The Whiteoaks Consultancy Limited

James Kelliher
James Kelliher

The Whiteoaks Consultancy Limited

24 West Street




Longest-held clients

Autodesk, Grass Valley & Honeywell

New business contact

Gill Craig, chairman,, 01252 727313




James Kelliher, managing director

01252 727313

Describe your agency in five words.

360 PR – The Complete Perspective

How would you sum up 2011 at your agency?

Following significant growth in 2009 and 2010 – and despite the challenging economic head winds – it was another year of major milestones for Whiteoaks.  In the previous 12-month period (2010), we broke the £3 million fee barrier for the first time.  In 2011 fees exceeded £4 million (a 27.3% increase) and accordingly we now have more than 40 talented PR professionals in our team.   Such achievements are testament to the talent, energy and dedication of our people.  We continue to retain and grow existing clients, by demonstrating ever increasing returns on PR investment, while our unique and provocative 360 PR approach attracts and converts major new clients.

What was your agency’s high point of 2011?

The development and launch of our new proposition: 360 PR.  It’s become clear that the world is changing - and the way people and organisations engage and communicate is changing.  This in turn increases the expectations of what PR, in its true sense, can and should achieve for organisations.  We now have a broader set of tools at our disposal, in terms of communications channels and content, and the opportunity to demonstrate that PR can understand, support and be held accountable for achieving specific business outcomes.   These are the core principles underpinning 360 PR.  It is deliberately bold and challenges established assumptions of PR’s role and value.

What was the low point?

With growth comes the continuing need to find good people.  While this is a vital element of our on-going success, the process of identifying and recruiting quality PR professionals - who meet our high standards and expectations - is a time consuming and often expensive exercise.  I am definitely going to be a recruitment consultant in my next life!!!

Please give an overview of your staffing through 2011, including significant hires and internal promotions.

We have increased our staff numbers by more than 33% in the past two years and will continue to recruit in the next 12 months.  In 2011, four new account directors and three new account managers joined our team, all from competitive agencies.  We also promoted a number of existing staff into new roles and, for the first time, we now have a Head of Digital on board.

What were your three best campaigns of 2011? (please note order does not denote preference or priority)

  1. For Honeywell Life Safety Systems, Whiteoaks took leading UK healthcare journalists behind the scenes at Birmingham OwnHealth - to showcase how telehealth technology is enabling patients with long-term conditions to improve their quality of life and independence.  A broad range of print, online and broadcast coverage was secured as a result.
  2. For, we linked newsworthy information from its Chatter Workplace Survey (and the broader topic of business collaboration) to the interest generated by the national Small Business Advice Week.  The result was 26 briefings with local, regional and national media outlets.
  3. For the Information Technologists’ Company, the 100th Livery Company of the City of London, Whiteoaks organised its inaugural Enterprise Awards, to recognise some of the most outstanding entrepreneurial achievements in the UK IT industry.  This included high levels of media coverage around the awards and more than 140 attendees at the gala dinner – including journalists from the BBC, Financial Times and Wall Street Journal Europe.

What were your most exciting client wins of 2011?

Every client win is exciting and we never underestimate the trust invested in us when an organisation selects Whiteoaks – and our responsibility to justify that investment.  Some of our major client wins during the year included Software AG, Europe’s second largest software company; Bull Information Systems, a European leader in mission critical digital systems; and Hyland Software, a leader in enterprise content management.   In addition, for Software AG, we’ve also been appointed as the company’s lead agency in Europe, the Middle East and Africa region.

Of which achievement in 2011 are you most proud?

To maintain such impressive levels of growth, in terms of fees, clients and people – especially given the broader economic challenges – continues to be a source of great pride for everyone associated with Whiteoaks.  However, we remain 100% mindful that our success depends on delivering great service, tangible results and a willingness to continually evolve to meet the ever-changing and increasing requirements of our clients.

What trends did you notice throughout the year in the industry?

While our industry still suffers from many antiquated attitudes, approaches and practices, a very real sense of change is gathering momentum.  Primarily driven by clients’ requirements, PR today has a unique opportunity to make itself more strategic and accountable by broadening the tools and techniques at our disposal.  It’s more than recognising the emergence and importance of social media, it’s identifying that multiple channels can be used to engage with multiple audiences in ways far more targeted and measurable than was historically possible.

Tell us how your digital work became more measurably effective in 2011.

By its very nature, digital communications present a massive opportunity for PR to be more targeted, measurable and accountable.  At the core of our approach is an understanding that in the digital world, communities gather around trusted and relevant content and people. The more a company creates relevant, trustworthy content, the more connected it becomes to its customers and prospects – which can be measured via various analytical tools. Listening to conversations across social networks also delivers direct routes to engagement and drives evidence-based content strategies for our clients.  For the majority of our clients, the ultimate purpose of any communications campaign is to generate sales, and we can now design digital campaigns to achieve tangible sales leads measured against pre-agreed targets.

What’s your priority for the agency this year?

We will actively encourage clients to demand more from us, in terms of both services and the levels of performance and accountability we provide – all key components of our 360 PR proposition.   This will be facilitated by adding more talented people to our team as well as expanding the skill-sets and capabilities of existing staff.  Our aspiration is to permanently change perceptions of the role and value of public relations in the 21st century.

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