich., and Mountain View, Calif., and laid the groundwork for expansion into international markets, work that will be implemented in 2012,” she said.

The Horn Group, San Francisco, $7,900,000

Sabrina Horn, president and CEO, said the “most exciting development” at the firm is its “transition from a pure PR agency to a fully integrated digital communications firm."

"PR can no longer operate in a silo," she said. "Companies today need communications programs that have a stronger connection to their brand and utilize more, and different, channels at different times. That’s why we’ve been growing our Interactive group and working with each employee to ensure that they have the advanced social media skills our clients require.”

About 75% of client work involves integrated programs that combine PR, social and interactive services, said Horn. Her firm has developed an approach called SENSE that she said helps clients to strategically apply services and tactics into integrated campaigns that achieve business goals.

Said Horn: “We’ve even gone so far as to weave our Interactive talent into every client engagement, better supporting our clients’ larger marketing efforts. The results speak for themselves.

"Our sector focus continues to be in digital media/publishing, enterprise/Software as a Service (SaaS) and consumer e-commerce," she said. Recent clients have included The New York Times, ServiceNow and Gannett Corp., along with new additions ParkatmyHouse, Avantgate, Axcient and The firm helps both young and mature companies solve their communications challenges.

Horn said the firm is answering client global needs by expanding its Oriella international network of agencies. Co-founded with UK partner Brands2Life, Oriella now has 16 independent agencies in 23 countries, the latest one being EASTWEST PR in China and Singapore.

“There is a new wind in our sails, both as an industry and as an economy,” says Horn. “The upcoming slew of IPOs will create a massive influx of capital to help fund many entrepreneurs and their innovations. With innovation we can almost predict forward movement and the reinvention of many existing businesses and industries. I predict a wonderful new era filled with opportunity is upon us. Let us all remember how to navigate such a boom this go around.”

MWW Group, East Rutherford, NJ, $7,603,000

Cohen, Villines
Cohn, Villines
Ephraim Cohen, EVP of technology and digital content, and Eric Villines, senior VP, general manager and deputy head of technology, said MWW approaches content and technology as “two sides of the same problem.”

“We understand how technology and content interact with and reinforce each other, and how customers engage with the final product,” said Cohen. “We know how to reach the influencers who matter most to the brands that are involved and, more importantly, how to engage them in a meaningful dialogue. We execute this in a context that increases the client’s relevance and drives action.”

Creative services of MWW are aimed at “driving the big ideas,” he said.

Event design and management create consumer and influential experiences; trade, business, consumer media and industry analyst relations target the right influencers; social media drives the conversation; enhancing corporate reputation builds trust; community relations leverages influential consumers for insights and amplification.

“All this is driven by a research-based approach that combines both analytics expertise and survey data to execute and measure programs against measurable business and reputation goals,” said Cohen.

Merritt Group, Reston, VA, $6,573,638

Ben Merritt
CEO Ben Merritt said the firm specializes in working with innovative companies in a diverse range of markets, including technology, healthcare, energy and government.

“Our technology practice is focused on creating awareness for companies and organizations providing business-to-business and business-to-government services and products,” he said.

The firm works with a wide range of clients in the technology sector, from early stage, venture-funded startups to established market category leaders. “We understand technology, help our clients make their innovations a reality, create credible and differentiated positions, and continue to establish their market category leadership,” he said. “We work with clients that are committed to the process, have a compelling story to tell, have true substance and sound business models, and view strategic communications as a cornerstone pillar in their marketing mix.”

The firm offers a range of marketing communications services that drive awareness and influence target audiences and markets. “We blend the disciplines of public relations, marketing, creative, digital, Web, social media, video and research,” said Merritt. Offices are in Reston, Va., and San Francisco.

Allison+Partners, San Francisco, $6,300,000

Jonathan Heit
Jonathan Heit, president and senior partner, said tech clients in the past ten years have included MySpace, YouTube, Firefox and Dropbox, giving the firm “a coveted advantage point from which to offer unique insights to clients across all of our practice areas. Our commitment to senior-level talent on all accounts keeps client retention in technology, a notoriously high-turnover category, near industry lows.”

Said Heit: “As access to complex technologies increases, the consumerization of IT has become a recurring theme among those seeking our services in the areas of thought leadership, influencer relations, brand development and product-level support, among many other integrated marketing strategies.

“We help little-known startups trying to debut in a crowded marketplace as well as industry leaders looking to increase market share. Our Brand Innovation Group releases a quarterly trend report that the technology team uses to help shape client initiatives. With clients in nearly all major hardware, software and internet categories, Allison has the ability to assess these trends and apply the findings to specific real-world applications for clients ranging from scrappy startups to complex global organizationd.”

Padilla Speer Beardsley, Minneapolis, $6,026,509

Matt Kucharski
Matt Kucharski, executive VP, said the firm, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, focuses on business-to-business technology, hardware, software and services targeted to a variety of vertical industries, including retail, financial services, healthcare, education, telecom/communications and government.

“We work with technology providers of all sizes – from start-ups to well-established Fortune-ranked organizations. Our core work with B2B tech companies is helping clients deliver complex messages to the audiences critical to their success. This can include customers and prospects, delivery channels, investors, employees, media, analysts or others.

“We’re increasingly leveraging a broad range of communications channels to reach these audiences – whether through traditional publicity, marketing communications, paid advertising, online/digital and social media.

“When it comes to media relations, Padilla taps into our history of publicity expertise. Since our technology clients play in the B2B space, trade media channels are usually a priority. But, B2B companies still have a business story to tell and when appropriate, we leverage our relationships with business and financial media to place our clients in the national spotlight.

“Our proprietary communications planning process ‘Communicating for Action’ [trademark symbol] helps us walk clients through a program that ties the communications deliverables directly back to the company’s business goals. We firmly believe that an effective integrated multi-channel communications program needs to reflect the ultimate goals of the company – it’s knowing how to tie the ends together that trips up most organizations. With more than 300 ‘Communicating for Action’ sessions under our belt, we help clients ensure that the effort and financial resources they invest in communications will be targeted, measurable and successful in moving their business forward.”

Matter Communications, Boston, $5,750,000

Scott Signore, CEO and principal, said clients range from international, well-established brands to venture-funded start-up companies as well as mid-sized, business-to-business technology hardware, software and service providers.

“There’s no question that each of these kinds of clients has a different set of needs depending on their phase of growth,” he said. “Our account teams are made up of people with industry and business acumen who counsel clients and execute programs that yield the right kind of results for each stage of the technology company’s lifecycle. Clients at different stages of maturity concentrate on very different PR strategies, and sometimes very different audiences. Younger companies need to build awareness, increase market share and ‘prove’ their products and services through reviews, use cases and testimonials.

“More established brands need to protect market position, branch into new lines of business and build on customer loyalty while fending off more aggressive competitors. PR is a crucial component in these business goals, and Matter’s results-focused approach enables us to use those goals to guide communications efforts, whether that is through the creation of excellent presentations, or through speaker and media training so that the presentation is delivered flawlessly.”

Matter bases its fee structure on what “works best” in each client case, said Signore. “We work collaboratively with our clients to determine the right budget for the results they need. We don’t adhere to the typical hourly billing rate structure that is the norm in PR agencies, but rather come to a holistic agreement on a retainer fee, that is based on scope of work and goals for results. “

Trade and vertical media are considered crucial to our clients and their business success, but Signore said Matter also works to include clients in a wider variety of publications, especially when larger trends make our clients’ products and services relevant to business publications and consumer-focused outlets.

“Social media channels increase in importance every day,” he said, noting the firm recently announced specifically designed programs to address the importance of social media influencers and the communities that social media create.

Fahlgren Mortine, Columbus, OH, $5,527,786

Neil Mortine
The firm, headed by Neil Mortine, president and CEO, serves a range of technology clients, from emerging to Fortune 500 companies, specializing in information technology, energy and medical technologies. “We believe in entrenching ourselves in our clients’ businesses, market spaces and competitive landscapes,” he said.

Working on a fee or project basis, the firm engages with each client by developing a deep understanding of the technology, its market and its value to provide the foundation for more effective strategy, messaging, media relations and content development, said Mortine.

“It’s that command of the details and issues that lets us confidently and credibly build relationships with IT media and industry analysts,” he added. “It also feeds strong content development, which is often at the heart of integrated media campaigns. With a strong team of seasoned professionals, we are able to ramp up quickly to meet awareness, positioning and lead generation goals through a seamless integration of earned, owned and paid media. We create programs that draw on the full scope of our agency’s capabilities, including advertising, brand planning, media relations, social media, content development, SEO, digital strategy and public affairs.”

Formula Public Relations, San Diego, $3,395,989

Porter, Baker
Porter, Baker
The firm’s tech practice is managed within two divisions. Senior VP Emily Porter heads business/technology and VP Kelly Baker heads consumer/technology.

Said Porter and Baker: “We develop strategic, integrated marketing programs aimed at elevating brand awareness and establishing or reinforcing a leadership position in the marketplace. This is accomplished through a comprehensive mix of media outreach, thought leadership, expert positioning, social media, co-branding partnerships and promotions, and brand activation. The tech practice offers earnings/financial PR support, industry analyst relations, trade show/industry event support, international trade media relations, corporate responsibility and community relations.”

The 20-year-old firm works with both consumer and B2B brands. It has represented start-ups such as Native Union, Avaak, Legend3D and mophie as well as established, blue-chip brands such as Cymer, Belkin. Recent new clients include Qualcomm Enterprise Services (QES), the telematics and fleet management solutions division of Qualcomm; Victorinox Swiss Army; Ormco Corp., maker of advanced orthodontic technology and services, and Shure Inc., the leading maker of microphones and audio electronics.

Coyne Public Relations, Parsippany, NJ, $3,373,000

Coyne, Booth
Coyne, Booth
The firm’s technology group, headed by CEO Tom Coyne and VP Norman Booth, Ph.D., handles both international and domestic corporations including major national brands and innovative start-ups across three segments: enterprise technology, consumer technology, and professional services.

Said Booth: “Our unique strategic planning model drives the adoption of an integrated communications model to go beyond awareness and focus on activating brand stakeholders to drive measurable and positive outcomes. Digital and social media are integrated as core components of our strategy, ensuring that we provide 360-degree communication to reach and activate constituents on multiple levels.

“Our team as extensive experience representing clients in a variety of sectors including consumer and enterprise tech; business and financial communications; tech infrastructure and applications; professional and consulting services; healthcare information tech, and mobility and consumer electronics.

“From creating momentum in advance of a new mobile application launch to promoting breakthrough tech for Qualcomm mobile applications tech, our team possesses a wealth of business and tech experience, which connects key influencers and audiences across the entire business and tech spectrum.”

Makovsky + Co., New York, $3,000,000

Matt Wolfrom
Matt Wolfrom, Executive VP, technology practice, said the technology sector is “a critical driver of rapid, broad-based and sustainable economic growth and competition in the U.S.”

He said the firm’s tech practice is “a battle-tested team of communications experts, experienced in the entire spectrum of technologies that enable our connected world. Whether it’s enterprise IT or network infrastructure, service providers or content players, we are the ideal partner for anyone delivering new forms of information, communication and entertainment.”

Makovsky has handled tech clients for more than 30 years, helping them to launch new strategies, products and services to improve their competitiveness. “We have worked with some of the biggest names in enterprise and consumer technology,” he said. “We know the challenges of distinguishing a brand in this competitive space. We have done it countless times.”

New York, said Wolfrom, has overtaken Boston as the second largest hub for technology venture funding because of the large number of media, fashion and communications companies and because it has an ideal ecosystem for tech founders.

Said Wolfrom: “In today’s market where the recession-weary public is questioning global business, communications programs must be built upon a strong corporate foundation. Therefore, our focus is on creating collaborative relationships between our tech client brands and their most valued customers to engender trust.

“Our work, in collaboration with the Digital + Branding practice, frequently starts with a deep analytical approach to understand what differentiates the brand. It then moves on to developing the brand’s architecture to communicate its story consistently to target audiences across platforms such as corporate web sites, earned media, social platforms and advertisements. This integrated approach shapes public perceptions that affect strategic business outcomes, such as brand awareness, increase in market share, stability during crises, and attracting the best talent.

Makovsky’s market focus includes consumer technology, enterprise, security, mobile & telecommunications and digital media and advertising technology.

Borders + Gratehouse, San Francisco, $2,982,627

Emily Borders, Kathleen Gratehouse, Carol Carrubba
Borders, Gratehouse, Carrubba
Since its founding in 2008, Borders + Gratehouse, a technology and consumer focused communications firm, has emerged as a leader in high-tech public relations and has been growing rapidly ever since. Last year, Borders + Gratehouse increased its overall revenue by 66 percent with significant momentum in cloud solutions from applications to infrastructure. Key to the agency's success has been its ability to provide innovative service offerings like content development, social media and data campaigns that differentiate and create meaningful business results for its portfolio of high growth clients.

The principals, Emily Borders, Kathleen Gratehouse and Carol Carrubba, attribute the agency's smart, controlled growth to carefully evaluating each prospect and building partnerships with clients focused on collaboration, creativity and a shared definition of success.

Coming from media, technology and agency backgrounds, the firm's principals offer a strong set of skills that empower the entire team to build communications programs that drive business results.

Borders joined the world of agency high-tech PR in 1999, helping build brands for emerging growth companies. Prior to PR, she began her career in journalism writing for arts and lifestyle magazine, New West. Gratehouse came to PR from a career as a producer and broadcast journalist for CNN in Washington, D.C. and has since spent a decade on the agency side working with both established brands and emerging technology. Carrubba worked extensively with established brands and emerging growth companies at national and international agencies and in-house at

At Borders + Gratehouse, success follows passion and the team is passionate about innovative companies and fast-paced markets, including cloud, consumer and green technologies. Transcending traditional PR strategies with the same zeal any entrepreneur would bring to their own business is what makes Borders + Gratehouse a different kind of agency.

Ruder Finn, New York, $2,044,000

Jen Long
The firm’s technology & innovation practice, led by by senior VP/director Jen Long, senior VP Dennis Brown and VP Julie Russo, provides global, national and regional communications services
to a variety of enterprise and consumer technology clients.

“Our clients have helped power the cloud, connect people to real-time information and pave the way for entirely new computing models, and our team of passionate storytellers helps these innovative companies to develop and tell their stories through a wide variety of channels,” said Long.

“Regardless of where they are in their company lifecycle, we help technology companies effectively communicate through inevitable company transitions. Whether that be re-defining their market value in the face of growing competition, shining a light on technology innovation, messaging after a merger or acquisition, or breaking into new vertical markets, our Technology & Innovation team develops targeted, integrated strategies,” she said.

Services include corporate messaging and positioning; digital and social media strategy and execution including website design; thought leadership; executive visibility; analyst and influence relations; vertical industry positioning; even support, and regional awareness programs.

RF, Long said, has some of the strongest and highest level media relationships in the industry thanks to its “Media Machine” model of media professionals. Communications capabilities are further enhanced by an in-house team of technical and creative professionals specializing in design, interactive and broadcast, enabling our programs to live in multiple online and offline environments.

Current and recent clients have included Bosch, Experian, HP, Sun Microsystems, Research in Motion, Motorola Solutions, Microsoft, Infor, PARC and the Institute for Large Scale Innovation (ILSI), among many others, across a wide range of enterprise and consumer technology sectors.

Trylon SMR, New York, $1,881,321

Lloyd Trufelman, president, said tech PR practitioners need to embrace digital media but as a complement to traditional media relations tools and techniques, not a replacement.

Said Trufelman: “In a rush to appear au courant, many PR pros have gone crazy over social media, often at the expense of time-honored and still relevant mainstay strategies. Some marketers are relegating the communications function entirely to Facebook and Twitter, without any PR expertise in the mix. Yet, those who rely entirely on Twitter or Facebook to advance their communications goals are drinking Kool-Aid. As the Pew Research Center’s State of the Media report notes, ‘news organizations—old and new—still produce most of the content audiences consume’.

“The most viral news memes still originate and/or are amplified via mainstream media platforms, both digital and analog. There’s still no single magic bullet for communicating. In fact, the increasingly fragmented audiences created as a result of the explosion of media outlets require that PR efforts be spread across multiple platforms. On one hand this may seem overwhelming, but conversely, this proliferation of outlets makes almost everything promotable. It’s hard nowadays to not be able to find a media channel that is interested reporting on a particular topic, no matter how obscure. However, without good news judgment and editorial skills, it doesn’t matter. You’d be surprised how many awful pitches or silly ideas can be expressed in 140 characters.

“As the first PR firm to embrace the blogosphere for media relations purposes, we see many similarities between the blogging craze of the last decade and social media today. Back then many thought that having a blog would take care of all their PR challenges, only to find out the hard way, that other existing media channels were still vital for getting the message out to key constituencies.

“Another current PR trend in the wrong direction is the rush by PR pros to get into the content creation business. Until recently, this kind of work was called an ‘advertorial.’ Yes, clients want it and there’s lots of hours that can be billed while creating and revising corporate blog posts, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. But in the end it doesn’t truly advance communication as here’s no valid third party credibility being created. It’s still better to have a legitimate outside blogger or reporter write or Tweet something about one’s company rather than have the company say it themselves.

“And speaking of billable hours, as Moore’s Law continues to power the tech industry, the disconnect between the news cycle, which has now been digitally accelerated to a real-time dynamic and PR pros still consumed with wasting time and racking up hours via lengthy deliberations and extended approval processes, will continue to widen if not crack. In a flat-out world, delivering consistent, tangible media relations results on a flat retainer basis is the most effective way to demonstrate PR ROI.”

Catapult, Boulder, CO, $1,044,924

The firm, headed by Guy Murrel and Terri Douglas, principals, is a leading tech PR firm in Colorado.

Said Murrel: “We help B2B tech companies to establish market-leading positions through strategic positioning and messaging, aggressive media and industry analyst relations, and social media and community building. That’s why we have the name, ‘Catapult.’”

He said the firm is “expert at coordinating and executing high-impact company/product launches and helping companies build and lead market categories.”

Murrell and Douglas say the firm believes that relationships still matter and that it is vital for companies of all sizes and types to connect with key influencers on a personal level. “The result is clear and consistent messaging to the market, and an ongoing ‘win-win’ relationship that benefits both parties,” said Douglas.

A key component of the firm’s success is partner-level involvement and strategy, they said.