Westbourne was set up in 2010 by James Bethell, the former comms director at Policy Exchange and managing partner at Portland. He was increasingly convinced that the right approach to comms was about building consensus, not just shouting the loudest.
"Companies can write press releases and invite MPs to various events, but finding a responsible approach to building an alliance around key issues and building dialogue is a very delicate process, and requires experience. This is our competitive advantage," says Bethell.
Westbourne’s 84 per cent increase in fee income last year came from a mix of new clients and additional work with existing clients. The agency’s biggest win of 2013 was Uber, the US company attempting to disrupt established taxi operators in Europe.
Bethell started conversations with most of his 17 clients at least three years ago. "People want to know and trust you," he says.
The Sunday Times named Westbourne in a story that claimed Tory election strategist Lynton Crosby had criticised the Home Office’s tactic of sending out vans with negative messages about illegal immigrants.
Westbourne made a series of interesting hires. These included Metro’s political editor, John Higginson, as head of comms; Ben Abbotts,the former head of public affairs at Lansons, as partner; and account directors Ben Garratt from Labour Friends of Israel and FleishmanHillard’s Rebecca Lury.
Key work included a campaign for Birmingham Airport to challenge the dominance of Heathrow in aviation policy.