The networks, in common with anyone working in European PR, had a
cracking year last year on the back of the hi-tech and technology
Despite significant dips in fee income for a number of players in 2000,
the networks are optimistic.
Some have restructured, many are doing more strategic work rather than
pan-European media relations campaigns, they are embracing technology to
service clients better, and feel they are being taken increasingly
seriously as competitors for the global branded groups.
Euro PR managing director Richard Price says the main problems in Europe
are a knock-on effect of the slowdown in the US, rather than being about
the health of the European PR industry: 'There has certainly been a
downturn in the IT sector in the US and people there are being more
cautious. The impact on Europe is that pan-European programmes are being
cut back to two or three priority countries rather than six, as budgets
are under pressure. But this is counterbalanced by strong IT work in
Europe, and other sectors such as healthcare, B2B, and corporate
At technology network Brodeur Worldwide, board director Mike Copland
says the climate has got tougher, but that this is essential to the
networks' continued development: 'Across Europe the clients are still
out there but decisions are taking longer and that's creating
uncertainty. It concentrates the mind to focus on delivery and value for
money for clients. We are being much tighter in the way we work across
Europe, and being more flexible and resourceful. There's a renewed sense
of purpose and good signs in the market.'
Jill Coomber, CEO of Grant Butler Coomber's Embrace network, highlights
another effect of a less exuberant market: 'People are more focused on
their own business now and making sure they are insulated from any
shockwaves. We are still getting work in the network, but members are
more introspective and it falls to us to keep inspiring people to think
on an international level.'
A number of the networks have had structural changes during the past
year, including GPC Europe, which was bought by sister Omnicom
organisation Fleishman-Hillard in February this year. It is keeping its
brand name, and as well as giving F-H a public affairs foothold in
Brussels, the deal is benefiting GPC, says group finance director Sue
'Now we have a wholly-owned presence in Berlin, and with F-H in
Frankfurt and Herald in Milan, we've got Germany well covered. The
merger has also given us access to central and eastern Europe, where we
are building our public affairs capability at a very busy time for the
region,' she says.
Brodeur Worldwide strengthened its European team at the start of this
year. Rinze Terluin was promoted to managing director for the EMEA
region from his previous role as a director of Brodeur Amsterdam. He
replaces Copland, who led the network's EMEA operations for six years.
Copland is concentrating on his position as Brodeur UK chief executive,
but remains on the global board.
Inter PR decided it would not participate in the rankings this year.
Fireworks, last year's number five network, has also not entered its
figures; it has just completed a substantial shake-up, as David
Hargreaves, director in charge of European expansion at Fireworks'
leading agency Firefly, explains: 'We have reviewed Fireworks' global
reach and divided the members into two types: partners and affiliates.
We have partners in Italy, Spain, Germany, Holland and Sweden, which are
the main markets.
We have tighter working agreements with those companies and give them
access to our technical infrastructure to share information across
It gives us a seamless story for US clients who want Europe sorted.'
Affiliate members are other agencies in the network where there has not
been such as close working relationship. 'It's like a second tier,
because we need the geographical reach,' he adds.
Fireworks' partners have full access to the intranet that Firefly
developed to help service clients and carry out business between offices
'We have invested a lot in extranet platforms. Technology can't replace
doing the work but enables the network to be more seamless, and a client
can go onto the European extranet and get reports and programme
information,' says Hargreaves.
GBC's Embrace network is on the lookout for other partners to broaden
its offering, including consumer-orientated agencies in technology and
non-technology markets, and a PA partner.
It has also built an extranet: 'What a pan-European client wants to pay
for in strategy and consultancy often ends up on admin and tactics. The
extranet removes that whole issue and gives clients better value for
Networks are still looking at using more sophisticated technology. Ken
Deeks, managing director of Kaizo, a long-standing member of 27-member
network Worldcom, says an intranet is on its way but adds: 'Most
networks work best with personal contact because of different cultures.
Some member countries are more advanced than others, and an intranet
would have to work right across the organisation. We can't compromise on
At Euro PR, Price says another technological trend is the use of the
internet for business leads: 'The web has made a significant difference
to us as an independent European network, because enquiries from the US
are now coming through the website. Five accounts in the past year have
originated directly from the web, and the number of enquiries has gone
The type of work networks are being asked to do continues to shift from
pure media relations to more varied, and strategic, campaigns.
Price says cross-border PR for the networks is still heavily media
relations, and the ability to get a message in different languages and
markets - 'if you can't do that, you won't get the job' - but says it is
now involving more programmes aimed at decision-makers and analysts.
Deeks adds that new audiences mean more emphasis on quality: 'More
clients are looking for strategic support for different audiences such
as government bodies, and so clients are looking for quality processes.'
Worldcom has a set of key indicators of quality performance for all
members: business planning, financial systems campaign evaluation,
client satisfaction, service delivery, operations consistency, and
training and development.
One of the bugbears for the networks is competing with the owned groups,
but the feeling is that this increasing emphasis on quality, combined
with flexibility, is closing the gap.
Coomber says networks are still a little behind the big branded groups
in terms of perception of what they can do: 'Realistically it's going to
be another three years or so before the likes of an IBM puts a network
on the final list, but in the meantime there are lots of medium-sized
businesses out there. In a way we have an easier job than the groups
because we don't need to force our culture onto people - it's more of a
Price says clients are less concerned about whether their agencies are
owned or affiliated, as long as they can get the job done. Hargreaves
says the advantage of the networks is that many clients want a one-stop
shop 'but at the same time they want best of breed agencies in each
Networks are about being about to pick and choose the best agency in
Deeks adds: 'At one time the owned-groups were more in demand than now,
as clients recognise the need for flexibility in different territories.
Networks have similar types of business in each country which is
individually-owned but with a similar culture and make-up, and clients
get a chance to choose which is best for them.'
The networks may have come down from last year's high, but they've no
intention of stopping the drive towards better quality and
EURO CONSULTANCIES NETWORKS
Rank Company Fee income (pounds) Growth
2000 2000 1999 %
1 Worldcom 37,462,227 36,941,048 1
2 Brodeur Worldwide 20,132,000 15,851,000 27
3 Entente International 20,000,000 23,000,000 -13
4 PROI 19,366,347 17,461,843 11
5 Pinnacle Worldwide 18,445,322 19,867,550 -7
6 ECCO* 17,813,342 11,307,543 58
7 GPC Europe 16,146,645 16,869,352 -4
8 Embrace* 9,912,254 7,558,107 31
9 JKL 8,715,600 9,561,000 -9
10 Euro PR 6,912,089 4,849,054 43
Rank Company Staff Clients Locations
2000 2000 2000
1 Worldcom 602 - London
2 Brodeur Worldwide 374 - Slough
3 Entente International 300 400 Brussels
4 PROI 437 363 Montreal
5 Pinnacle Worldwide 390 516 Minneapolis
6 ECCO* 363 401 London
7 GPC Europe 263 651 London
8 Embrace* 171 165 Surrey
9 JKL 103 - Stockholm
10 Euro PR 106 179 London
All figures relate to the year ended December 2000 Fee income = PR fees
* Different 1999 fee income from 2000 European Consultancies tables has