PRWEEK AWARDS 2003: People & Agencies - Specialist Consultancy of the Year

WINNER - RED DOOR COMMUNICATIONS

Healthcare specialist Red Door Communications consolidated its position as one of PRWeek's Ones to Watch this year. In only its third year of trading, the consultancy won 11 pieces of new business, increased profitability to 22 per cent and was awarded the Investors in People Standard.

Red Door's fee income grew by 83 per cent to £840,000 in 2002, and this year has shot up by a further 54 per cent to £1.4m, thanks to a combination of pitch wins and organic growth from existing clients. The company predicts growth of around 20 per cent for 2004.

As well as winning more work from Aventis Pasteur and Bayer, Red Door increased its work for Eli Lilly, and brought Baxter, Novartis, Roche Diagnostics and Wyeth into the fold in 2002-2003.

The consultancy's targets for 2002 were to increase its blue-chip pharmaceutical client business by 50 per cent; focus totally on UK business; fulfil its promise of senior client servicing, and ensure team growth was directly proportional to new business.

Training and development are key for the agency, which has a comprehensive training programme tailored for all staff, and last year set up an internal Account Directors Forum.

Measurable objectives are set at the beginning of a project and a variety of assessment tools are used, including attitudinal benchmarking, qualitative and quantitative market research, and media message and impact analyses.

Among the highlights of the year was the launch of the Women's Health Report on osteoporosis, and helping to increase sales of a home self-testing device for monitoring blood levels by 70 per cent.

Since introducing its client review scheme, Red Door has received 95 per cent good or excellent scores for its work, and clients are fulsome with their praise. The team is described consistently as enthusiastic, professional, innovative, and 'a breath of fresh air'.

COMMENDED - LANSONS COMMUNICATIONS

Against a less-than-cheery background of stockmarket falls and job losses, specialist financial services agency Lansons Communications maintained fees of more than £5.4m and profit margins of 19 per cent.

Retaining 24 of its 25 largest clients - the only loss down to a takeover - Lansons won 22 new retainer and project clients during the year and worked on major projects, including for Churchill Insurance's management during the £1.1bn sale to RBS.

Its company culture continued despite the downturn, with the 62 staff enjoying the annual karaoke challenge and most taking advantage of 'essential time out' sessions such as pilates and reiki.

There was some bad news, however: the company had to make its first-ever redundancies - four in total - and held an all-staff forum to explain why.

The agency's Creating Tomorrow's Leaders programme for account handlers focused on furthering best practice in issues management, finance, delivering in a recession, strategy, product knowledge, managing people and creativity.

FINALISTS

Kavanagh Communications

Lewis PR

Life Communications

Market Engineering

Shire Health International

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