Looking back, 2016 has been a transformational year for Hanover. With a third consecutive year of 25 per cent top line growth, we have achieved our ambition to double in size by 2018 – a year early – going from £4.74m revenues and a team of 55 in 2012 to £11.2m and a team of 100 in 2016.
The Hanover Group now includes: flagship operations in London and Brussels, plus new offices in Dublin and Dubai; Multiple, a strategic consultancy for leaders of fastgrowth businesses; and The Playbook, a creative communications agency specialising in sport, active health and technology.
Our main challenge in 2016 could be summed up in one word: people. We had to work hard to attract the right talent to support our growth. A lot of effort went into building awareness of the fact that we do much more than public affairs in order to lure high-quality talent to other teams.
We made several strategic appointments, including BT’s former corporate affairs director Michael Prescott, who joined in a newly created role of group MD, corporate and political strategy; and industry veterans Alastair Gornall, Hanover’s first nonexecutive chairman, and chair of Hanover Health Anna Korving, previously Publicis’s EVP of global business development.
In a period of major expansion, another key challenge was to retain Hanover’s full-blooded culture. To reflect the fact that Hanover is now present in four geographies, we invested in a new internal comms platform that allows staff to collaborate and share knowledge across teams and boundaries.
We commissioned a comprehensive review of our vision and values, and launched several initiatives to help employees influence and shape the company’s culture. As a result, we have brought our staff churn rate down to 17 per cent and hired more than 40 people in 2016 alone – doubling our corporate operations team.
Driven by client demand for a pan-European offering, we opened an office in Ireland to provide advisory to companies in our traditionally strong sectors: financial services, TMT, healthcare, energy and retail.
Our advocacy and corporate practices in London and Brussels grew across all these sectors. To steer our clients through an uncertain political climate and a rapidly changing post-truth environment, our teams offer a full spectrum of communications services for corporate affairs directors and senior strategic counsel for the C-suite. This approach helped win a host of high-profile new clients, including Liberty Global and Tate & Lyle Sugars, and to rekindle the relationship with previous client Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), winning back an integrated PA and corporate communications brief.
Hanover Health delivered an impressive growth of 45% in 2016, boosted by an expansion of the comms team that services the likes of Lilly and Mundipharma, and the launch of the Market Access practice. Our Policy, Advocacy and Public Affairs team boasted a formidable new business win rate of 70%, which included beating McKinsey and Deloitte to a brief on Healthcare Technology Assessment reform.
As Brexit made its impact felt, our financial services practice helped clients navigate the new landscape, and, to bolster our offering further, we established a strategic partnership with German PA consultancy Johanssen + Kretschmer.
Since Tata Steel put its UK business up for sale in March 2016, Hanover has successfully managed intense media and political attention by providing strategic counsel, running a 24/7 press office and managing its corporate communications. Throughout what has been one of the biggest business stories of the year, Hanover positioned Tata Steel as a responsible owner.
Our advocacy and corporate teams successfully launched flood reinsurance scheme Flood Re, helping them raise awareness among politicians, insurers and customers. Within the first year of operation, the scheme took on more than 130,000 policies, signed up 90 per cent of home insurance companies and received overwhelming political support.
The digital team helped leading diamond company De Beers to substantially increase its Twitter followers, launch its first Instagram channel, and achieve a 27% return engagement rate via the influencer engagement programme – all without paid support.
Our Brussels team helped the Hepatitis B and C Public Policy Association raise awareness among EU and national policymakers of the possibility of eliminating Hepatitis C in Europe, leading the European Commission to invest €1m to improve early diagnosis rates of viral cases. The Hepatitis C elimination campaign won Campaign of the Year title at the 2016 EuroPAwards.
Since its birth in 1998, Hanover has grown from a team of two in a small office on Hanover Street to one of Europe’s leading independent strategic communications consultancies. This did not happen by accident, but through a combination of clear strategy, investment and constant innovation – which continues to guide us through 2017 and beyond.