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Awards case study: The recipe for an award-winning PR agency

Find out how William Murray Communications' award-winning approach means 95% of its business comes from referrals

About

William Murray is the UK’s number one food and drink PR and communications agency. It helps its clients reach chefs and caterers anywhere you can eat out... from restaurants, pubs, cafes, schools and hospitals to care homes.

Twenty-eight years ago William Murray started as a two-person consultancy. Fast-forward to today and its the number one specialist agency in its industry with 40% market share.

William Murray's ambition is to be the most influential specialist food and drink PR agency to work with and work for. What makes it special is its approach to solving clients’ problems. By getting the great thinkers from its business and from the unique industry network together, the company can create campaigns that its competitors can’t.

William Murray's joint-CEOs Anita Murray and Karen Browne are both listed in hospitality’s Top 100 Women in Business and are supported by a team of 23.

Contribution to clients’ businesses

The copmpany has an immersive approach to servicing its clients’ businesses; from sitting on product innovation teams and taking part in their training courses and conferences, to helping develop their marketing.

Proof that this approach works:

  • 75% of the company's clients tell it they particularly value its specialist experience.
  • 95% of its business comes from referrals.
  • The company's client retention rate grew 14% this year to an average of eight years.

An example of how it delivers for its clients:

Its Knorr gluten-free campaign for Unilever Food Solutions delivered 5.7% growth in food service industry market share in 12 months.

Creative thinking

Santa Maria’s ‘Tastes of Pepper’ campaign highlights the company's creative thinking at its best. William Murray worked in partnership with Santa Maria’s marketing team across Europe to drive sales of pepper.

Step one: Establishing a baseline

The company surveyed 400 chefs about black pepper. Although nine out of 10 considered pepper an essential ingredient, and 78% used it in their top-selling dishes, 63% said they lacked knowledge about different peppers and how to use them.

Step two: Making a splash

William Murray took over the cover of the leading trade magazine, The Caterer, targeting 21,000 readers, supported with a mix of print, online trade advertising and a social media influencer campaign.

William Murray communications campaign image

Step 3: Informing chefs

An infographic delivered its survey results (print and online).

A free online pepper guide showed chefs how to get the most out of different peppers.

Complementing the guide was a ‘The Tastes of Pepper’ poster for their kitchen.

All assets were downloadable on a dedicated ‘Tastes of Pepper’ microsite.

Step 4: Incentivising chefs

William Murray launched an online competition for a trip to Kerala (India) where Tellicherry pepper comes from. To compete, chefs requested a Tellicherry sample, created a recipe using it, then uploaded their recipe to Santa Maria’s website for judging.

The company provided Tellicherry sample tubes carrying a foodservice grinder and competition postcard to the leading chef association and other influencers throughout the UK.

Step 5: Inspiring chefs

William Murray appointed a campaign ambassador – chef Dan Doherty from London’s Duck & Waffle restaurant – to host pepper masterclasses.

Step 6: Rolling it out

  • Created a toolkit of assets and advice.
  • Briefings were held with the marketing teams across Europe.
  • The campaign was rolled out across eight countries.

Results of the campaign

European pepper sales grew 35% in 12 months, with spice sales up 21.2%.

Staff and community engagement

  • 84% of the team “know where we’re heading and that we’ve got a strategy to get there”.
  • 84% said it look after their wellbeing.

We attribute this positive culture to…

1. Our standout benefits and reward programme

William Murray's package includes: private health, sabbaticals, a £1k per person training budget, one-to-one mentoring, team-building weekends abroad, secondments, monthly and annual reviews, quarterly and annual awards, subsidised gym membership, childcare vouchers, and flexible hours. It's also launching a shareholding scheme for its senior team.

2. Network

William Murray attends 100+ industry events annually and have an unrivalled blackbook with specialist advisors in every sector.

3. Influence

The business sits on client product development teams, judging panels, and industry bodies, and speaks at major events.

4. Thought leadership

Murray's annual ‘Hot In The Kitchen’ trends report and ‘The Social Side of Food’ investigating chefs’ use of social media. It writes a monthly food trends column in Foodservice Europe.

Key achievements

In 2015/16:

  • William Murray was recognised by the Craft Guild of Chefs (leading chef association) for services to the eating out industry.
  • Made the PR Week Top 150 (again).
  • Became the 12th largest agency outside London (15th in 2015).

B2B Marketing Awards 2016

This case study was submitted as part of the judging process for the B2B Marketing Awards 2016. It won in the category of B2B PR agency of the year. 

See the winners

Schnabl Really B2B engagement product launch