THE TOP EUROPEAN PR CONSULTANCIES 2001: Networks - European union The networks are embracing technology to better service their clients - and themselves.

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

more effectively.

'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

up considerably.'

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

that country.'

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



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

been submitted

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