He joined the Downing Street comms team in April 2008 under Gordon Brown’s premiership, with a brief to overhaul the then PM’s lacklustre web strategy. As well as revamping the Number 10 website, Flanagan built a government presence across social media including a Downing Street Twitter channel which has grown to over 1.8 million followers.
As a number of senior figures left the Downing Street comms team in 2008, Flanagan was quickly given the job of overseeing strategic comms alongside his digital responsibilities.
As a civil servant, Flanagan remained in place once David Cameron entered Downing Street and has spent the last months working closely with Cameron’s strategy chief Steve Hilton, before leaving this week. He insisted that his departure was not linked to the change of Government.
Before working in Government, Flanagan had a 20-year career in radio. He started out in local radio, going on to become head of regional radio and online for Chrysalis Group and finally MB of London’s LBC – Europe’s largest talk radio station.
At Portland, Flanagan will head a new practice aimed at helping the independent agency’s clients to deliver integrated comms campaigns. Portland MD Tim Allan said: ‘Every reputational issue these days has a digital dimension, so we have decided to create the best possible digital comms offering… Putting Mark’s expertise and intelligence at the disposal of our clients will be a huge benefit. He has a superb track record at delivering effective digital communications.’
Flanagan said: ‘Portland is in the process of moving from a niche independent to being one of the UK’s major high quality communication firms. I am thrilled to be given a mandate to put digital at the heart of the business. This practice will be about integrating online profile, social, search and mobile into every level of our client interaction.’
Portland was founded in 2001 and now numbers over 70 staff, with headquarters in London and offices in New York and Nairobi. Clients include Google, Apple, Coca-Cola, McDonald's and the Kofi Annan Foundation.