Weber Shandwick wins PR Agency of the Year at 2023 AdFocus Awards
In the past year the company has retained all its clients and signed on several new ones, which ensured that there was growth and high profit margins
Many public relations agencies have struggled to recover to pre-pandemic levels. Weber Shandwick has evolved to meet the changing needs of post-Covid businesses by extending its services beyond traditional PR into a consulting practice that influences business and drives growth.
All three finalists in the 2023 AdFocus PR Agency of the Year category — Magna Carta, Razor and Weber Shandwick — were incredibly close, and the award could have gone to any one of them in a different year. However, it was Weber Shandwick that took top honours this year, by a slim margin, delivering a strong entry across the board with agency growth, excellent client relationships and a positive industry contribution.
One of the agency’s offerings, called Leaders Transformed, is designed to champion new business leaders, support leadership transitions and ensure staff engagement and business stability. It has also developed services that leverage its expertise in reputation management, organisational development, coaching and sponsoring, to deliver cutting-edge consulting at the highest levels of business decision-making.
The results speak for themselves: in the past year, the agency has retained all its clients and signed on several new ones, ensuring growth and high profit margins of between 25% and 30%, year on year.
Weber Shandwick South Africa is part of a global network of agencies. Each office operates autonomously with separate clients and billings. In South Africa, the team consists of a diverse group of strategic thinkers and creative storytellers with a strong competence in C-suite engagement, strategy and analysis, media and publicity, organisational transformation, and reputation and leadership. An understanding of the convergence of media, policy, technology and society brokers relevance to empower its clients to influence culture and society.
Once talent has been onboarded, the agency is intentional about growing them and compensating them competitively
The agency believes businesses today exist in a reputation economy with strategic communications an increasingly important risk area to safeguard. It also maintains that it has earned strategic communications a place at the business decision-making table. This, it says, has been a critical move in the changing business landscape.
The agency has won the Best Up-and-Coming PR Professional Prism award for four consecutive years.
People-centred, the agency is laser-focused on its employee experience. Each staff member has an individual development plan, aligned with their career growth. From middle managers to senior leadership, there’s a development programme that ensures holistic personal growth.
Its staff retention activities are led by a “Find-me Grow-me Know-me Keep-me” approach that reflects the talent journey within the business. It includes a continuous review of hiring practices, creating strong pipelines and new talent pools. Once talent has been onboarded, the agency is intentional about growing them and compensating them competitively.
Its client mix is diverse, covering corporate affairs, technology, financial services, public affairs, health care and the consumer. Its work for clients is focused on its impact on businesses and communities. In the past year, the agency helped Nestlé pilot a blueprint for sustainability engagement and communications in response to the government’s extended producer responsibility policy. The campaign won Gold at the Prism Awards and received a Certificate of Excellence at the Sabre Africa Awards. It won awards at Prism for work with Mastercard and a certificate of excellence at Sabre for work with IBM.
A level 1 BEE and majority black-owned agency, Weber Shandwick’s diversity, equity and inclusion values are evident across its shareholding, talent, work and culture. Its business ecosystem is diverse, with suppliers that boast great potential to contribute to society.
Magna Carta also had a strong year from a new business perspective, and is clearly making a return to being a PR powerhouse. The agency has doubled down on its reputation management offering, including crisis communication.
Razor PR, at only four years old and having already won this award twice, is a force to be reckoned with in this category. The agency continues to deliver a strong body of work and enjoys excellent relationships with its clients.
The big take-out:
The big take-out: All three finalists in the 2023 AdFocus PR Agency of the Year category — Magna Carta, Razor and Weber Shandwick — were incredibly close and the award could have gone to any one of them in a different year.
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