Business news

Holywood-based Smarts named UK’s #1 PR business

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10th May 2023

Industry bible, PR Week, names Smarts:

  • #1 Agency in the UK headquartered outside of London*.
  • #8 Consumer PR agency in the UK – jumping from 22nd just five years ago.
  • Northern Ireland’s largest PR agency – by a significant margin, as the only NI firm to be featured in the UK’s list of Top 150 PR firms.

Holywood-based PR and creative agency, Smarts has been named the UK’s #1 PR business outside of London by industry bible, PR Week. It was also named #8 Consumer Agency in the UK overall, the only non-London agency in the Top 20. It’s a remarkable story for the locally based, global firm – with growth of 11%, and more than 42 new hires, over the past twelve months alone.

The agency now employs more than 130 staff – across offices in Holywood, London, and New York – with a roster of blue-chip brands in more than 20 countries, including Bank of Ireland,, BT, Diageo, Siemens, Tui, Visa and Zalando.

Significant investment in content production, digital and influencer capabilities has positioned the agency as a global leader in culture-driven, consumer focused communications – launching the Causeway Distillery for Bushmills; working with Bridesmaids star Melissa McCarthy on’s record-breaking 2023 Superbowl ad; and attracting more than a million followers to European fashion giant Zalando’s social media accounts in a year.

Closer to home, the agency recently relaunched its community programme, Be The Smarts Change – investing £0.5m of staff time and expertise into local areas – including support for homelessness charities The Simon Community in Northern Ireland and Crisis in Great Britain (chosen by staff to reflect their passion points); as well as providing content and editorial support for TEDx Stormont to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

In addition, the agency is one of the UK’s only carbon negative communications consultancies.

Its team was also recognised at award ceremonies across the industry throughout the past twelve months – with over 20 top UK Awards including, CIPR’s Large Agency of the Year award, PR Moment’s Integrated Agency of the Year award, and PRCA’s Large Consultancy of the Year award.

Commenting on the rankings, Pippa Arlow, Global Chief Executive, Smarts, said:

“It’s fantastic to see Smarts rank as one of the UK’s leading PR agencies again this year – cementing our place amongst the world’s biggest communications firms.

“I’m especially proud that this UK-wide position is matched by recognition that our home is in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is an amazing hotbed of creative talent and we’re delighted to be able to continue growing the business from here.

“We’re also passionate about giving opportunities for people from all backgrounds opportunities to thrive here. It’s made our thinking and our output more creative and diverse than ever before, helping us drive genuine cultural endurance for some of the world’s best-known brands.”