2012 Platinum PR Awards: Large PR Firm of the Year

Co-Winner: Ogilvy Public Relations

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. In 2011 legendary public relations giant Ogilvy celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the birth of founder David Ogilvy by enjoying the most successful year in firm history. Ogilvy’s revenues jumped by 15.7% and profits soared by 32.7%.

A real key to Ogilvy’s longtime success is the loyalty and longevity of its client base. What better endorsement of the quality of Ogilvy’s work than the fact that 23% of its clients have been with the firm for five years or more and many have been loyal for decades.

While Ogilvy has seemingly been around forever, it manages to stay at the forefront of public relations best practices with initiatives like Social@Ogilvy, which connects all of Ogilvy & Mather’s social media experts, and a new emphasis on content marketing, where Ogilvy counsels clients on how to build their own “media companies.” On the client side, 2011 marked some innovative and very effective campaigns.

Ogilvy assisted the IRS in achieving a government mandate that 80% of tax returns are e-filed by 2012, and increased engagement of the tax program FreeFile as a user-friendly option for taxpayers. For the iconic board game Scrabble, the agency raised awareness of the 20th World Scrabble Championships, increasing sales of the game by creating video content from the event.

One of PR News’ 2011 Top Places to Work in PR honorees, Ogilvy invests heavily in employee training, with those mastering state-of-the-art digital techniques earning “Ogilvy Black Belts.” —JG 

Co-Winner: Weber Shandwick

Whether it was executing the fastest launch in PepsiCo history (Pepsi NEXT) or transforming American Airlines customer service through Twitter, Weber Shandwick came up with some of the most innovative and successful public relations campaigns of the past year.

Weber Shandwick added names like Aetna, Diet Pepsi, Fisher Price and Rolls- Royce to a client roster that already included such heavyweights as Eli Lilly, Mars Incorporated, Johnson & Johnson and Goldman Sachs. Weber’s client list now includes 52% of the Fortune 50. Weber Shandwick was particularly proud of the work it did for the United States Army, where it advised on the award-winning Army Strong Stories blog and mega-integrated campaign combining earned media, social media and grassroots outreach to share inside stories of Army life through storytelling and video. 

“Weber Shandwick has been the main communications catalyst in the complete transformation of the U.S. Army’s global social media platform,” says Ben Jasurda, the Army’s chief marketing officer. “When Weber speaks on social media issues, colonels and generals listen.” 

The agency also makes sure its voice is heard via speaking engagements and thought leadership bylined articles. From BlogHer to SXSW, Weber Shandwick’s leaders spoke at over 50 digital events in 2011 and were contributors to outlets such as the Forbes CMO blog, Mashable, The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal and the The Washington Post.

Internally, Weber Shandwick’s “Making A Difference” awards program, in its sixth year, champions employee involvement in their communities through pro-bono/community relations work. Organizations benefiting from our efforts include local community centers, The Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research, War Child, Habitat for Humanity and Big Brothers Big Sisters. —JG 

Honorable Mentions:

Cohn & Wolfe: Opening multiple offices across Asia helped to drive a highly successful 2011 for Cohn & Wolfe. The year saw an 8.4% increase in global revenue and double-digit growth on the bottom line. GolinHarris: The firm underwent a major structural overhaul and all the growing pains that goes with such a change, yet still managed to enjoy an extremely successful year. In the course of the year, GolinHarris added more than 150 new clients and brands, including Alcoa and the Mayo Clinic.

A highlight of the year for Ketchum was helping IBM celebrate its centennial by leveraging the Jeopardy! success of its computer system Watson, a campaign that garnered 1.6 billion impressions. Ketchum achieved the remarkable feat of retaining 100% of its top 50 clients in 2011.

Waggener Edstrom Worldwide: In calendar year 2011, Waggener Edstrom added 94 new clients; this client expansion drove a more-than- two-thirds global proactive win rate. The agency’s recruiting program helped generate more than 250 new regular employee hires in 2011. WE also contributed more than $1.1 million in pro bono work.