Boutique agency punches above its weight to snag four industry awards

Independent public relations and marketing communications agency, The PR Department, scooped four trophies at the IABC National Ovation Awards in Toronto this week


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Toronto, May 29, 2018: Independent public relations and marketing communications agency, The PR Department, scooped four trophies at the IABC National Ovation Awards in Toronto this week. The agile Ontario and Quebec-based team was acknowledged by communications industry peers for its media relations prowess on behalf of prestige food brand Maille, and for event design and execution ability on behalf of hot sauce goliath Tabasco. However, before the night was over the team was also named ‘Boutique Agency of the Year’, and collected the ‘Peoples’ Choice’ award for the second year running.

“Boutique agency and “People’s Choice” are gratifying and reassuring wins because they validate our way of doing business,” beams Brigitte Foisy, president and founder. “A key differentiator of ours is that we form the kinds of bonds with clients that enable exceptionally frank, creative, and spry collaboration. This is why so much of our client business is repeat business – such straightforward communication means we can get to the solutions that work more quickly, and maintain consistently good results year-on-year instead of just over the short term. The Peoples’ Choice award is an endorsement of our approach, and we are very grateful to receive such a vote of confidence”. The team will have the opportunity to further reinforce its leadership position amongst similar-sized agencies next month after also being nominated for the IABC’s international boutique agency of the year award, announced June 6th.

Co-founder Debora Marques says of the two client-specific award wins, “It is important to us that these projects were acknowledged. A massive amount of creativity and hard work were involved in both, but Maille’s award recognises two critical capabilities – exceeding client expectations even when operating under tough financial conditions, and adapting rapidly enough that our client can beat their annual sales targets even when external factors derail initial plans. We are equally proud of the Tabasco award because it demonstrates the ROI, impact and efficacy that strategically designed experiential marketing campaigns can have when activations are created by brand specialists instead of event managers. When your client’s project draws so many attendees to a larger public event that the organisers beg you to repeat the activation at their other events, you know you’re providing something undeniably valuable.”

Maille’s 2017 media relations and TV tour campaign generated more than 57 million media impressions throughout Canada and a simultaneous spike in the product’s sales figures from the start of the campaign through to two months past its end. Meanwhile a series of ‘foodie’ event activations executed by the agency not only connected Tabasco with more than 200,000 target customers, but generated tens of thousands of dollars in product sales at the activations themselves and delivered a coupon return rate eight times the international industry average.

This award for the teams’ activation work with Tabasco is not the first time the agency’s event expertise has been recognised this year though. The PR Department also contributed to Air France’s recent win of the 2018 Sponsorship Marketing ‘events’.  However, both founders are keen to avoid being pigeonholed by past successes. “We’re lifestyle and consumer goods experts. Through the diversified expertise of our team members we deploy media relations, event management and social media strategies as efficiently as digital and traditional ad buying, brand management or web design,” says Marques. “It’s about what is best for the client and building a team around all their marcom needs rather than attempting to convert what clients really want into what an agency might prefer to do”.

The PR Department will continue to expand during 2018-9 on the impetus of its recent successes, and in diverse ways. Through a partnership with newly-launched agency The Brand Shop, a division is being built that will refine cutting-edge developments in augmented and virtual reality to the benefit of current and prospective clients within retail and associated sectors. The agency will also further reinforce its position in the food and beverage sector, particularly with organisations that provide common ground and interlinked creative opportunities for existing clients. At the same time, this new partnership is enabling both agencies to combine forces and develop a full-service agency offering that encompasses initially corporate and tech-style campaign management, but ultimately healthcare too.

“Sometimes we go where the complementary opportunities and innovations are, and then bring those advents back to our client base in ways that can be mutually beneficial,” explains Foisy.  “Other times a client trusts us implicitly but has a new need for something that we expand or diversify to be able to cater to. Either way, those organisations we work with now or will work with soon get to access that same volatile mix of experience, and personality types that can not only produce tangential ideas but also execute on them”.

The agency team will be in Montreal for the International IABC Awards next month.


For further information or to arrange and interview, please contact The PR Department at 416 535 3939 or email [email protected].