The Top 150 PR Consultancies 2004: Top 150 Profiles

Fortunes varied last year, with smaller agencies seeing fee income growth

BELL POTTINGER/GOOD RELATIONS/HARVARD 1 - £32,639,000 (A)

Following a fee income drop of seven per cent to just under £33m last year and a dismal 2002, chairman of Bell Pottinger/Good Relations/Harvard parent firm Chime's PR division Kevin Murray says: 'It's been a gruesome couple of years, but for the first time we're a lot more optimistic'.

In 2003 the firm lost only one significant client, Philips, which decided to take its PR in house, while the number of retained clients rose by ten per cent.

Following Chime's reorganisation at the end of 2002, all of its PR brands sit within the one division, explaining the inclusion of Harvard this year, facilitating greater efficiencies and more integrated PR services. The firm has also streamlined management in favour of junior staff.

Last May, CEO of the PR division and chairman of QBO Bell Pottinger Trevor Morris quit, swiftly followed by the disposal of City PR arm Smithfield Financial, which went through an MBO. At the same time, former Shine MD Michael Frohlich set up Resonate, a consumer PR spin-off to build brand communities. Then the firm rolled together its Bell Pottinger Financial and Bell Pottinger Consultants arms to create Bell Pottinger Corporate & Financial, headed by Tim Ryan.

Its new client list boasted Sony Playstation, Rolls-Royce and Pentax. More business came from Carphone Warehouse and its landline service talktalk and Real Madrid around its signing of David Beckham.

Looking ahead, Murray says: 'There's still steady demand for consumer and B2B work, while public affairs is growing fast and corporate and financial is poised as more M&A work gets under way.' There are also plans to set up an internal communications division later this year.

BISS LANCASTER - £17,426,030 (CH, Year End 31/12/02)

Biss Lancaster Euro RSCG chairman Graham Lancaster describes the agency as having 'a real buzz' at the moment. Client wins in a variety of sectors, including Stanley Leisure, the Army, University for Industry, Little Chef, Staples, Baxters foods and Aquafresh, have come as parent firm Euro RSCG embraces the 'Power Of One' concept.

A closer relationship between the agencies in the group is helping the teams to focus on business results for clients, rather than just PR. 'It's a big part of our strategy, and has enabled us to commission a lot of consumer research so we can use that as a tool in day-to-day PR as well as integrated marketing,' he says.

The agency has reorganised its business into three practice groups over the past 18 months: consumer brands, corporate and B2B, and health and lifestyle, as well as the Leedex Euro RSCG regional network. However, there were some client losses during the year, including KPMG Consulting, Wembley National Stadium, MFI and Allied Bakeries. Lancaster doesn't see any sign of client budgets shooting up, but says they have at least stopped going backwards.

The most significant recent appointment was Jonathan Sanchez, who joins Biss Lancaster from Freud Communications to become MD of consumer brands, replacing consumer directors Sarah Muirhead and Michelle Waldron. Lancaster isn't expecting a huge jump in recruitment this year. There has been some churn among the 100-odd employees in London, although Lancaster is more concerned that those who leave tend to get out of PR altogether: 'We've got to work out how to stop talent leaving the industry.'

One of the agency's initiatives has been to put the firm through an Neuro-Linguistic Programming training system to analyse the needs of individuals.

'It's really brought out team spirit,' says Lancaster.

BRANDS2LIFE 36 - £2,034,126 (B)

For a relatively small agency working in the slumped tech sector it has been a remarkable year. With a 53 per cent rise in income in 2003, B2B, corporate and consumer agency Brands2Life has performed well in its specialist areas. Breaking the £2m fee income mark for the first time, the agency has demonstrated that if the tech PR sector is in recovery, it will be positioned to harness opportunities as they arise.

Brands2Life co-founder Sarah Scales says the year's growth was built around expanding existing business and strong new business flow. Notable account wins included the outsourcing of AskJeeves's press office to the agency in July, alongside a corporate and consumer campaign, and a UK and Europe account for web conferencing firm WebEx Communications in October. Others included Business Objects, Corizon, RS Components, StaffWare and Webraska. As a result, the firm almost doubled its headcount from 17 to 29 last year, including five fresh graduate recruits.

Partly through client demand and the need to diversify, last year saw the agency expand its capabilities 'modestly...We now provide market analyst relations, speaker bureau services and we've also added public affairs and some financial relations in the past year,' says co-founder Giles Fraser. But these capabilities will be added to core strengths. 'People seem to like the mix of good creative consumer and strong corporate PR on an international footing and I think more of that will be the recipe for our growth,' he adds.

The first quarter of 2004 has given Brands2Life cause to be optimistic. 'So far the market looks to be in good shape and it's my continued hope that clients might be taking more risks in marketing this year.' Scales adds that there are early indications PR budgets in the tech sector will see a rise on last year's budgets.

CITIGATE 2 - £19,715,053 (A)

Jonathan Clare, chief executive of Citigate Dewe Rogerson (CDR), sees 2003 as a year of two halves, where increased spending in the second half of the year failed to recoup the market caution of the first half.

In the UK, the Citigate brand that embraces CDR, Citigate Communications and regional network Citigate Smarts, dropped fee income 15 per cent to just under £20m and trimmed staff numbers by 282 to 253.

Much of this shortfall represents the slump in international M&A activity. But Clare says that despite this, the agency felt it made a lot of progress in financial and corporate PR and is confident it increased its market share. This included work on some headline-grabbing deals, namely the Granada Carlton merger, Morrison's bid for Safeway and Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's takeover of Chelsea Football Club. Last year, new clients included T-mobile, Kwik-Fit, Securicor and IT giant Logica CMG, while Citigate Smarts picked up new business from Invest Northern Ireland.

The autonomous Citigate Technology also merged with CDR's corporate group last autumn, creating a 40-member unit with 80 retained clients and fee income of more than £4m. And in October, the firm welcomed David Dible and his three bio-tech colleagues from De Facto Communications.

Other key personnel changes included the appointment of one-time Granada board member Roger Mavity as CDR non-executive chairman and the arrival of former Countrywide Porter Novelli consumer practice head Steve Marinker as director.

In light of an improved economic climate, Clare is 'cautiously optimistic' about 2004. 'Confidence among both our clients and ourselves has been maintained in the opening months of the year,' he says. 'However, there is little visibility and that confidence could easily be dented by political and economic uncertainty.'

COHN & WOLFE - Figures not available (see p19)

There is no way of independently verifying Cohn & Wolfe's performance in 2003, but MD Jonathan Shore describes it as 'a high-performance year' and says he was 'pleasantly surprised' that the healthcare, corporate, digital, and consumer divisions did equally well. New business wins included AirMiles, Charles Worthington, Domino's Pizza, Hovis, Samsung Olympics, Travelodge and Voodoo Dolls.

Cohn & Wolfe also retained BSkyB as a client and was the only agency retained on the Royal Mail roster. The digital team won O2, Misys and the DVD Consortium, and expanded its work for Logitech, Misys and Unisys into multiple European markets. Also, the healthcare team picked up the GSK Neurology portfolio and AstraZeneca's global work on Casodex, Zoladex and Exanta.

There were a number of management and structural changes at the agency during the year. The corporate practice broadened its work into public affairs, with Stephen Doherty running the corporate team.

Its wins included Diageo plc's corporate communications and Diageo GB's responsible drinking campaign.

Claire Mann joined the marcoms team from Cake to work on youth and fashion brands and major clients such as Danone, while Jeremy Clark joined the senior healthcare team from Weber Shandwick.

During 2003 Cohn & Wolfe also launched Elixir, a consumer health consultancy headed by Caroline Page. New clients included NiQuitin CQ. Shore believes this will be a major area of growth for 2004: 'There is enormous potential from the crossover between our understanding of healthcare markets and the regulatory framework, and our strong consumer background.'

EDELMAN 3 - £10,935,349 (A)

The year 2003 was a turbulent one for independent Edelman. In July, its president of international operations Alison Canning was ousted from her role after two years. Canning was not directly involved in managing the UK operation, but her remit was to boost non-US revenue, and her departure was down to recognition by the American owners that increasing US business was their best hope of doing so.

Her departure was one of a raft of senior changes during the year. In June, European director of public affairs Bernard Hughes left to join Asda. In July, consumer practice director Jill Rennie left to go travelling and in August, director of corporate and public affairs Jo Gibbons left to handle publicity for Cherie Blair. The year ended with the resignation of UK chief executive officer James Thellusson, who left to set up his own consultancy after just one year in the role. To top it all, Edelman chalked up a 25 per cent drop in fee income.

Edelman UK joint CEO Nigel Breakwell says: 'A significant drop in the proportion of revenue is attributable to the consumer business.'

The agency is now driven by corporate, healthcare, technology and public affairs, says Breakwell. New client wins included General Dental Council, BDO Stoy Hayward and the British Virgin Islands International Finance Centre.

The management focus for 2004 is to rebuild the consumer division with a new direction. 'The consumer division is now focusing on food issues, consumer health, and travel and tourism,' says Breakwell.

The agency's European president and CEO David Brain, who joined at the turn of the year from Weber Shandwick, says the aim is for Edelman to use its European network to win consumer business in London and roll it out across the European network.

Joint CEO Stuart Smith says increasing existing business has been the most fruitful strategy for the firm, with 50 per cent of new business over the last three or four years from existing clients. On a positive note, Edelman reports that the first quarter of 2004 is significantly up on the same quarter last year.

FIREFLY COMMUNICATIONS 18 - £3,838,266 (A)

The global consolidation of outsourced PR by Hewlett-Packard last year saw Firefly Communications lose a £1.1m account at the end of February - about a fifth of its total fee income at that point. The agency has been struggling to recover from the loss ever since, says Firefly director Mark Mellor: 'To take 20 per cent of our fee income away overnight was a pretty serious blow.' Firefly had continued to weather the brunt of the downturn in each of its specialist sectors: technology, telecoms, media, entertainment, professional and financial services. In May, the agency lost analyst relations specialist Asid Mushtaq to August.One and director Cathy Pittham to Text 100. By June, the agency was forced to shed staff, making two senior account managers and a campaign manager redundant. Mellor says such prudent measures meant that only one month thereafter was loss-making.

The firm made some headway in the last quarter of the year, with new business wins, Mellor says, totalling £1.5m. This added a 'half million account' with Motorola, plus Fujitsu Siemens Computers, consumer and B2B work with Adobe Systems, and a B2B and consumer account with Broadband Wales, the agency's first major public sector win.

On reflection, Mellor says: 'We're quite ambitious, but for the last quarter of last year the market bottomed out. I believe 2003 was the year we got out of Martin Sorrell's "bathtub" (the image Sorrell uses to describe the market recovery).' The agency has recently begun re-hiring at account director level in London, and Mellor explains that the firm's office in Scotland is also performing better than last year.

The most ambitious plans to be hatched this year for Firefly are likely to involve European expansion, says Mellor.

'There are increasingly opportunities for pan-European business led from either London or Germany,' he says. The agency currently has offices in Paris and Munich.

FOUR COMMUNICATIONS 41 - £1,834,723 (B)

Launched by industry veterans Nan Williams, Ray Eglington, Tim Lewis and Einir Williams in November 2001, Four Communications more than doubled its fee income last year.

'At set-up, we laid the groundwork with people we've worked with in the past, we then grew those accounts and once we were established, went for new business,' explains managing partner Nan Williams.

The company kicked off this year by winning a competitive pitch to handle consumer awareness, education, crisis and issues work for the chip and PIN programme, a joint initiative by banks and retailers to cut plastic-card fraud.

Later in March, this was matched by wins from Reebok Fitness and its CyberRider, online restaurant booking service toptable.co.uk and the once-derelict London cinema, The Coronet, which is currently being redeveloped.

In its second full year of trading, the firm expanded its core service offering, from corporate reputation, consumer marketing, crisis and issues management, CSR and internal communications, to embrace public affairs.

Last February, Jeremy Fraser, who was the campaign manager for Frank Dobson's failed 2000 London mayoral bid and Jim Dickson, one-time leader of Lambeth Council, joined the firm from Weber Shandwick.

Sixteen months later, the agency's PA arm now boasts seven staff and a raft of clients including the Association for Payment Clearing Services, Wimpey, Barratt and Berkeley Homes.

Last September, Four beefed up its consumer credentials, luring Steve Gebbett from Hill & Knowlton to work with clients that included Future Forests, Kia Cars and Cafe Rouge.

Since then, the firm has established a design capability and, in 2004, plans to exploit a new sponsorship unit, headed by Alan Kingston, who also joined from Hill & Knowlton last December.

Williams thinks it unlikely that the firm will repeat its triple digit growth performance this year, but adds: 'I don't think we should be that far off it.'

JACKIE COOPER PR 14 - £4,324,728 (A)

The subject of unresolved market speculation regarding its corporate future, Jackie Cooper PR (JCPR) bounced back from its three per cent drop in fee income between 2001 and 2002. This year, the agency generated a nine per cent rise from £3,953,096 in 2002 to £4,324,728 in 2003.

According to founding partner Robert Phillips, this rise in fee income can be attributed to a combination of new business wins, as well as some lucrative campaign work for existing clients. However, he does concede that many in the PR industry 'had a tough time' during 2003.

This work for existing clients that contributed towards the fee income increase included a consumer launch for ING Direct, and promoting O2's sponsorship involvement during the Rugby World Cup.

Last year also proved to be a good year for client wins, as Wembley National Stadium, Hustler Hollywood UK, Thomas Pink Shirts and Leapfrog Toys were brought into the fold. Arguably, the agency's most high-profile campaign was the promotion around the retirement of Concorde.

However, the year did witness some account losses for the agency, such as Laura Ashley and The Number, which runs the 118-118 directory service.

JCPR managed to maintain its consumer specialist focus and, says Phillips, there are no plans this year to branch out into other areas in the coming year. Nevertheless, the firm will continue to work closely on an ad hoc basis with local agencies across Europe.

Staff benefits are a priority for the agency, providing perks such as subsidised travel, gym membership and six-month sabbaticals. Current staffing levels of 61 are not expected to change significantly during 2004, although so far this year the agency has won one major client, handling a campaign to be launched later in the year for the Confederation of British Industry to encourage entrepreneurial drive among young people.

KETCHUM - £11,163,617 (CH, Year End 31/12/02)

David Gallagher, Ketchum London chief executive, describes 2003 as 'the best year ever in the UK for the agency in terms of overall revenue and growth'. The most recent figures from Companies House put the firm's gross income for 2002 at more than £11m. Since then, the agency has experienced increased spending from existing clients including Procter & Gamble, Britvic, Pfizer and Starbucks.

The firm's best-performing practice in 2003 was healthcare which, according to Gallagher, showed double-digit growth and expanded from 40 to 50 staff.

Last December, GlaxoSmithKline awarded the division its entire UK respiratory business, while further work came from AstraZeneca's blood pressure treatment Atacand and Roche's ongoing HIV portfolio.

Ketchum's consumer practice grew less dramatically, but off a stronger base, attracting a raft of new clients throughout the year, including Orange, Wedgwood and Sony, which hired the agency last autumn to launch its latest digital TV.

Meanwhile, Gallagher states that the corporate division 'stayed fairly flat, experiencing only single-figure growth in 2003'. This is something the firm intends to turn around this year, with the aid of former Tory party director of strategic comms Paul Baverstock, who arrived as corporate practice MD in February.

Other personnel changes include the promotion of healthcare MD Mark Cater to a European remit; his position was filled by former deputy healthcare MD Avril Lee. Gallagher was promoted to London CEO last December, replacing Jon Higgins who took on the role of European chief executive.

The agency's sports sponsorship division, which looks after clients including Pepsi, Adidas, Kodak and Lloyds TSB, is currently in flux, following the defection of its PR head Steve Martin to M&C Saatchi Sponsorship. However, the greatest blow in 2003, was the death of former UK chief James Maxwell, in June. 'It was a big loss and a big change for us,' says Gallagher.

KINROSS & RENDER 55 - £1,471,410 (A)

After 16 years in the business, Kinross & Render (K&R) endured a testing 2003, with fee income dropping by 19 per cent to under £1.5m.

'The whole industry experienced a pressure on client rates, while there was also a general trend for retained clients to move to a project basis, a trend that then reversed towards the end of the year,' says agency CEO Paul Philpotts.

Over the year, the firm lost only one major client, delivery specialist UPS, which decided to consolidate its PR across Europe and switch to Edelman.

Meanwhile, public sector business proved resilient, with the Design Council awarding the agency a City communications project in June.

Other new clients included the Department of Education and Skills, insurer Zurich Municipal and Nikon Instruments, which hired the firm to roll out its Nikon Coolscope, a high-tech microscope.

Last October, K&R enticed James Nunn back from running his own business in Australia to head up the agency's technology-focused B2B division, which works with clients such as Xerox.

However, Philpotts says: 'The main emphasis in 2003 was restructuring the business to anticipate a revival.' As such, Philpotts - a one-time Ogilvy European head - joined last summer and took over day-to-day management of the firm from co-founder Sara Render, who stepped up to the position of chairman.

Plans are now afoot to move the agency on to faster growth, establish new practices and build international business through global PR network ECCO.

In February, the agency merged with consumer specialist Chambers Cox PR, which handles drinks company Hall and Woodhouse, purveyors of Badger Beers. Further deals are also in the pipeline.

'We took the decision last year to start extending beyond our core business areas - mostly through mergers - and we are currently in discussions with a range of small consultancies, across public affairs, corporate, financial, consumer and technology,' says Philpotts.

LEWIS COMMUNICATIONS 8 - £5,534,339 (B)

The Top 150's leading specialist technology PR agency, Lewis had another storming year, with fee income rising from £5,486,466 to £5,534,339 in 2003, despite operating in a very tough industry sector.

Over the past year, Lewis opened offices in Copenhagen, Madrid, Milan, San Francisco and Stockholm, and completed its first acquisition, Australian consultancy Blackie Mcdonald's Singapore office. The firm also won high-profile campaigns including BT Yahoo! and Bonus Print.

The big recruit for 2003 was Michael Gonzalez, who joined as head of European media from Praxis. There have been no redundancies ever at Lewis, and UK general manager Kath Pooley says: 'We've never stopped recruiting.

We recruit as we win new business, but if we spot good people, our approach is to take them on for the future.'

She says the agency is tempering its work hard, play hard reputation by becoming more family friendly and offering overseas secondments: there are currently eight UK staff seconded to offices in Boston, San Diego, San Francisco and Sydney.

Technology has always been Lewis's bread and butter, but Pooley says there is an increasing demand for corporate work from clients such as Phones4U, and also support for corporate social responsibility and community relations.

As a result, the company will be expanding into public affairs, corporate and financial PR and more personal PR this year, and expects some of these divisions to rival the size of the technology division in a year's time.

Lewis is also planning expansion into the Asian, Eastern Europe and Latin American markets to give it global capacity.

One of Lewis's key marketing tools is the media guide that it produces for each of its markets, with key publications, editors and contact details of national, business, consumer and IT media.

In the UK, the company sends out around 4,000 guides per year. Lewis also holds quarterly industry networking forums for senior clients and prospects.

LEXIS PUBLIC RELATIONS 16 - £4,020,956 (A)

Lexis chief executive Hugh Birley describes 2003 as 'a challenging year in difficult market conditions,' with fee income dropping by a painful 15 per cent from £4,752,366 to £4,020,956.

Around £500,000 of this loss was down to both the effective closure of the technology division after Lexis's purchase of Lexicon in 2001 failed to work out, and downturn of around 50 per cent in digital business.

Nevertheless, the agency demonstrated its consumer strength by hanging on to most of its major clients, with the only loss of any size being Interflora. Birley says client budgets seemed to start freeing up in the second half of the year, and the team won Baileys, Travel Inn, Conqueror paper and Unilever's Dove brand. Lexis also picked up the 3 Mobile business at the end of 2003.

Birley, who led the management buyout at Lexis in 2002, says the company's pitch strategy shifted during 2003: 'We've become more targeted and selective about who we approach and who we pitch to. There were a lot of pitches going on, with a lot of people on the lists, which did not result in any kind of work.' Lexis's marketing activity has also extended to putting on a consumer brand networking event, out of which the agency has already won a project for Mothercare.

Employee numbers are level, but the agency has cut back slightly on support staff and refocused on client-facing people. The major hire last year was creative director Tim Hayward, who joined from innovation company What If.

Birley says the first quarter has been good and he is confident that Lexis will return to growth this year. But, he adds: 'We still have to advise our clients in a really professional manner and do the job right. There is less of a trench mentality now, but there is no cause for unguarded optimism.'

MANNING SELVAGE & LEE - Figures not available (see p19)

It has been a notably good year for full-service consultancy Manning Selvage & Lee (MS&L), which has risen steadily up the Top 150 table over the years.

The company grew during 2003 although, owing to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, as a subsidiary of Publicis, MS&L cannot release its PR fee income. However, MS&L managing director Nicholas Walters says: 'We are hitting the published, recognised Publicis margin figure of 15 per cent.'

It is safe to surmise, on evidence that can be supplied, that growth has been steady and, according to Walters, spread across the entire business.

'It has been a year of focusing on some of our core sector group offerings,' he says.

The agency, which includes two-year old financial shop Capital MS&L, now employs 85 people after expanding by eight employees last year to accommodate a raft of important account wins. Its UK and European healthcare chief Charlotte Ersobell left in June and was replaced with an internal promotion of Sally Bradford. Other important hires included former Banking Technology editor Michael Goodbody as a consultant, two account directors in its consumer division and two senior associates for the consumer group.

Major wins last year included work for Proctor&Gamble's Pantene and Herbal Essence brands, along with major accounts in its ethical and consumer healthcare practice for Philips Medical Systems, Roche brand Xelox and two Lilly brands: Forteo and Cialis.

Consumer electronics performed well, with the agency handling the launch of Xbox Live across Europe, Philips Consumer Electronics and further telecoms and technology work with First Data Corp, Corel, Upaid, Digex and Hyfinity.

Capital MS&L won major privatisation work with South Africa's Telkom, Belgium's Belgacom and advised P&G on its 6.5bn euros acquisition of Wella.

Walters says confidence in the agency this year remains high: 'We're expecting similar growth this year just from the performance of the first three months,' he says.

RED DOOR COMMUNICATIONS 43 - £1,828,725 (B)

Specialist healthcare agency Red Door Communications is gaining momentum and continued its pattern of doubling its income every year since it was established in 2000, with fees of £1,828,725 in 2003 compared to £904,547 in 2002.

Managing director Catherine Warne says that the company's stance has always been to have the right number of the right people to manage the level of business the agency wants: 'Our growth strategy is not to be the biggest but the best, and we have taken a very considered approach to growth. We've never recruited to fill a new client - the pitch team will work on the business. We don't do off-the-peg PR - we need to know before we pitch that we can service that client immediately, and we do a lot of research before we pitch.'

This approach is paying off, with not a single client lost in 2003. Work for existing clients including Aventis Pasteur, MSD and Lilly grew, and the 25-strong agency also picked up some new clients, including cardiology and transplantation work for Novartis, the first cannabis-based product from Bauer, and haemophilia work with Baxter Healthcare.

At the end of 2003, Red Door took on AstraZeneca's significant work on Crestor, which had been with Burson-Marsteller, and it won a slew of industry awards during the year, including PRWeek specialist consultancy of the year.

The main management change was the promotion of Catherine Devaney to associate director. The consultancy also strengthened its comprehensive training programme for its mainly senior team with the creation of a forum for account directors.

One of the agency's key marketing activities is its active involvement with the best practice work of the Healthcare Communications Association (HCA), of which Warne was founding chair, while Red Door director Julia Tollis is also on the HCA committee.

Warne says it feels as though this year Red Door is coming of age, although she is not holding out to continue the trend for doubling the company's income. 'That might be an unrealistic expectation,' she says.

RESOLUTE COMMUNICATIONS 81 - £1,088,819 (B)

Healthcare boutique Resolute Communications broke the £1m fee income level this year after only two years in business, marking a period of fast growth that is continuing into 2004.

Founded and managed by two former senior Ketchum managers, Paul Blackburn and Anna Korving, the agency has seen an 87 per cent rise in fee income during the year, after having initially launched without clients.

Korving says: 'We aim to be the most influential healthcare agency, in the sense that we want to work on products that dramatically affect people's health, and we want our work to be recognised through awards.'

Last year's phenomenal growth rate was down to three 'major international wins' and organic growth of existing business, according to Korving, who said that the majority of the agency's clients have requested confidentiality.

Shire Pharmaceuticals is a major client. The agency works on a UK and international level with a brief that covers existing brands and new product launches. The firm also took on its first global brief last year, advising Roche on its oncology brand Avastia out of Switzerland.

Although Resolute Communications lacks an international network, the international direction of the agency is set to continue with an office scheduled to open in New Jersey in the United States this year, says Blackburn: 'We already have office agreements in place for Resolute US - we have been actively looking to set that up for several months.'

'We see the US as such an important market for our brand, as a lot of healthcare work is assigned and comes from the US into Europe,' he adds.

The company hired Sarah Pracey as an associate director last year to bring the headcount to 14.

Blackburn says that the continual buoyancy of the healthcare market means that 2004 is already shaping up to be financially healthy for Resolute.

'This year we set ourselves a 50 per cent growth target, and I'm pleased to say that we already have 50 per cent growth in terms of signed-up income.'

TAYLOR HERRING 107 - £829,051 (B) Taylor Herring experienced massive growth in 2003, with a 69 per cent rise in fee income from £489,885 to £829,051. Agency co-founder James Herring puts this largely down to the entertainment specialist's marketing strategy of converting project work with clients into retained business.

This came as the agency perceived an increased feeling among clients of the value of PR during the year.

Clients won as retained business from project work in 2003 include Flextech Television - which runs Living TV - Channel Four and Talkback Thames.

The only retained client that was lost in the year was Virgin Radio.

For Taylor Herring another area of growth has been in crisis management, with the most high-profile client being former This Morning presenter John Leslie. Herring said: 'Whether it's a celebrity or someone in business, we are marketing ourselves as being able to help when high-profile people are in a huge amount of trouble with the red tops.'

Herring concedes that in the PR industry the firm is best known for its entertainment work, and with showbusiness wins during 2003 including the comedian Peter Kay and singer Robbie Williams, this is a justified comment.

But the aim for 2004, says Herring, is to expand into the consumer sector and pursue FMCG clients. The seeds of this were sown in 2003 with wins including Heineken and Men's Health.

The increase in fee income has been coupled with an increase of staff from ten to 16 during 2003. Staff benefits include a ten per cent commission on new business generated and bonuses for returning business. The increase in staff has led to the firm planning to vacate its Notting Hill office to a larger building in the same area of London during 2004.

WRITE IMAGE 12 - £4,628,874 (B)

Technology specialist Write Image witnessed an 18 per cent leap in fee income in 2003 to £4,628,874, from £3,906,582 the previous year.

CEO Steve Ellis attributes this steady growth to existing client spend, in addition to extending the variety of services on offer to clients.

Furthermore, the agency achieved a healthy batch of client wins, including software firms FileNet, Trayport, Fundtech, Accurate Software and ACI Worldwide.

Despite these wins, he adds that the marketing focus is to 'concentrate our energy on organic growth derived from supporting our existing clients', rather than pure new business. An example of this is extending the financial services support it gives to client BT Syntegra to cover an additional travel and leisure brief during 2003.

Last year was not entirely smooth for the privately run firm, which launched 15 years ago. Owing to its global focus with offices in London, Seattle, New York and another due to open in Singapore later this year, the devaluation of the dollar has affected business. Ellis explains that 'clients who budget for big programmes in dollars, still want the same level of activity despite their budget being eroded by devaluation'.

Also in 2003, the agency sold its 50 per cent stake in a conference company, which was jointly run with Incisive Media for an undisclosed sum. But with regards to confidence in the market, Ellis is sceptical, adding that the company manages its finances tightly and that a 'few green shoots on the horizon aren't going to change our behaviour'.

Looking ahead to the rest of the year, Ellis sees the focus for 2004 looking to develop measurement and reporting, and staff training.

Overall headcount is 165, including 25 software developers that build systems and other technology tools for clients. Ellis says that the firm is looking to recruit into 2004, especially those with knowledge of the increasingly lucrative public sector IT arena, which suggests that this will be a possible area of expansion.

(A) Negative Income growth (B) Income growth

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