Top Provider Rankings—PR, Communications and Advertising Firms

We rank the top providers of cause marketing solutions.

Service providers offer important tools for the corporate responsibility officer. One key partner is the communication firm. Being a good corporate citizen is necessary but not sufficient. Absent an effective effort to communicate such ideals and actions, CR is reduced to the tree falling in the empty forest.

Customers, shareholders, and employees all need to know what the mission is and how it’s being realized. Not just for brand development—and especially not in pursuit of anything that flirts with greenwashing. Rather, public relations in this sphere is integral to advancing the cause itself.

Corporate responsibility officers, or CROs, are at a similar point of evolution as human resources leaders prior to 1980. HR was then known as personnel, or, in unionized companies, labor relations. The professional association was the American Society of Personnel Administrators, with barely 3,000 individual members. In 1989 the group changed its name to the Society of Human Resources Management, or SHRM, a change that rapidly professionalized the HR practice. Today, SHRM has 250,000 global members representing companies with an estimated aggregate budget of more than $200 billion. Yet, even in the HR market, there existed no reliable independent ratings of HR service providers, a fact bemoaned by HR leadership.

In 2002, CR Magazine’s sister publication, HRO Today magazine, began ranking several categories of HR service firms according to customer satisfaction in what are known as “Baker’s Dozens Lists.” Since 2007 the Baker’s Dozen Lists have been based on a highly successful survey methodology. Practitioners in the HR field have actually produced our rankings in post-RFP bid meetings and asked the bidder about why they scored well or poorly in our survey. Our customer satisfaction-driven approach has become the gold standard in vendor evaluation. So, why pursue it in the pages of Corporate Responsibility Magazine?

The Corporate Responsibility Officer Association is nascent, representing 200 companies and about 1,200 individuals (though the latter figure is about to grow—see the cover wrap.) But these executives now own rapidly growing budgets totaling billion of dollars. Communications firms are among the recipients of this new spend. Yet the CROA’s members tell us that sourcing the best services in this emerging field is highly uncertain, because no reliable ranking program exists.

In the following pages, you will find Top Provider Rankings—PR, communications and advertising firms. We trust they will make your sourcing work more objective and data-driven.

We solicited the input of current CROs as well as marketing/communications executives to rank the top PR and communications firms in the space. We surveyed more than 10 firms but only eight made the final list.

Ranking Methodology: Current customers were asked to participate in an online survey regarding their experience with their current provider (their identities are strictly confidential). The survey instrument measures three dimensions. The first is “Breadth of Service,” which is the subsets of services provided. The next dimension is “Deal Size”, a reflection of divisional or geographic reach or size of company, etc. We only offer deal size as a comparator for you to measure a potential provider against the scope of a program you may wish to put out to bid.

The final component of the index and the most important is “Quality of Service.” This is based on a series of questions that examined the performance, relationship, and trust between provider and customer. We used a 5-point Likert scale, with answers ranging from “Strongly Agree” to “Strongly Disagree.” Each answer was ascribed a point value; the points were totaled, averaged, and the mean was calculated into the overall quality score. Additionally, our editorial team collected market intelligence from a variety of sources (again, necessarily confidential) to provide a complete picture of service. We then weighted each dimension for the “Overall Score.”

We allow providers to refer customers, but they do not know the weightings of questions or the dimensional categories in the final index. We keep this information secret, so that known customers cannot be coached to focus on certain questions. We perform spot verification of respondents using two different methods. We also solicit respondents from our own lists, so that our sample is not only generated by the provider referrals.

This is analogous to the respected and standard methodology used in all of our Baker’s Dozen Customer Satisfaction Surveys. We hope that the CR Magazine’s Top Customer Satisfaction Survey in Communications helps you identify the most appropriate partner for your needs.

1. Singer Associates
2. Cause Consulting
3. Green Impact
4. MSL Group
5. For Momentum
6. Cone
7. Ogilvy PR
8. Edelman

Click here to learn more about the firms.

Click here to see the category leaders.

Posted March 6, 2012 in Communications