The PROPEL 100 – The Most Influential PR Agencies In The World 2021
The Propel 100 is back! Join us in celebrating 100 of the most influential PR agencies in the world.
For those that are new, the Propel 100 list highlights influential PR people, in many different fashions. As a team that prides itself in revolutionizing PR, we made it our mission to research other PR people that are successfully standing out in the field, and leading the conversation today.
So far this year, we have released a list for in-house PR practitioners and another for PR practitioners in agencies. Now, it’s time to bring agencies themselves into the spotlight.
Humanizing brands is not a new narrative, and we’re seeing that agencies embracing trends like this, especially through social media, reap major benefits while others blend in the background.
They’re allowing personality to shine through the often cold shell of business, and take advantage of opportunities that social media brings, beyond entertainment. They’re connecting with stakeholders in a real, genuine way through these digital platforms.
With such an emphasis on social media presence in the realm of influence, we found that most influential PR agencies have their own social media accounts. This allowed us to continue using Twitter, one of the most popular (and important) social media platforms to PR people, as a key research source for Propel 100 metrics and methodology.
Read below to learn more about how we arrived at this diverse, inclusive list of distinguished PR agencies...
Twitter is a social media platform that all PR people should be using, at least to some extent. It is full of media conversation and a great place for journalists to seek connections, according to a Forbes article, How Social Media is Changing the Face of PR.
That being said, we used several telling quantitative metrics from PR agencies’ Twitter accounts to arrive at a well-rounded analysis of their influence in the industry. This meant going beyond face-value metrics like follower count, and considering many others that help determine engagement rate, relevance, and more.
To establish a baseline for the PR agencies considered for this list, we began by scanning Twitter for agencies Tweeting consistently about public relations, or those that include “PR” or “Communications” in their bios. Our research focused primarily on stand-out agencies in the U.S. and U.K.
We used the following criteria to further narrow down our long list of qualifiers to a rounded 100:
- Audience – Total audience size and audience size specific to the PR industry (we determined the PR-specific audience by including users that stated they work in the PR industry within their bio).
- Relevance - Number of times that they tweet on topics that pertain to the PR industry.
- Engagement - Average engagement rate per post (i.e., likes, comments, retweets, quote retweets etc.).
And finally, our research did not stop at quantity. We then manually vetted each agency for quality that cannot be determined by numbers alone. The agencies that made the final list are those that are making waves in the PR industry for the better, all in their own, unique ways…
For example, Ditto PR agency, prioritizes company culture and meaningful, high-quality coverage to positively influence the industry.
“Influence to me means Ditto is making the PR industry a better place by setting a new standard in quality of work and how employees are treated,'' said Trey Ditto, CEO of Ditto PR. “More people knowing about Ditto means more people knowing there’s a better way to work and enjoy what you do.”
And, a major component of our quality-related research was focused on diversity…
Diversity is in our DNA, and we hope that reflects well in our list.
From personal experience, we find that the more diverse your team is, whether it be in terms of skill set, background, ethnicity, age, you name it, the better. A team is always greater than the sum of all its individual parts, and the more diverse the team, the more opportunities there are to amplify success in personal AND organizational goals.
“As someone with a physical disability who wears leg braces to help me walk, I am personally passionate about diversity and inclusion, and appreciate its sacred importance. We made our best effort to find diverse voices to include on our list,” said Propel co-founder and CEO Zach Cutler.
Diversity and inclusion sound like a no-brainer for any company, right? Unfortunately, it is still a work in progress and something to be keenly aware of.
“The data shows that leadership (Founders, CEOs, EVPS, etc.) in PR agencies skew towards white men,” said Propel Diversity Board Member and Agency Founder Tanisha Colon-Bibb. “Those are numbers that have been in place since the founding of the [PR] industry in the early 1900s.”
This industry is in dire need of change… Where to begin?
There are so many angles to tackle diversity in the PR industry,” Colon-Bibb said. “All of which are important, but in my opinion, helping minority-owned agencies scale will start to diversify the leadership in the industry and ultimately provide job opportunities for more diverse candidates.”
Another member of our diversity board and founder of Kaye Publicity, Inc., Dana Kaye, further comments on the importance of having a diverse PR team today…
"As competition for media coverage continues to increase, it is necessary for PR agency owners to think outside the box and develop new innovative approaches to addressing media,” she said. “We have also seen an increase in coverage for our BIPOC, LGBT+, and Disabled clients, which indicates the media’s desire for less homogenous coverage. To address this shift, PR agency owners must be diligent about diversifying their teams so we can better represent our diverse clients and bring different perspectives to approaching media."
Insights from our list
What are the qualities of an influential PR agency? Our list holds many insightful revelations about what it takes to be an influential PR agency today, based on the set of metrics we observed.
We found that the average follower count among these PR agency Twitter accounts was 8,473. Emphasis on average… Many of the accounts were far on the low side, and others on the high side of this figure. For example, the agency with the top follower count, Edelman, has the most followers, weighing in at over 95,000.
The average PR agency follower-to-following ratio was approximately 7 to 1. What does this mean? Twitter users have these accounts on their radar. People are choosing to follow these agencies to keep up-to-date with their content, rather than just a ‘follow-for-follow’ or ‘follow-back’ intention.
Many of these influential agencies are clearly ahead of the curve when it comes to social media experience. The average number of years of Twitter experience was about 11, with a maximum of 13 years. We also found that the majority of those on the list had 12 years of Twitter experience. Finally, the newest Twitter accounts on our list have been active for less than one year. That being said, an organic Twitter following with user engagement does not happen overnight, so be patient! Building a strong Twitter presence tends to take some time.
Number of Tweets
Being an influential PR agency requires high quality AND quantity online. This aligns with our data, as we found that the average number of tweets across the agency accounts was nearly 9,000. The Twitter account for digital PR and publicity agency We Plug Good Music had the most tweets, with over 202,500 tweets in total, since 2009.
Over 55 of the agencies on this year’s list are based in the United States. Roughly 30 are dispersed throughout the United Kingdom, and a handful of them are located throughout additional parts of North America, Europe, Australia and more.
Considering that this list spans a wide variety of PR agencies with many specializations, their Twitter bios naturally varied a great amount. Focusing on industry influence, we made sure to prioritize those that discuss goals of bettering the PR industry in their own unique ways. And of course, those that described a focus on helping stakeholders achieve their communication needs.
The Propel 100
Should your agency be on this list? If you think you have what it takes, we would love to hear from you. We are always eager to connect with PR pros like you so that we can confidently arrive at a list of the best-of-the-best.
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