THE TOP EUROPEAN PR CONSULTANCIES 2000: NETHERLANDS - Business is booming in the Dutch market which, in turn, has boosted the health of PR

As business in the Netherlands booms, the PR industry is benefiting across the board. The Dutch economy has been one of the most successful in Europe in recent years, enjoying rapid growth, matched by low inflation and falling unemployment. And when business is strong, communications spend is not far behind. ’PR is flourishing because companies have more money to spend,’ says Anja Verhey, director of Brodeur Worldwide Amsterdam.

As business in the Netherlands booms, the PR industry is benefiting

across the board. The Dutch economy has been one of the most successful

in Europe in recent years, enjoying rapid growth, matched by low

inflation and falling unemployment. And when business is strong,

communications spend is not far behind. ’PR is flourishing because

companies have more money to spend,’ says Anja Verhey, director of

Brodeur Worldwide Amsterdam.



In fact, while others now aspire to emulate the Dutch economic model,

the domestic market is beginning to show signs of over-heating. Wages

are rising at a phenomenal rate and there is a risk that inflation may

start galloping. As a member of EMU, it is significant that the

Netherlands cannot take measures to cool its economy without the say of

the European Central Bank. However, while there is some concern that the

current economic boom may backfire, the business environment remains

good, with international expansion a major factor. Indeed, according to

Frans van der Grint, CEO of Hill and Knowlton Nederland, the Netherlands

is now the second largest foreign investor in the US.



In addition to local players, such advances are also favouring the UK’s

financial experts.In March this year, Smithfield Financial, part of The

Good Relations Group, was appointed to handle the flotation on the

Amsterdam stock exchange of KPN Mobile, due later this year. With 10

million subscribers, KPN Mobile is expected to have a market

capitalisation of pounds 25 billion and will be one of the largest IPOs

taking place in Europe.



But Dutch PR is a different animal to that in the UK, not least because

the local media landscape is quite small. With only 50 or so IT

journalists in the Netherlands, specialists in niche areas are on

first-name terms with all their relevant contacts. In addition, the PR

environment is coloured by the country’s political stability and

coalition government. ’We are a society of consensus,’ says Thijs

Stoffer, managing partner of Gouda-based Van Dantzig and Lichtenveldt.

’You have to be very sensitive to the opinions of stakeholders and meet

and match business partners with the interests of politicians.’



Despite the compact market, the European groups are strengthening their

presence in Holland. Last September, GCI Group bought a majority stake

in Van Dantzig. This has provided the corporate PR and public affairs

specialist with the international support its clients require and

complemented GCI’s consumer PR offering from GCI Holland.



In November, Euro RSCG bought top agency Bikker Communic-ation Group

founded in 1989 by Leendert Bikker. The agency has continued to be run

independently, specialising in corporate communications, media

relations, brand communications and public affairs, but Bikker has

relinquished his CEO role to Geerd Schlangen, previously managing

partner at agency Van Sluis Communicatie, and joined the Dutch board of

Euro RSCG. Other global marketing and PR groups are also strengthening

their presence in the Netherlands.



At the end of May, Schoep and Van der Toorn, part of the Brodeur

network, created a new Brodeur Worldwide Amsterdam brand. Although

Brodeur parent company Omnicom’s Diversified Agency Services division

owns 65 per cent of the business, the agency is maintaining the local

reputation of its Schoep and Van der Toorn brand to service public

sector clients.



In common with the global PR market, the Netherlands has benefited from

the dot.com gold rush. The major players agree that recent dot.com

disasters have cooled the market hype, but the dot.com explosion has

seen a number of new PR start-ups, and some traditional PR players

setting up new divisions to offer specialist advice. The dot.com

explosion has seen some traditional agencies setting up new divisions to

offer specialist advice. Last November, Van Hulzen PR established a new

IR and financial services unit. Led by Kees Kamp, a former partner at

Bureau Mock, this aims to help clients with their funding and corporate

image from start-up to IPO and beyond.



However, many of the large global groups with regional offices in the

Netherlands are competing with local players on several fronts. ’We

can’t afford to be specialists,’ says Joan Clements, MD and CEO of

Shandwick Nederland. ’There is a huge amount of competition and many of

us are working the same waters.’



Ferdinand Helmann, partner at Amstelveen-based Bennis Porter Novelli, is

chairman of Precom, the informal association of leading Dutch PR

agencies set up in 1997. It is one of two Dutch associations, the VPRA

being the other, headed by Frank Lether. At a time when the employment

market is strong, and financial performance and profit forecasting are

key influences, the role of PR in protecting corporate image is vital.

’In many ways, financial PR is taking the lead in the fundamental

changes in the Dutch communication practice,’ says Ton de Roo secretary

of the Precom association and managing partner of Van Hultzen PR. ’The

economic developments and the sustained upward surge of the stock market

have created a climate in which shareholder value has become a major

driving force.’





- Precom has 13 members, which must all have a minimum turnover of one

million guilders and to have been in operation for more than five

years.



- VPRA has 33 members. Consultancies must have been operating for at

least three years, with minimum turnover of 150,000 guilders and at

least four clients.





EURO CONSULTANCIES - Netherlands


Rank Company/Status               Fee income (pounds)  Grth     Location

99                                     99          98     %

1    Winkelman & Van Hessen/    5,324,324   5,438,135    -2    The Hague

     Independent

2    Bikker/                    4,800,000   5,980,810   -20    Rotterdam

     Euro RSCG subsidiary

3    Van Sluis Communicatie/    3,470,588   2,955,224    17    Amsterdam

     Inter PR network

4    Bennis Porter Novelli=/    3,348,978   2,985,075    12    Amsterdam

     PN subsidiary

5    Schoep and Van der Toorn/  3,223,881   2,358,209    37    Amsterdam

     Brodeur network

6    GCI VDL/Holland1/          2,110,000     719,104   193       Gouda/

     GCI subsidiary                                            Amsterdam

7    Burson-Marsteller=/        1,984,000   1,960,299     1    The Hague

     B-M subsidiary

8    Hill & Knowlton

     Nederland=/                1,823,000   1,554,000    17    The Hague

     H&K subsidiary

9    Van Luyken=/               1,791,045   1,641,791     9      Haarlem

     Entente network

10   Van Rossum/                1,700,000   1,400,000    21    Amsterdam

     Independent

11   Bex van der Schans=/       1,293,114     923,164    40    Eindhoven

     ECCO network

12   European Marketing Group/  1,250,000   1,200,000     4  Hoogerheide

     Independent

13   Adequaat=/                 1,208,584   1,262,411    -4      De Lier

     Independent

14   Paul Kok Consultants=/     1,000,000     788,060    27    Groenekan

     Independent

15   Van Hulzen PR=/              914,000     886,000     3  Voorschoten

     Independent

16   Berenschot Communicatie=/    890,000     480,000    85      Utrecht

     Berenschot subsidiary

17   Hollander van der Mey MSL=/  750,000     745,997     1    The Hague

     MS& L subsidiary

=17  DLV/                         750,000     510,000    47     Hooddorp

     Embrace network

19   Zwart and Partners/          717,175     647,985    11       Alphen

     Independent

20   Bureau Broekman/             630,000     597,014     6     Nijmegen

     Independent

21   Pauw and Van Spaendonck*/    602,008     581,580     4    The Hague

     Van Spaendonck Groep

22   Shandwick Nederland/         532,000     340,836    56    The Hague

     IPR subsidiary

23   Burosix PR Adviseurs*/       530,000     500,000     6     Reenwijk

     Independent

24   Lubbers De Jong & Partners/  447,761     320,149    40    Amsterdam

     Fireworks network

25   Text 100/                    401,997     322,801    25    Amsterdam

     Text 100 subsidiary


All figures relate to the year ended 31 December 1999

Fee income= PR fees only

*Denotes member of VPRA

= denotes member of Precom

1 Includes figures for Van Dantzige Lichtenveldt



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