2012 Platinum PR Awards: Midsize PR Firm of the Year

Co-Winner: Cone Communications

What do you get when you combine Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert? You get the kind of PR gold mine that helps define Cone Communications as one of the hottest midsize PR firms in the world.

Ben & Jerry’s and Fallon collaborated on a new flavor called Late Night Snack. Boston’s Cone Communications orchestrated the launch of the product which involved a press-only tasting, an on-air launch and an exclusive AP story. The AP story hit the wires concurrently with the on-air announcement. As a follow-up, Fallon made a surprise visit to The Colbert Report, where he orchestrated a face-off against Colbert and his personal Ben & Jerry’s flavor (AmeriCone). The launch and follow-up received huge media attention, reaching over 215 million consumers through 339 placements.

But Cone doesn’t limit itself to B2C clients. In 2011 the agency did work for Xylem Watermark, a spin-off from longtime Cone client ITT Watermark, which helps customers transport, treat, test and use water in public utility, residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial settings. Cone identified and established key strategic partnerships for Xylem with groups like Water For People, Mercy Corps and China Women’s Development Foundation. Cone also created an employee engagement campaign to drive awareness and impact internally for Xylem Watermark.

This kind of work allowed Cone to enjoy double-digit growth and achieve a record year for revenue and profits. Cone enjoyed the kind of year many bigger agencies would have killed for. A 23-3 account win/loss record included wins for such key clients as Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios, AMC Entertainment, Snuggle and the Sierra Club. —JG  

Co-Winner: Makovsky + Company

For a relatively small company, Makovsky + Company has been getting some serious media attention lately. Thanks to some pretty savvy PR efforts on its own behalf (as well as for clients), Makovsky + Company was identified by Dow Jones & Co. as the third-most-in-the-news public relations agency in the world. This is almost unimaginable when you think of the size of the competition this consultancy faces in the PR world.

Part of the credit must go to Makovsky + Company’s efforts on the content marketing front. Firm president Ken Makovsky’s blog “My Three Cents” is featured in Forbes.com and Bloomberg Businessweek’s Business Exchange. This not only helps to further establish Makovsky as a thought leader, it helps gain greater visibility for the agency. Also on the content marketing front, the agency’s newsletter series “Strategies” is recognized as one of the longest-lived and most respected thought leadership vehicles in the public relations industry. 

Notably, Makovsky’s work in 2011 included an engagement with Charles Schwab, helping to elevate the financial services company’s stature as a source of visionary thinking among registered independent investment advisors (RIAs). Makovsky earned more than 1 billion media impressions, a 200% increase in Twitter followers and 250 more RIA firms to Schwab’s platform.

Other brands have certainly taken notice of the agency’s stellar performance. New clients this year included major wins for three of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, Guardian Life, Cracker Barrel and Casual Male. The agency enjoyed revenue growth of 12% in 2011. —JG 

Honorable Mentions:

Coyne Public Relations: Perhaps Coyne Public Relations’crowning achievement in 2011 was the creation of a Burger King crown large enough to fit the Statue of Liberty. The crown was the centerpiece of the BK CROWNTM/MC Program.

Freshly independent in 2011, MWW added an impressive list of clients that included Walgreen Co, Zumba Fitness, Subaru of America and Deloitte Touche. Highlights included a multi-platform social media campaign for Nikon.

Peppercom: In a solid year for Peppercorn, key wins included TGI Friday’s, Lending Tree, Northeastern University and Aramark. Peppercorn also beefed up its digital capacities with the acquisition of H20 Associates.

PMKBNC: In 2011, PMKBNC went international, opening an office in London. Wins included JC Penney, Audi and The Weinstein Company. Highlights included the orchestration of the 2011 summer GLEE LIVE! concert tour.