THE TOP 150 PR CONSULTANCIES 2000: Ups and downs - It was a year in which internet growth dominated, with the sector emerging as the main driver of business for consultancies in all sectors throughout 1999. (1 of 2)

(1) INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC RELATIONS (pounds 38,636,000) - Climber

(1) INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC RELATIONS (pounds 38,636,000) -


It was an exciting year for both International’s major brands, the

Shandwick and Weber groups of companies. The promotion of Michael Murphy

to deputy worldwide CEO in autumn left a void in the upper echelons of

Shandwick UK. But in January this year, former Railtrack corporate

affairs director Philip Dewhurst stepped into the breach when he was

appointed UK chief executive. This month the group’s rebranding extended

to Shandwick Welbeck, which is now branded Shandwick Consumer and

Entertainment and includes a new guerilla PR arm called Razor. Fee

income for Shandwick International was up 12 per cent, in the year the

company celebrated its 25th anniversary. Group wins included the Meat

and Livestock Commission, Hewlett Packard, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers,

Anglian Water and the European launch of on-line recruitment of Wideyes

Dewhurst says: ’Over the year, we saw more effective cross-working

between the specialist units within Shandwick. We also developed

relationships with our sister IPR companies, especially McCann-Erickson

and Shandwick US.’

Weber experienced dramatic new client expansion in the second half of

1999, largely driven by the surge in business. ’With our

financial and corporate communications arm Weber Ludgate, we are in a

strong position to take internet start-ups through the entire lifecycle

of early round funding to IPO and beyond,’ says Weber Europe managing

director Cathy Pittham. The agency extended its intranet-based client

service model, established a formal media training division, and

launched new planning services.

In December, the group announced it was introducing flexible hours in a

bid to overcome the shortage of specialist staff plaguing the hi-tech

communications sector. Weber@Work will give staff time management

training to help them maximise the option of working a four-day week,

working part-time or from home. Plans for 2000 include the setting up of

a new and independently branded division, Red Whistle, due to launch in

the summer to serve Weber’s growing consumer and consumer technology

clients such as on-line jeweller Goldavenue.

(2) Bell Pottinger Communications (pounds 34,390,000) - No change

The biggest shake-up of the year at Bell Pottinger Communications came

in October, when Lord Bell reorganised the 23 brands owned by holding

company Chime Communications.

The new structure which came into effect in January 2000 divides the

group into five businesses: HHCL, Bell Pottinger, Smithfield Design and

AMD, Bell Pottinger Good Relations, and Opinion Leader Research. The

Bell Pottinger brand includes financial and public affairs divisions,

plus consumer shop Green Moon and sports marketer Michael Humphreys and

Partners. Also in October, Bell Pottinger acquired food PR specialist

Wearne Associates.

Its clients were transferred into the Good Relations Group, while the

Wearne brand is being rebuilt as a crisis management specialist. In

September, Good Relations was merged with newly-acquired agency Landmark

Corporate Communications. This year the group continued shopping. In

March, it bought Harvard PR for an initial consideration of pounds 8.4

million, contract publisher Brass Tacks for an initial consideration of

pounds 1.4 million and internet communications consultancy Insight for

an initial consideration of pounds 3 million.

Wins across the group included London Transport, British Nuclear Fuels,

NatWest, Sega Europe, Nescafe,, Walmart and Demon


Losses included the six-figure, pan-European account from Barclays

Global Investors which went to Hill and Knowlton after three-and-a-half

years with Bell Pottinger Financial. In May, Bell Pottinger

Communications parted company with the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial

Fund, following the appointment of its own full-time staff.

In October, Chris Satterthwaite, former CEO of HHCL, was appointed the

first chief executive of the Bell Pottinger brand. In January, Beattie

Media’s former London chief David Rydell was appointed a director with

special responsibilities for developing new business, while in February,

John Tibbs joined Bell Pottinger as managing director of its sports


He was previously head of sports marketing and sponsorship at Hill and


(3) CITIGATE DEWE ROGERSON (pounds 30,026,902) - No change

Growth in European mergers and acquisitions activity and the coming to

market of a host of new media companies helped propel Citigate Dewe

Rogerson’s fee income up by 13 per cent to just over pounds 30 million.

A year after Citigate’s merger with Dewe Rogerson, the third biggest PR

concern in the UK picked up a raft of high-profile work as parent

company Incepta was busy attempting to buy the Lopex group. ’We’ve been

motoring at quite a rate,’ says David Wright, CEO of parent company

Incepta. On the M&A front, CDR was hired by Olivetti to handle its

pounds 35 billion hostile takeover bid for Telecom Italia, with a brief

which included investor relations, internal communications and

advertising. More work in the telecoms sector came from mobile phone

operator Orange as it was bid for by German company Mannesmann.

Also in Europe, CDR was hired to defend Paribas against a takeover bid

by Banque Nationale de Paris. In the UK, Punch Taverns appointed the

agency to replace the Maitland Consultancy as its financial PR agency as

it bid for Allied Domecq’s pub and off-licence interests.

CDR was also a major beneficiary of the activity in the new media


Last May it was hired to build the brand of Dixon’s free internet

service provider, Freeserve, in the City in the run up to flotation. also hired CDR to handle financial and corporate PR as it

prepared for its IPO. Another significant new business win for CDR was

the UK’s third largest bookmaker Coral, which handed it a financial and

corporate brief.

Last April, Citigate Westminster acquired the Public Policy Unit in a

bid to create a merged public affairs unit with total billings of pounds

3.5 million. In the autumn Citigate Westminster was rebranded Citigate

Public Affairs. A highlight of the year for the public affairs team was

winning the PA account from cross-Channel train operator Eurostar in a

brief covering UK and EU monitoring and strategic government relations


Citigate Westminster deputy chairman Richard Faulkner stood down in the

summer to take up a seat in the Lords, but took on a new role advising

parent company Incepta on its marketing and new business strategy.The

number of PR staff at Citigate dropped slightly between 1998 and 1999

from 311 to 295.

(4) HILL AND KNOWLTON (pounds 25,926,000) - No change

It was a solid year for Hill and Knowlton, which saw fee income grow by

12 per cent, although the staff merry-go-round was in full swing.It was

all change at the top in January 1999 when David McLaren was appointed

chairman and Marie Louise Windeler and Andy Laurence became joint chief

executives. Early this year deputy chairman and managing director of

public affairs and corporate practice, Edward Bickham, left the agency

after seven years. In February this year John Tibbs, sports marketing

and sponsorship head, departed after four years to join Bell Pottinger,

as did Giles Fraser, managing director of the information industries

division, who left to set up his own agency. Simon Pearce, corporate and

public affairs director, announced he was leaving the agency last August

after nine years. Incoming staff this January included Paula Barrow, who

joined Hill and Knowlton’s youth marketing division from Levi Strauss as

senior associate director, and former BA internal communications head,

Lindsay Eynnon, who arrived as director of H&K’s internal communications


The year saw plenty of wins including US-based mobile phone advertising

firm Spotcast, which appointed the agency to handle its European media

relations brief. Chrysalis Radio hired H&K to launch and promote its web

site. Gillette Group took on the agency to handle the launch of a new

toothbrush from its Oral-B brand, while dance radio station Atlantic 252

appointed H&K with a brief to attract younger listeners. Other wins

included Barclays,, Shell Exploration, Crookes, Milupa, Glaxo

Wellcome, Benecol,, Nortel Networks and So Good. On the

minus side, H&K parted company with Walkers, Cadbury and EDS.

Joint chief executive Windeler says: ’The last year has seen a period of

consolidation and development of the agency. We performed strongly

through tough trading conditions.’

Windeler adds that the healthcare and financial services groups

redefined their offers during the year, while substantial growth was

experienced in the information technology industries group and in the

food and nutrition group.

In November, Hill and Knowlton restructured its healthcare division

following the merger of its consumer healthcare division with its

ethical practice.

(5) COUNTRYWIDE PORTER NOVELLI (pounds 19,584,259) - Climber

The past year has seen a raft of internal changes within CPN. The agency

has restructured itself to embrace a separate management strategy for UK

and Europe, and has recommitted itself to front-line leadership in

planning, research and evaluation. It also launched a new financial

services practice, headed by Clare Harbord, who was recruited from Eagle

Star. Neil Backwith was appointed UK CEO, taking over the mantle from

Peter Hehir, who continued as chairman, while Debbie Parriss, MD of

CPN’s Banbury office and client service director Chris Woodcock

announced they were leaving to set up their own PR agency after ten

years with Countrywide.

It was agreed that client Powerhouse Retail should be transferred to


In the autumn, CPN was appointed to promote Vauxhall’s GM credit

card.Other wins included Abbott International, Drinks Direct, Gillette,

Norwich Union Personal Finance, St Kitts and Nevis Tourist Board and

Yorkshire Water.

Losses included KP Foods (although not KP Nuts), Powerhouse Retail, Eden

Vale, Bass (Carling, Hooch and Red), BT Red, Popcorn Institute, and W H

Smith Retail.

In February this year, Countrywide Porter Novelli was appointed to

handle all communications for CropGen, a new UK initiative from a

consortium of biotech companies, including Aventis CropScience, Monsanto

and Novartis Seeds, which aims to promote a balanced debate about

genetically modified (GM) foods.

Backwith says he was satisfied with the past 12 months: ’The reasons for

our continued success include good open management and better, more

professional marketing, bringing our external reputation more up-to-date

with the reality.’ He also cites CPN’s ’one company’ approach to new

business as another contributing factor, allowing the best resources to

be allocated, regardless of location.

(6) BURSON-MARSTELLER (pounds 18,061,000) - Faller

Dermot McNulty assumed the reins as European president and CEO of

Burson-Marsteller in November 1999. In March this year, four years after

its decision to move profit and loss control to European-wide practices,

the agency appointed Allan Biggar as its first UK chief executive

officer in what some have called a U-turn. However, McNulty insists that

the change was a result of B-M’s continuing growth. The agency beefed up

its consumer marketing team this year, and also launched BKSH, the

branded government relations division of Burson-Marsteller, headed by

Ian Lindsley. Elsewhere, Jeff Hunt was named as chief operating officer

for Europe, while Martin Langford returned from Asia to lead issues and

crisis work across Europe. New European public affairs practitioner

Gavin Grant, formerly of The Body Shop, joined B-M, as did Deborah Saw,

former MD of Fleishman-Hillard London. Saw leads B-M’s marketing

business team. More resources were put into healthcare with Ralph Sutton

recalled from Australia to lead the healthcare business in London, while

Michelle Arness-Frederic is leading major healthcare clients.

(7) GCI UK/APCO (pounds 11,471,600) - Climber

In last year’s Top 150, GCI London chief executive Adrian Wheeler

declared his aim to hit the UK top ten within a year. With fee income

growth of 55 per cent, and a move of seven places up the table, he has

pulled it off. The big news for 1999 was the acquisition of Jane Howard

PR, completed in August, which beefed up the group’s consumer PR

business and brought clients such as Scottish and Newcastle and Carphone

Warehouse into the GCI fold. Last year, the agency signed a strategic

alliance with corporate and issues management specialist Pettifor

Morrow, recruited Liam Fitzpatrick to develop a change management

business, and appointed its first public affairs consultant, Rod

Cartwright, who heads a new section GCI Political Counsel.In 1999, the

agency handled nine web site launches, including the RAC’s on-line ’Red’

service, and by the end of the year had 18 internet-based companies

across its businesses. Much of this was achieved by a new digital

communications team, headed by Richard Gilbert.

However, existing divisions within the group were the primary drivers of

growth, picking up new accounts including Cap Gemini Life Sciences,

Novartis, WH Smith, BA and the DTI.

GCI also had a good year in terms of developing the talents of its own

people, sponsoring staff through the IPR Diploma as well as the new PRCA

Diploma in Consultancy Management. In addition, Rachel Terry from the

healthcare division and head of technology Caroline Randle were

appointed to the board of GCI London, while Alex Mackey was made

managing director of financial and investor relations consultancy GCI


(8) MEDICAL ACTION COMMUNICATIONS (pounds 9,900,000) - Climber

MAC’s fee income growth of 32 per cent puts it in the top 10 this year.

CEO Gary Hobbs believes this success is a testament to the people within

the agency. Last year saw the agency strengthen its relationship with

long-standing pharmaceutical clients such as Pfizer and Schering-Plough.

It also embarked upon global programmes for several new clients

including F Hoffmann-La Roche, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Glaxo Wellcome, and

Johnson and Johnson.

Hobbs arrived at the beginning of 1999 from Franklin Scientific

Publications, where he was MD, replacing Stephen Bullock. He initiated a

review of every element of the company culture and developed a new

branding for MAC. Entitled ’Create the future’ this was developed both

as a ’call to arms’ for MAC employees and as a verbal distillation of

its offering to clients. Jasmine Zidane joined in January this year as

director of scientific services, from Oxford Clinical


In 1999, following Roche’s acquisition of Boehringer-Mannheim, the

agency was assigned the task of developing a complete realignment of

communications for Roche’s carvedilol heart treatment, branded Eucardic

in the UK.

’The healthcare agency of the future will deliver truly excellent

communications across the spectrum of media channels, using traditional

and new media, from a single office,’ says Hobbs.

(9) CHARLES BARKER BSMG (pounds 9,821,166) - Faller

Charles Barker dropped two places in the table with a two per cent

growth in fee income. As part of Charles Barker’s acquisitions strategy,

lobbying shop LSA was bought in January 1999, while specialist food and

drink consultancy Walker Williams was acquired in May. The consultancy

will work as a separate unit within Charles Barker BSMG, forming the

company’s new food and drink division.

At the start of 1999, the agency reviewed its portfolio of clients and

markets and decided to concentrate on blue-chip, international work.

’Overall we grew modestly in the year because of the repositioning of

the portfolio.

We were going for greater profitability and were prepared for fee income

to drop for a year,’ says CEO Nan Williams. ’We gained some very

significant new clients and acquired specialist businesses to that end,

but we also deliberately pulled out of certain clients and parts of the

market which no longer matched our profile. In many ways it was a ’set

up’ year to put us on the right base to go for a top five place over the

next couple of years.’

Williams believes any growth in the year was down to an increase in

international capability, which led to joint pitches and programmes with

sister offices in the US and Europe, plus a clearer definition of

practice areas.

In December, former account director for British Midland, Toby Nichol,

left the agency to join The Easygroup, while Pamela Fieldhouse and Ray

Eglington became new joint managing directors.

Personally, it was a good year for Williams, who was ranked higher than

Margaret Thatcher in Good Housekeeping magazine’s 100 most influential

women in the UK.

(10) BISS LANCASTER (pounds 9,687,832) - No change

’The first six months were slow, but we had a very strong second half,’

says Biss Lancaster chairman Graham Lancaster of 1999, a year during

which fee income rose by ten per cent. During the year Biss Lancaster

acquired regional network Leedex PR and merged it with its existing

regional agency GTPR, creating a network of offices in London,

Manchester, Leeds, Bristol, and Edinburgh trading as Leedex GTPR and

reporting to Biss Lancaster MD, Isabel Greenwood. ’We believe in

regional PR and think we can add value to good companies in that area,’

comments Lancaster.

One of the agency’s targets for the year was to increase international

work with other Euro RSCG companies. International wins included global

satellite network Inmarsat and US conglomerate UTC (United


The strongest growth came from telecoms and business-to-business


Besides Inmarsat, other new telecoms work came from US company GTS.

Already on BT’s roster of agencies, Biss Lancaster picked up new work

from alarm systems company BT Redcare.

A major internet win was the on-line bank Egg. The agency also developed

a thriving business creating web sites, with customers including the

Banking Code Standards Board(BCSB) and Mortgage Code Compliance Board


There was strong growth in corporate work, and Lancaster says that

around 50 per cent of the agency’s work is now in the corporate area. As

well as the BCSB and MCCB, clients in this area include the Law Society.

Traditionally strong in the travel sector, Biss Lancaster landed the

trade and consumer account to promote Rank Group’s Haven and Haven

Europe holiday parks.

Of existing clients, most significant growth came from Corus (formerly

British Steel). On the downside, accounts were lost from Yellow Pages

and Business Pages, Shell, and East Midlands Electricity, which was the

subject of a takeover.

This year, Biss Lancaster is looking for acquisitions in ethical

healthcare and hi-tech, particularly information technology, where

Lancaster concedes the agency is not strong. It recently reabsorbed

Sandpiper, which it launched four years ago, back into the agency as

Biss Lancaster Health and Wellbeing Practice Group.

Lancaster is bullish about the prospects for the agency this year. ’CEOs

and marketing directors have never understood the real and genuine role

of PR better, and we’re seeing realistic and sensible budgeting now. If

we can make sure we keep the quality up, the prospects for the sector

are excellent.’

(11) EDELMAN PR WORLDWIDE (pounds 9,000,705) - Faller

Edelman dropped out of the top 10 this year back to number 11 with

reported fee income growth of one per cent. The agency had difficulty

establishing an international financial practice during 1999. Kirsty

MacMaster joined in November 1998 from her own agency as head of

European PR, but left in February 1999, saying there were insufficient

resources to build a serious financial practice. The communications

sector has benefited as a whole from internet fever, however, and

Edelman also picked up clients in this sector, including ISPs

Worldonline and Breathe.

Existing client Ericsson went from strength to strength in 1999,

increasing its work with the agency’s youth group in particular. Edelman

also attracted some new big-name clients, including Boots,

Pillsbury-owned-brands Haagen-Dazs, Old El Paso, and Green Giant, plus

Dow Jones Reuters Business Interactive (now rebranded Factiva), an

internet-based research and news resource offering.

Throughout the year, the agency strengthened its leadership and injected

some new blood. In April, Tari Hibbitt was promoted to CEO, while John

Mahony moved from heading the Edelman PR Worldwide office in Dublin to

become UK managing director.

Curtis Fox joined as head of investor relations from Brussels agency

Kuhn Partners, where he was a partner, and Stuart Smith joined as head

of corporate communications from the Audit Commission where he was head

of communications. And in February this year Nigel Breakwell joined the

London office to head Edelman’s newly-launched European medical

education division, known as BioScience Europe.

Client losses included Bank Austria and a cutback in business from BAR,

the British American Tobacco F1 racing team. However, Hibbitt was

stoical: ’Even though we had budget setbacks, we still grew


The focus for 2000 is to keep building on the agency’s products, such as

e-publicity, the BioScience division and its crisis management work.

In February UK chairman Nigel Whittaker acted as special adviser to the

new CEO of the Millennium Dome Pierre-Yves Gerbeau and Mahony was

seconded to the millennium site.

(12) KETCHUM (pounds 8,806,480) - Faller

With a fee income drop of eight per cent and a slide down the table out

of the top ten, at first glance Ketchum’s 1999 appears to be a tale of

doom and gloom. Not so, according to UK CEO James Maxwell. ’The first

half of 1999 was very tough,’ he admits, ’but the second half was very


The agency kicked off the year with some setbacks that were not directly

of its making. In September 1998, Life PR, formerly Lynne Franks PR, was

formally merged into Ketchum with its business, in Maxwell’s words, ’a

bit of a mess’. ’The people were grossly overworked and clients

underserviced,’ he says. ’Long-standing clients were on the point of

leaving, so income billed through Life, for 1998, was quite frothy and

over-inflated.’ At the outset of 1999, this situation was not helped by

fears of recession.

’For the first four or five months, some business-to-business and

corporate clients held their breath to see what would happen with the

economy,’ says Maxwell. In January 1999 Ketchum suffered another

setback. The agency’s healthcare division dropped pounds 1 million of

business from a single client, which was forced to withdraw investment

in a product that had lost its US licence.

So having started 1999 with a drop of pounds 2.5 million in income,

Maxwell is more than pleased that his team replaced 80 per cent of it by

the end of the year. This was achieved through new healthcare clients

including Janssen, Warner Lambert and Novo Nordisk, and increased work

from existing clients such as Carlsberg-Tetley and Procter and Gamble.

The corporate and technology teams also drove growth, attracting new

business from research group AC Nielsen and a campaign to boost

recruitment for the Construction Industry Training Board. ’We have

consolidated and stabilised the business,’ says Maxwell. ’And with good

client retention and team motivation and morale, we’re moving rapidly

upwards.’ With pre-tax profits of 23 per cent for 1999 compared to 17.5

per cent for the previous year, he adds: ’We have also made Ketchum more

profitable on less income.’

This year is already looking buoyant, with work rolling in from

internet start-ups and the likes of and women’s health

site, clickmango.

(13) GRAYLING GROUP (pounds 8,794,100) - Faller

Grayling’s year was a roller coaster ride of acquisitions and takeover

bids. In the spring, the group bought Political Context, further

strengthening the public affairs offering from Westminster Strategy.

This also provided a new lobbying outfit in Cardiff, branded Strategy

Wales, to match the existing Grayling Political Strategy services in

Edinburgh, London and Brussels. However, by July Grayling itself became

the subject of a takeover bid. The Incepta Group, owner of the Citigate

brand, made a hostile offer for the agency’s parent company Lopex. ’You

could say we were on the ropes,’ says Grayling Group chief executive

Nigel Kennedy. ’But actually their offer smoked out the predators, so we

had the opportunity to talk to lots of people.’ The situation was saved

by an agreed bid from Havas Advertising, with a deal to protect the

agency’s individual interests. ’The new parent company made an immediate

commitment to retaining and developing Grayling as a separate brand,’

says Kennedy.

But if the summer provided a few tense weeks for the Grayling

management, in the engine room it was business as usual. The group

attracted some significant new accounts, including food manufacturer Van

den Bergh, Marconi, and the Government’s initiative for lifelong

learning - the University for Life.

In addition, there was healthy growth from existing clients. The agency

handled the opening of Sainsbury’s new ecological store in Greenwich,

promoted Roche’s sponsorship of the Body Zone in the Millennium Dome,

and handled an awareness campaign for Action Against Pneumococcal

Infection, an initiative to protect those most at risk of developing


To kick off 2000, Grayling announced a new structure, pulling all its

companies into a closer working relationship to enhance the group’s

ability to offer clients an integrated international PR and public

affairs service.

As a result, Kennedy says: ’Grayling will be far more aggressive and

acquisitive in its expansion plans than has previously been the


(14) TEXT 100 (pounds 7,524,999) - Faller

In December, IT consultancy Text 100 successfully listed on the London

Stock Exchange. Its share price rocketed from 170p to 310p on the first

day of trading, with a high point of 520p. Associate director Katie King

says: ’The flotation will make it easier for us to recruit staff in what

is a very competitive market. Stock options are a major incentive for

staff to stay within the group. We also recognise the need to mature as

a business, nurture an environment of creativity and focus on giving our

clients the service they expect.’ The flotation was the second major

event of the year. In the summer, Text 100 spun off August.One

Communications into an 80-strong PR consultancy. Its services include

media relations, an analyst bureau, a government affairs division, an

editorial bureau and a broadcast bureau.

Wins for Text 100 included Virgin Biznet,,,

Art Technology Group and Caldera. At the same time, business from

existing clients including Telewest Communications, and Sun

Microsystems grew. King says Text 100’s work has extended to promoting

best practice among PR professionals through initiatives such as

IPRTech, a quarterly forum to educate PROs in technological

developments, as well as running a training and development programme

for staff.

During the year, Glen Goldsmith, former associate director, was

appointed Text 100’s UK managing director with a brief to create a

’leaner, more dynamic and faster moving consultancy’. August.One has

also made a concerted effort to hire new senior blood, especially from

outside the technology sector. In March this year, Judy Osborn, formerly

head of public relations at the Institute of Directors, joined the

agency as a senior consultant.

John Fraser also joined as head of public affairs, having previously

worked with a number of government relations specialists, including APCO

in the UK and Washington.

As for the future, August.One head Tariq Khwaja says: ’We will

consolidate our move to handle campaigns beyond the technology sector,

win some major brand name clients and increase our international

presence. Essentially, we will focus on delivering our external mission

to work with progressive companies, and on our internal mission of

unleashing the full potential of our staff.’

(15) COLLEGE HILL ASSOCIATES (pounds 7,456,710) - Climber

College Hill chief executive Alex Sandberg describes 1999 as a

’fantastic, cracking’ year as fee income stormed ahead by 32 per cent.

’There was a quite substantial increase in the retainer base as work

which started as a project developed into retainers,’ says Sandberg.

This included South African financial services firm Old Mutual, for

which College Hill handled demutualisation and a FTSE listing, and


Like many other agencies, College Hill also benefited from the internet

explosion. ’We have always been quite busy in hi-tech and have been

building in that area when others were waiting and thinking. Around 40

per cent of our current client base is internet, telecoms and hi-tech

related,’ says Sandberg.

New clients in this area included Californian venture capital company

Amerindo, incubator fund Nanouniverse, business-to-business portal and

IT network InterX, on-line business-to-business community just2clicks,

Magic Moments Internet, and Sports Internet. ’The internet has altered

the whole way the company does business. Everyone in the agency is now

doing internet-related business,’ says Sandberg.

Of existing clients, there was increasing work from Waterford Wedgwood,

Independent Energy and European broadcasting company Audiofina. Losses

included Zurich Personal Insurance, which replaced College Hill with

Citigate early this year. Lloyd’s of London hired the agency as its

financial and corporate agency, while another new client was Manpower.

College Hill also handled the FTSE listing for South African


The only senior appointment was Richard Bowler, who joined as director

in investor relations from Guardian Royal Exchange where he was IR


(16) FISHBURN HEDGES (pounds 6,768,242) - Climber

Fishburn Hedges, pinpointed in last year’s Top 150 as one to watch saw

its fee income shoot up by 35 per cent. ’It was a great year for new

business. It started off well and kept going throughout the year,’ says

chief executive, Neil Hedges. The agency had a particularly good run of

Government work, picking up briefs from the DETR to handle an

environmental conservation campaign, and from the Environment Agency to

promote the Flood Awareness Programme.

Fishburn Hedges also picked up its fair share of new media business,

securing internet bank first-e, and internet-based financial services

learning scheme, Wide Learning.

’We have always tried to have a broad base of clients, and not to focus

on one or two sectors,’ says Hedges. He adds that the financial services

area remained buoyant, particularly insurance and banking. Public

affairs also held up strongly, with substantial work from J


On the deficit side the agency lost the account from Scottish Value

Management, and also took the decision to resign its account with KPMG

because of its increasing workload from competitor

PricewaterhouseCoopers, which included work for the Management

Consultant Services and Business Recovery Services divisions.

On the awards front Fishburn Hedges had a successful year, winning the

public affairs prize at the IPR Awards for its work for the Pre-school

Learning Alliance, and the best new media campaign in the PR Week Awards

for its work for Shell.

Fishburn Hedges founding directors Dale Fishburn and Andrew Boys retired

at the end of 1999, and a new management structure was put in place.

John Williams, formerly MD, took over from Fishburn as chairman, and

senior board director Ron Finlay became deputy chairman. Marc Moninski

and Philippa Dale-Thomas were promoted to joint MDs. Two new directors,

Elizabeth Ballard and Andrew Marshall, joined from Hill and


(17) FREUD COMMUNICATIONS (pounds 6,690,109) - Faller

Half of Freud’s 12 per cent growth in fee income came from existing

clients and half from new business, according to director Oliver


A contributing factor to the agency’s growth was the appointment of

Claire Formon as marketing director from Grey Advertising.The agency won

high-impact consumer PR campaigns from Impulse, BHS, Persil Washing Up

Liquid, Halifax, Disney Consumer Products, Thomas Cook offshoot JMC, and


On the media and entertainment front there was a host of new work,

including SMTV Live, CDUK, Blackadder Back and Forth, Bridget Jones

Beyond the Edge of Reason, and films Notting Hill, Snatch, Dancer and

Sexy Beast. New corporate work included a European brief from Tricon

Restaurants International, owner of KFC and Pizza Hut. Freud resigned

its consumer account with KFC as the restaurant considered a new

strategy, but retained its corporate business.

In June a new media division was set up, with wins including wedding

services company Confetti, lingerie business Splendour, teen girls club

Wowgo, toy retailer Toyzone, pet services company Petspark, and sports

retailer Kitbag.

At the beginning of 1999, the agency restructured its board, with

Matthew Freud as chairman, Nick Wiszowaty as chief executive and Gaby

Zein as MD. Rebecca Hirst, Oliver Wheeler, Paul Melody and Patrick

Keegan were made directors, and Andrew Nightingale finance director. One

of the new board directors, Jerry Peck, left in the summer to join a

promotions agency.

During the year Freud himself was the subject of a great deal of media


(18) COHN AND WOLFE (pounds 6,309,253) - Faller

’It really was a great year. We put on nearly pounds 1 million in

additional income, and none of the growth was through acquisition,’ says

MD, Martin Ellis, as fee income at the agency rose 17 per cent. Cohn and

Wolfe also had the satisfaction of scoring the highest marks in the PR

Week Agency Report, and of picking up a dozen industry awards. Accounts

were won from Huggies for a campaign aimed at consumers and healthcare

professionals; ICI Acrylics for an internal and external communications

campaign; e-tailer; and GEC, to publicise its sponsorship of

the Millennium Dome.

A separate brand, Cohn and Wolfe Interactive, was created to handle the phenomenon. The agency now has around a dozen clients in the

internet sector, including Topjobs and Skillvest. One of the biggest

factors in the agency’s success was growth from existing clients. It

repitched for, and retained, one of its longest-standing and largest

accounts, Visa.

Australian property company Lendlease gave it more work, including the

launch of the Bluewater shopping centre. Budget airline Go dramatically

increased its spend as new routes were launched, and income from

Deloitte Consulting also grew. The only significant client loss, says

Ellis, was the Energy Savings Trust, the Government initiative

encouraging people to save energy.

Commenting on the agency’s strategy, Ellis says: ’We don’t want any one

sector to run away. The three major divisions - healthcare, corporate,

and consumer - each account for approximately one-third of billings.’

Ellis took over as MD in January 1999 as previous incumbent Martin

Thomas left to join fellow Young and Rubicam company, The Media Edge. In

March existing staff members Victoria Dix and Hugh Davies were promoted

to join the board. Jen Cohan also joined as a director from Cohn and

Wolfe New York, where she was a senior consultant.

The prospects for 2000 are excellent, says Ellis. ’The problem now is

simply one of staff. You could almost envisage a complete role reversal

this year where it is agencies who are choosing clients. Over the last

year PR as a marketing discipline has fought its way to the top. We’re

now seeing the venture capital companies funding dot.coms insisting they

appoint a PR agency first, which is a complete change.’

(19) KEY COMMUNICATIONS (pounds 6,111,000) - No change

The main driver of healthy growth in fee income of 24 per cent in 1999

was a flurry of acquisitions. In January, the agency bought

business-to-business and consumer specialist Infopress, and in June

added some technology weight by acquiring Sheldon Communic-ations. The

Infopress deal gave Key’s London office a new managing director, David

Watson, which freed former London boss Mark Triggs to return to his

preferred turf and head the agency’s Birmingham operation. A culture

change division also arrived via Infopress, which has attracted clients

such as Johnson and Johnson, which hired the agency to handle the

internal communications for its purchase of a new orthopaedic unit.

With a particular skill in logistics and automotive, Key also

experienced substantial organic growth in 1999, gaining new clients such

as Conoco Jet service stations, P&O Trans European, and Cargolux,

Europe’s biggest cargo aircarrier. In addition, existing clients

including Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, Kraft Jacobs Suchard, law firm

Eversheds and rail operator Chiltern Railways put plenty of work Key’s

way. But the past two years have also seen Key shake up the way it does

business, implementing a strategic change process throughout the agency.

’We’re aiming to get broader, more arcane skills into the business,’

says Watson. ’We don’t want to be old-fashioned, we want to solve

business communication problems.’ Last summer, this strategic outlook

brought some practical changes, such as the closure of the firm’s office

in Thame, Oxfordshire.

(20) THE SHIRE HALL GROUP (pounds 5,903,000) - Climber

After a fairly static performance in 1998, healthcare specialist The

Shire Hall Group has bounced back with a strong fee income rise of 38

per cent. Group chief executive Margot James identifies several factors

that have brought this turnaround, including strengthened services. Last

year, the group brought its media training for clients and relevant

third parties in-house, and like many other agencies invested in

delivering new media capabilities. ’We have transformed what used to be

just web site management into creating virtual communications on the web

- including netcasting from major conferences - and there is no doubt

that this has really helped us win new business,’ says James.

Other organic growth came from Smithkline Beecham, which increased its

vaccine work with the agency. In addition, the radical return to form of

medical education arm, 4D Communic-ations, based in Oxford, invigorated

the group’s performance. After a disappointing 1998, 4D grew its

business by 93 per cent to push fee income up to pounds 1.2 million last


In August, after 13 years as an independent, Shire Hall CEO Margot James

and chairman Patrick Benson decided the time was right to sell the


In a deal reportedly worth pounds 10 million, Shire Hall tied the knot

with WPP to aid international expansion and roll with the changes in the

pharmaceutical industry.’We wanted to maximise the benefits of being

part of WPP to grow our international work with a strong US programme,’

says James.

(21) BEATTIE MEDIA (pounds 5,900,000) - Climber

After a year in which Beattie Media gained a higher media profile than

many of its clients, it seems remarkable that the agency has walked away

from 1999 with such stunning results. With fee income up by 43 per cent,

the agency moves up by five places. Last August Beattie hit the

headlines, following claims in the Observer that some of its employees

had improper access to Scottish ministers. In the fall-out, the agency

closed its public affairs arm, and its chief executive Gordon Beattie

and two consultants, Alex Barr and and Kevin Reid, son of Scottish

Secretary John Reid, were asked to give evidence to the Scottish

Parliament’s standards committee. ’Lobbygate caused a lot of pain,’

admits Beattie. ’The mistake I made was to get into a business I knew

little about.’ He says two clients who were due to come on board changed

their minds, but Beattie says the withdrawal from lobbying made only a

small dent in the firm’s finances.

There were also plenty of brighter moments. In common with many other

agency bosses Beattie says: ’The key element last year was launching a

new media division that was successful beyond my wildest dreams.’ In the

latter half of 1999, the venture, headed by Amanda Groty, attracted new

clients including personal finance TV service, The Money Channel and a

hefty amount of work from Hewlett-Packard.With its base in Glasgow and

thriving businesses in London and Leeds, 1999 also saw Beattie welcome

new clients such as Arthur Andersen and West of Scotland Water - where

three Beattie staff are currently seconded. In addition, the agency

picked up financial work from packaging specialist the MacFarlen Group,

and Dawson International, the world’s leading cashmere producer.

We will have to wait until next year’s league table to see the true

impact of ’lobbygate’ and the recent shake-up in personnel. Already this

year, Beattie has lost its London chief David Rydell, plus three senior

consultants, including Barr. Ann-Marie Wilkinson has been recruited to

the top spot in London and in February, Beattie strengthened its new

media division by appointing former Music Week managing editor Tracy


(22) FIREFLY (pounds 5,652,082) - Climber

Firefly had another excellent year, with fee income growth of over 33

per cent. In the current climate, it seems foolish to ask why a

technology specialist should enjoy such healthy results. But with the

competition in the hi-tech communications arena hotting up, there are no


Firefly managing director Claire Walker does attribute her agency’s

success to the huge impact of new media: ’ fever has made

technology PR very funky, and if ever there was an explosion, this is

it.’ But she adds a caveat: ’We’ve also been quite ruthless, narrowing

our proposition and ruling out big-name clients if they are not involved

in the digital economy.’ In September, Firefly invested in a

reorganisation and rebranding programme to position itself as an e-PR

agency. This involved recruiting around 14 new people and putting every

member of staff through digital media orientation training. ’It’s about

practising what we preach,’ says Walker, ’We eat, breath and live the

digital economy.’

The agency has launched a password-protected extranet service to give

clients access to billing information. In addition it is rolling out a

programme of digital photo libraries for all its clients as an extension

of its internet press centre. ’The pace of change is breathless, so our

plan is to constantly improve our on-line activity and services for

clients, and put a lot of energy into using the internet for sensible

communications,’ says Walker. With the crossover of technology into the

lifestyle arena, Firefly is far from being a bunch of anoraks. One of

its major clients, Motorola, is heavily involved in the WAP development.

’Mobile phones are very consumer-oriented, so the people working here

have got to be very much all-rounders,’ says Walker.

The focus of the agency remains its people. Last year, Firefly launched

a ’wellbeing’ programme, offering staff alternative ways of staying

healthy and managing stress. In addition, this month the agency set up a

share ownership plan for everyone in the company. ’You’ve got to look

after your people, as they are your business,’ says Walker.

(23) HARRISON COWLEY (pounds 5,402,112) - Faller

With an 11 per cent fee income rise for 1999, Harrison Cowley’s network

of nine offices around the UK has had a year of steady growth.

Since the manage-ment buy out from Saatchi and Saatchi in 1994, fee

income has more than doubled. Chief executive David Heal is quick to

stress that this has been an organic process, rather than the fruits of


He predicts that performance will improve significantly over the next 12

months, largely through an increase in e-commerce clients.

In 1999, the millennium bug was high on the agenda, with a Y2K project

for French IT consulting and outsourcing client Cap Gemini, and the

agency’s network providing regional support to the Government’s Action

2000 taskforce.

Throughout the year, good relations were maintained with Marks and

Spencer, The National Lottery, BUPA and the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

In addition the agency supported Glenfiddich’s sponsorship of the Spirit

of Scotland Awards.

Harrison Cowley also devoted energy to improving its service for clients

and maximising the potential of its people. Last year, three members of

the Bristol office were sponsored through the new IPR Diploma, and last

month the agency restructured its leadership to provide a stronger

client focus and attract high-calibre staff.

This management shake-up sees associate director Alan Twigg promoted to

the board and made head of a new agency-wide consumer division.

Meanwhile, Paul Kelly has moved from managing three regional offices to

lead the reorganised business-to-business team.

Heal says: ’Growth is important and we recognise that, but we are

spending more time thinking about profitability and the quality of work

we do for our clients.’

(24) BRODEUR WORLDWIDE (pounds 5,225,370) - Faller

It was a strong year for IT specialist Brodeur Worldwide, formerly known

as Brodeur A Plus. Fee income was up 21 per cent on the back of a slew

of new wins. In July, the agency was appointed by voice messaging

technology company Converse Network Systems. In May, it won the global

business-to-business account for smart card developer Mondex

International, while this year, it has secured the brief to launch

German e-commerce software firm Netlife in the UK.

Other wins included Metromedia Fiber Network, MCI Worldcom, Gemplus,

Origin, and Internet World. Losses were minimal, although in May,

Brodeur Worldwide parted company with German computer software company

Neuron Data.

Managing director Stan Woods says: ’Over the past 12 months we have

focused on the digital economy, which has accounted for much of our

success. We have tried to move up the value chain offering a

consulting-led service.

Morale is high in the company, which has allowed us to attract and

retain the best people, and there has been a flood of interactive design

business to complement our established PR operations.’

Woods says the past 12 months has seen a steady focus on staff

development and training. Newcomers to the agency included Andrea

Burton, a former senior manager at Kaizo, and Ellen Ferrara, a former

European corporate communications director at EDS. Both were appointed

as associate directors, and Ferrara will help establish an internal

communications practice.

On a strategic level, Brodeur Worldwide’s international network, which

the agency has been building up over the last four years, bore


’We now have six Brodeur-branded offices in Europe, two in the Pacific

rim and nine in the US. The UK is seen as the European hub for our

business and we began to win some really significant international

business,’ says Woods.

He anticipates the agency will see future growth on the back of an

increasing number of well-funded clients. He promises the next

12 months will see a repositioning of Brodeur Worldwide’s design

business, more international work, better margins, a higher quality of

work and an accelerated exchange of staff around the network.

(25) OGILVY PR WORLDWIDE (pounds 4,880,000) - Climber

This time last year, PR Week highlighted Ogilvy PR Worldwide as one to

watch and, if 1999’s results are anything to go by, this has proved to

be something of a hot tip. Last year UK managing director Donna Zurcher

predicted growth of around 30 to 40 per cent. However,1999 actually rose

by 115 per cent - partly as a result of two acquisitions.

Since joining the agency last February, Zurcher has built on Ogilvy’s

buoyant return to form in 1998. This has been achieved by bringing in

top talent across the board. ’It’s been about getting the right people

in and getting the Ogilvy name out there,’ she says. Last April, Nicola

Hyde, co-founder of former Sundial Communications, brought her consumer

marketing expertise to the agency. This attracted clients such as Argos,

which appointed Ogilvy in June to promote the launch of its home

shopping service, Argos Direct. Earlier this year Nick May, who was

director of healthcare was made president of European operations.

Last year also saw Ogilvy PR Worldwide embark on a UK shopping spree to

extend US practice models across Europe. In October, the global group

bought financial and corporate specialist, Sector PR, welcoming clients

such as Barclays, Legal and General and management consultant Boston

Consulting Group into the agency’s fold. This strengthened Ogilvy’s

European corporate practice, with former Sector managing director Julian

Goldsmith taking the helm. In November, this was followed by the

acquisition of specialist healthcare agency Magellan Medical

Communications. This move added 12 staff to Ogilvy’s UK healthcare

division and introduced clients including Smith and Nephew.

’Healthcare is an enormous practice in the States and we didn’t have it

here, so Magellan managing director Tom Delaney came in with the

expertise we needed,’ explains Zurcher. This healthcare offer has been

further strengthened with other new blood, including Miriam Ryan and

David Avitabile who joined at director level.

Looking at what lies ahead for the next 12 months Zurcher says: ’I know

that our technology division will be strong this year and our

work will grow, but we are being extremely cautious and aiming for the

leader in each sector.’ However, Zurcher is also prepared to stick her

neck out: ’My objective is to get into the top 20 for 2001,’ she says.

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