This blog is cross-posted from Ishmael’s Corner.
We learned earlier this month that The Holmes Report named us one of five finalists for Tech Agency of the Year in the U.S.
While some pooh-pooh awards, I view the Holmes Report recognition as a big deal.
Our staff works damn hard. They deliver outstanding work. Why shouldn’t they bask in a touch of glory? Hey, everyone enjoys a pat on the thoracic spine.
George Orwell noted that “all animals are created equal. It’s just that some animals are more equal than others.” The same could be said for awards, which makes the recognition from The Holmes Report all the more meaningful.
Paul Holmes, Aarti Shah and Arun Sudhaman — The Holmes Report brain trust — have been observing and writing on the communications industry for years. Beyond looking at the numbers like top-line revenue and year-to-year growth, they also take a qualitative dive into each agency. Does the agency’s work stand out as extraordinary? How does the agency differentiate when all agencies can look the same on the surface? Etc.
You can’t game this system.
Here’s the finalist write-up on us:
The Hoffman Agency (independent)
The ultra-competitive Silicon Valley PR market tends to reward two types of firm: the titans that have ruled with their seemingly unbreakable networks and, of course, the hot boutiques of the moment. This is a market that can be unforgiving to the firms that fall in-between — which makes The Hoffman’s Agency comeback arc all the more impressive.
In 2016, U.S. revenues grew a respectable 12%, but it’s worth taking a wider lens to grasp how immensely founder Lou Hoffman has overhauled the firm since 2012. That year, Hoffman had declined to $2.3m in the United States with a significantly weakened brand. Hoffman undertook the painful process of restructuring the firm for sustainability. Since then, Hoffman has grown nearly 100% landing at $4.5m in 2016.
The caliber of its work has fueled much of this growth. Since 2013, judges for the Innovation SABRE awards have pointed out that Hoffman consistently punches above its weight. Among its standout work is strategically finessing content to optimize search rankings for clients like Sony Music, and in previous years, Endicia. In winning the Business France account, Hoffman exploited its single P/L to service the multifaceted account across U.S., EMEA and Asia-Pacific.
Looking ahead, Hoffman launched a new practice for Internet of Things with an eye toward becoming Silicon Valley’s ‘go-to’ agency in this area. Current IoT clients include Nokia, Atomiton, NXP and Withings. Hoffman’s content offering separates from the pack with a combination of storytelling expertise (led by its clever Periodic Table of Business Storytelling) , making sense of complexity, SEO function and visual design capabilities.
In addition to Hoffman, the leadership team includes Steve Burkhart as U.S. president, Kymra Knuth as EVP and Steve Jursa as EVP — the team that has made the 30-year-old firm the best that it’s probably ever been. – AaS
You can find the Holmes page on all the Tech Agency of the Year finalists, which include the Bateman Group, Highwire, Method Communications and WE Communications, here.
That final phrase in our snapshot, that the current management “has made the 30-year old firm the best that it’s probably ever been” is worth expanding on.
It’s hard to stay on top of your game for 30 years. I know this from personal experience because there was a period of time when we lost our way. That’s why it’s so satisfying to be among the elite in the communications industry again.
The story typically doesn’t turn out this way. I’m guessing that the average life of a PR agency is less than 10 years. At some point, the entity either fades into oblivion or gets swallowed up by one of the huge media holding companies — WPP, Interpublic, Omnicom or Publicis — followed by a dainty burp.
We’re an outlier.
After nearly 30 years of operation, we’re delivering the best work in our history, combining the sophistication of the mega shops with the high touch of the boutiques.
Quibbling with that final phrase in our snapshot, I think there’s no need for the “probably.”