With clients like BarelyPolitical.com, the masterminds behind the Internet sensation Obama Girl, LaunchSquad has definitely held true to its mission of working on emerging/growth companies. Those clients are typically early- to mid-stage technology, software, and social media companies, all of which benefit from the firm's self-described approach of “handcrafted PR,” which helps companies create stories, strategies, and communications programs that get results.
Those results have helped in the financial success of the firm as well. During the eligibility period, LaunchSquad grew its revenue to $4.28 million; added 10 employees; brought in 17 new clients; and expanded its New York office to five employees and five clients. It was that entrepreneurial attitude that impressed the judges and earned the agency this honor.
In keeping with its tech-heavy client roster, the agency is also greatly invested in innovation and technology – often using its clients' products themselves – so that when promoting those clients, the team can speak from actual experience. It uses SuccessFactors to manage employee performance; TimeBridge to schedule meetings; Evernote as a reminder service; TurnHere to produce client videos; and Awareness to power its intranet.
LaunchSquad has also taken steps to be a digital, paperless firm by switching to Google for all work applications, including e-mail, documents, spreadsheets, and collaboration. In addition to its client work, judges remarked on the supportive and “nurturing” environment the agency provides for employees. For example, in addition to its fully paid health, dental, and vision insurance, the firm provides biweekly sessions on a number of topics, ranging from “Blogging/Tweeting for Clients” to “What You Need to Know about SEO.”
Each Monday, the firm holds a lunch for all employees that serves as the main communication and motivation gathering for the LaunchSquad team. During that meeting, employees discuss ongoing company and client news, share best practices and ideas, and talk about the big events of the week. That meeting also includes an “acknowledgement” section, where employees can highlight each other's outstanding work.
Because of the firm's size, there aren't many formal staff programs, but LaunchSquad promotes its team-based, no bureaucracy environment, one that is bolstered by a total absence of private offices in the firm.
“This agency is an up-and-comer,” re-marked one judge. “We'll see them in a different category next year.”
The Red Consultancy USA
Touting big-name clients like Microsoft, Chevron, and McAfee, The Red Consultancy impressed judges by not just winning that business, but retaining it over the years. The agency's “impressive track record of winning accounts against some of the industry heavyweights” was cited by judges as a reason for its success, which has been financial as well. The firm experienced year-to-year growth of 30%, with five major client wins totaling more than $500,000 in revenues. An aspect of Red that garnered praise from judges is its approach to HR and staff development. Senior managers attend the “Foundations of Leadership” class at the Center for Creative Leadership – used by GE and GM to train leaders. The firm's programs are tailored to meet employees' needs, using regular “brown bag” best-practice sessions, talks by top journalists, and PRSA-run training modules. Red's US employees spend a week at Red London in the UK within their first year to become immersed in the agency's culture. “Solid work by inspired staff and leadership” earned Red this honor.
• Kwittken & Company
• Linhart Public Relations
• Red Consultancy