The Prolific North Top 50 PR Agencies 2013

David Prior's picture
by David Prior

The Prolific North Top 50 PR Agencies 2013 compilation is the definitive list of the North's leading PR agencies. Unlike most PR agency rankings which rely primarily on the agencies submitting information about the number of their fee earners or fee income, the Prolific North ranking is anchored on financial information taken from Companies House.

The E Word logoThe initiative is published in association with theEword.

To go straight to the table, please scroll down the page.

(Update: 19/7/2013: Mere PR sold to BJL.)

Working together with Mustard Research, one of the UK's leading independent research companies, and the financial reporting company fame BVD, we looked at the accounts of over 200 PR agencies which are either based in or have offices in the North.

These were ultimately whittled down to the 50 in this ranking.

We did not give agencies the option of being included or not.

In addition to the data we  took from Companies House, we also asked agencies to submit information on their turnover and pre-tax profits/losses over the past two years, however, as none of the companies on the list – excluding agencies which are subsidiaries of international groupings – file full accounts (i.e. sales of more than £6.5m) we agreed not to publish the financial data which many prefer to keep private.

Inclusion – or not – in the ranking was also dictated by whether the agencies were primarily PR or otherwise. Hence some PR offerings, such as those from Amaze in Manchester or McCanns in Prestbury weren't included because although they do also offer independent PR services, they are largely included in a marketing mix by their parent operations. So too is MC2 which advised us it is these days a marketing services rather PR agency with the the majority of its income derived from non PR activities.

ThepowerofPRBecause the ranking is determined primarily by historical Companies House data, companies who have been through financial restructuring, such as Paver Smith, will find their ranking appears not to recognise their current turnover but assuming they continue to progress, over the next two to thee years as they submit figures to Companies House, their ranking is likely to improve markedly.

Whilst undertaking this research, we were often surprised by just how profitable some of the agencies are, making chunky six figure profits while often employing just a few staff and these agencies' high profitability typically propelled them up the rankings. The Public Affairs Company of Leeds and Triangle of Manchester are two such examples. It seems that many of the medium-sized agencies prefer to keep full time staff to a minimum and employ more freelancers where possible.

And keep their overheads as tight as possible.

The figures also reflect the realities of the economic climate in that some of the largest agencies in the North, Kenyon Fraser and Acceleris to name just two, who have previously generated the majority of their income by servicing the public sector, are perhaps not as highly placed as some might have expected.

It is also interesting to note that although Weber Shandwick (part of the NYSE-quoted Interpublic group) sits atop the ranking, the majority of the leading agencies are controlled by owner/managers based in the North.

We are planning to hold a special invitation-only event to celebrate this initiative in the autumn and we are delighted that Barclays Bank in Manchester has agreed to host the informal event. More details will be announced in due course and theEword, who have supported this initiative, will be managing the event on our, Mustard's and Barclays' behalf.

Mustard logoIn the meantime, Mustard and Prolific North would like to thank the 200 or so agencies who we have been liaising with over the past four months for their time and patience supplying us with information and data and responding to our questions where required.

The Prolific North Top 50 PR Agencies initiative will become an annual initiative and in future years, as our historical database grows, we will be able to track ever more detailed information about this dynamic sector of the North's marketing and media community.


The Prolific North Top 50 PR Agencies 2013


Rank Company name Offices in the North Full time staff  Selection of clients
1 Weber Shandwick Manchester 30 Aldi, Warburtons, Holiday Inn/Crowne Plaza, MBS, PZ Cussons, Pinsent Mason
2 Citypress Manchester 47 British Gas, Brother, Gazprom Energy, Learndirect, Lloyds, Princes, Shearings 
3 Tangerine Manchester 52 AGA CookShop, Atkins, AkzoNobel, British Gypsum, Dulux Trade, E.on, Johnsons Cleaners, Peugeot UK
4 Brazen Manchester 24 Magnet, Ronseal, Dr Oetker, Makro, Southern Comfort, Imperial Leather
5 Scott Partnership Holmes Chapel 15 908 Devices, Sciformix, Microsaic Systems
6 Good Relations Regional Macclesfield, Leeds, Liverpool 66 Camelot (National Lottery), Thwaites, Duchy of Lancaster, Co-operative Energy, Suttons
7 Barrett Dixon Bell (BDB) Altrincham 27 ADM, DSM, Innospec, Milliken, Pentair, Tyco
8 Spinoza Kennedy Vesey Communications (SKV) Manchester 16 Selfridges, Swinton Insurance, BDP, Government PS Framework, Apadmi
9 de Winter PR & Marketing  Chester 13 MBNA, Unilever, Adoption Matters and Grosvenor Shopping Centre
10 Peppermint Soda Hale 22 Home Bargains, Sweet’N Low, Gateley, Muse Developments, Encore Pet Food
11 Pelican Public Relations Oldham 15  
12 Kenyon Fraser Liverpool, Leeds 32 NHS, Merseytravel, The City of Liverpool College, Bruntwood, UHY Hacker Young
13 Beattie Communications Group Leeds, Manchester 18 Specsavers, easyJet, Commercial Estates Group, Appliances Online, Land Securities
14 Triangle Public Relations Manchester 6 CDL, CLS Care Services, Irwell Valley HA, Litchfield Group
15 Martin Tait Redheads PR  Newcastle upon Tyne 25 Red Driving School, Neilson, Olympic Airways
16 The Public Affairs Co Leeds  4 Express Gifts, FirstGroup, National Federation of ALMOs, Smoothwall
17 Roland Dransfield Manchester 8 Asda, Co-op, Hill Dickinson, Liverpool Community Health, GVA, Taylor Wimpey
18 Active Profile Liverpool, Manchester 12 Chrysalis Fund, Regeneration Liverpool, IXIS
19 Context Macclesfield   Tunstall, Roku,, After Adoption
20 Mason Williams Manchester   Peel, Henkel, Hasbro, Delphina Hotels
21 MTJ Associates Leyland   AJ Barr, Encona, Jammie Dodgers, Holme Farm Dairies
22 MCG  Leeds   Damart, Vimto, Hempsons, Seven Arts, Weight Watchers
23 RMS Altrincham 16 Hiscox, PHS Group plc, WestBridge Capital, Swizzels Matlow
24 JAM Manchester 6 Argos for Business, Transform Cosmetic, Carl Kammerling, Carrot Insurance
25 Paver Smith & Co Liverpool, Manchester 21 The National Lottery, M&S Simply Food, Morgan Sindall plc, Sci-Tech Daresbury
26 Label PR Manchester  5  8 clients including Simply Be (JD Williams)
27 Quest Harrogate 5 Deliciouslyorkshire, Bayford Group, AfPP
28 Finn Communications Leeds 12 Quorn, Glenfiddich, Nestle, ghd
29 Freedman Brown Communications Wigan 11 Tesco, Linder Myers, Blackburn College
30 Umpf Leeds 7 Belling, bizzybee, GLORIOUS! Foods, Lec, Methven, Stoves, Park Inn by Radisson
31 Smoking Gun Manchester 6 Red Bull, Kumho Tyres and Silentnight
32 Eldon Associates Newcastle upon Tyne    
33 Rumpus Altrincham 8 Stephensons, The House Crowd, Environment Agency, Kingsland, Mr. Freeze
34 Freshfield Public Relations Preston 15 Wigan & Leigh College, Marcus Worthington Group, ICare Group
35 Mere Altrincham   Kitbag, Metrolink, Jones Homes
36 Profile Communication Winsford 12 Halton Housing Trust, Mid Cheshire College, AKW Group
37 The Write Angle Chorley 11 Marsden Rawsthorn, Choice Hotels, Eric Wright Group
38 Lexicon Ilkley   Dorel, thebigword, Vickers, MoD
39 Hatch Communications Leeds 8 Wensleydale Creamery, Rugby League World Cup, Thomas Cook, Crabbie's
40 Admiral Newcastle upon Tyne, Manchester 11 Newcastle University, NHS, Red Driving School
41 Judge & Howard Manchester   EMS, Ainscough Crane Hire, The Translation People
42 The Bird Consultancy Manchester 7 Betfred, World Snooker, The Point
43 Acceleris Harrogate 14 Kier, Lombard, Nexus, Motorcycle News
44 Down at the Social Manchester 4 SEA LIFE Manchester, LEGOLAND Discovery Centres, Black Dog Ballroom Group
45 IPB Communications Sale 11 Tesco, Renerco, Derwentside Homes
46 Cicada Communications Harrogate   Clear Channel, Crest Nicholson, Windcrop
47 HatTrick Manchester   Dulux Decorator Centres, Rochdale Council,
48 Beyond Sheffield   Aquarium Claims, Oxley & Coward, Deafness Research
49 Cameron Wells Communications Sale   PMI Health Group, Tom Tom, PH Creative
50 iseepr Otley   Swivel, Search Laboratory, EMVCo, FIME

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