535 Kings Road
Name of person answering questions: Dee Gibbs
Job title: Joint Managing Director
Describe your agency in five words
The consumer agency for business
How would you sum up 2010 for your agency?
We had an amazing year financially. We celebrated 12 years of Mi liberty – from a small back bedroom in 1998 to an international technology agency with a fantastic team of talented communication professionals and very loyal clients, we feel quite grown up!
What was your agency’s high point of 2010?
Having a really supportive senior management team who have been loyal and hard working. We successfully created a client services role to reflect the Mi liberty ethos and approach to client satisfaction which is the bedrock of all we stand for. The result? Additional revenues from existing clients and opportunities to cross-sell digital marketing services. Oh, and we upgraded our look and feel too!
What was the low point of 2010?
It’s a challenge to find the right mix of talent for a growing agency. Mi liberty prides itself on a very rounded approach to professional expertise and we employ a really effective and wide ranging skill set which serves to compliment the services we offer to our clients. If there was a low point on the staffing front, it’s the inability of recruitment firms to add any value.
Please give an overview of your staffing through 2010, including significant hires and internal promotions.
Succession planning is a focus and in 2010 we promoted a senior account director to lead client services, an account director to senior account director and promotions were awarded at all levels of account manager and executive. We’ve brought in junior support from the graduate community and we’ve bolstered our support in North America. We hired a senior industry executive to lead Mi liberty’s brand new consulting business - designed to help companies launch into Europe in a cost effective manner.
What were your three best campaigns of 2010?
It’s difficult to pick just three because we worked on some really exciting campaigns, some of which were extensions of existing or rolling programmes, and some which were entirely new and diverse. So, I’ve picked the three which I think showcased our agency capabilities in the best way:
Mobile World Congress 2010 – media management
Mi liberty had another bumper year at Mobile World Congress, the GSMA’s mobile industry’s flagship event. Not only did we support a large number of our valued clients at the show – but we were also retained by the GSMA to run the press office again for the 6th year running. For clients, we helped with everything from securing and staffing briefings through to helping with stand builds, mailers, experiential marketing and events. We also managed the registration process for the press before the event and at the show itself on behalf of the GSMA. Overall we registered nearly 2,400 global press and supported them every day at the show at the Media Centre.
Telmap – Challenge of the Mobile Navigation Market
Faced with the challenge of Google and Nokia entering the mobile navigation market, our client Telmap was confronted by a wall of cynicism and predictions of failure regarding its white label, operator-based navigation offering. We worked with Telmap’s marketing team to establish clear messaging and launched an aggressive thought leadership campaign securing more than 50 media and analyst briefings in the UK alone. More than 725 pieces of coverage were generated, of which 95% featured either one or two Telmap messages or a sizeable quote from its key spokespeople. By July 2010, the fruits of our labour started to show and Telmap was described as the “LBS giant” and “a leading authority in mobile location services”, with an offering that's clearly differentiated from the Google and Nokia offerings.
Airwide Solutions – Research with MobileSQUARED
We ran a number of research based projects for clients including several with one of our closest research partners, MobileSQUARED. Over the summer they helped us interview mobile operators on their plans for the next 5, 10 and 15 years on behalf of a very successful project with one of our long term clients, Airwide Solutions. The campaign secured over 30 pieces of news coverage in Airwide’s tier A media – in addition to a continued momentum of thought leadership based bylined articles and forward feature opportunities. 96% of the coverage featured sizeable quotes from key Airwide spokespeople and all pieces correctly positioned Airwide with the right company messaging. Research projects are fairly common in PR campaigns but it’s good to know that they still really work and provide excellent market insight.
What were your most exciting client wins of 2010?
Over ninety per cent of our business is based on recommendation and the contacts we have built in the industry. I’m touched that the media and the industry regularly reference the quality of our capabilities. Our reputation could not be built without them. Here’s three clients we won on referral which also happen to be three of the most exciting wins for the agency too:
WeDo Technologies – referred by a key member of their target press, WeDo began discussing their plans for an outsourced agency partner in mid 2010. WeDo Technologies is a global organisation offering revenue and business assurance solutions for blue chip companies.
PSonar – referred by an ex-client and mobile and music industry luminary, Psonar selected Mi liberty to work on its first foray into public life which was timed to coincide with MIDEM, a music industry event held in Cannes, South of France each January. Psonar offers a cloud music service with a new Pay Per Play proposition. Tracks can be listened to in full, uninterrupted and with no advertising or fixed monthly subscriptions.
MoreMagic – referred by an ex-client who was freshly appointed to lead MoreMagic’s marketing out of Boston, USA. MoreMagic chose Mi liberty in November 2010 and have used the capabilities across the agency including PR and marketing for the build of its new website and trade show presence. MoreMagic Solutions provides mobile commerce and financial services solutions to enable a global mobile financial ecosystem that brings mobile operators, financial institutions, NGOs, distribution partners together.
Of which achievement in 2010 are you most proud?
We moved up PR Week’s Top 150 Consultancy AND the Top 40 Technology Consulting listings in 2010. We were the highest new entrants in 2009. It’s a fabulous team effort. The Mi liberty group is made up of some of the best communication professionals I’ve had the privilege to work with in my 25 year career.
What trends did you notice throughout the year in the industry ie. Clients taking longer to sign off budgets?
For those who know me, they will tell you that I am continually frustrated and perplexed by the way that some, often the larger firms, give PR a bad rap. I can’t count how many times a client has come to us having been burnt by agencies who over-promise/under deliver. Not only that, the offending agency doesn’t seem to have any regard for the financial implication to the client or for the reputation it has damaged for agencies who do get it right.
This isn’t new, but I’ve noticed it getting worse rather than better.
How has digital changed the agency landscape in 2010?
We can no longer ignore the digital channel and agencies that continue to do so will be left out. Digital communications isn’t new, it’s just evolved quite a bit. Digital channels for PR are just that, another communication channel and should be integrated with other campaign elements to deliver and engage in the message. A couple of years ago agencies were announcing the opening of specialist digital branches to handle social media and other digital tools, but we’ve always believed that it’s best under one roof and making the most of everything else we do in the PR toolbox. Our view is that the agency of the future will be a marketing agency, fully integrated and offering all the available channels. Ultimately, it’s still all about campaigns that drive revenue for brands. Digital communications are more measurable as long as the industry can deal with the immediacy of it all. Oh, and building media relations isn’t dead as has been widely reported!
What are your plans for 2011?
To take more breaks. Seriously, I know that I can be effective when I’m away from the day to day. I’m lucky enough to have a solid, trustworthy group of talented people around me at Mi liberty and it would be wrong for me not to give them a chance to take Mi liberty forward whilst I kick off my heels from time to time! I’m sure they’re counting the days….;-)
Consolidating our industry position is key. We’re excited at our prospects and think that our new Mi liberty consulting offer will resonate well with companies looking to establish themselves in Europe in a cost effective manner across business development, marketing and PR.