PRWEEK AWARDS 2003: People & Agencies - The Romeike Waymaker Award - New Consultancy of the Year

WINNER - FOUR COMMUNICATIONS

Set up by four partners who are equal shareholders, Four Communications has blazed an enviable trail since launching in November 2001.

The four founders - Nan Williams, Ray Eglington, Einir Williams and Tim Lewis - came from big agency backgrounds and wanted to offer big agency skills 'but with a small agency service ethos'.

Fee income last year was £896,470. In 2003, the agency has been on target to reach almost £1.8m in fee income.

The first account the launch team won two years ago, The Risk Advisory Group, came from a competitive pitch against four PRWeek Top 50 agencies.

New business has flowed healthily since then. This year the firm, which has expanded to employ 21 staff, has worked, or is working, with 62 clients.

Eighty-six per cent of income comes from retainer clients or long-term (six-month) projects. None of its clients has ever switched agency and no senior directors have left. Its initial service offering - corporate reputation, crisis and issues management, CSR and internal communications - was clearly aimed at heavyweight clients, and its impressive client list reflects this.

The agency is now working for companies including bmi, Kia Motors, Grant Thornton, Lloyds TSB, Cafe Rouge, WWF, Provident Financial, Shell LiveWIRE and Reebok Fitness.

Punching above its weight required a full-service agency structure. This also meant the firm ran the risk of expanding head count before adequate business had been won.

The firm ploughed ahead with investing in offices in London's West End,secure IT systems and a professional HR, resource planning and finance system that gave it the infrastructure that is usually the preserve of a much larger agency.

This year the agency has improved its offering with a consumer PR and public affairs practice, in-house media training, design and publications and evaluation.

No surprise then that the head count is expected to rise yet again by the end of the year.

COMMENDED - BRAZEN

Set up in July 2001 by Nina Wheeler and Emma Thornley, Manchester-based consumer PR agency Brazen scooped major household brand-name accounts and beat its original growth targets by 112 per cent.

In its first full year of trading, Brazen made a 19 per cent profit margin on more than £669,000. This year the firm's more than £1.2m turnover has generated margins of 24 per cent, with income growth of 83 per cent.

Its client list now includes major household brands, including Marks & Spencer, Iceland, UCI Cinemas and Dairy Crest.

The creative exuberance of the firm is helped by contemporary artist Adrian Luty, a part-time creative consultant with the sole brief of generating ideas.

Staff are placed on a six-month personal development plan to prepare them for promotion after the first year with the agency.

In January this year, the company launched a special events and promotion division called Brazen Live.

FINALISTS

Launch PR

MPC

Tangerine Public Relations and Coaching

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