Portland recently won a major contract with the government of Qatar, though it declined to comment on whether McClory would be involved in it.
It has also worked for other governments such as Kazakhstan, Jordan, Morocco, Rwanda, the States of Jersey and Guernsey, and the city promotion group Business Birmingham.
The agency did say that McClory has played a key role in its work on brand building for clients in the Middle East and Europe as a consultant over the past two years. He has particular expertise in soft power – a persuasive approach to international relations.
McClory joins from Legatus Novus, a bespoke consultancy for governments, non-governmental organisations and private sector companies, which he founded in June 2013. Before this he set up a place branding, policy and soft power strategy practice at Winkreative, with clients including the Greater London Authority and the International Trade Centre.
While at the Institute for Government McClory developed the Soft Power Index, which is used as a benchmark by foreign ministries across the globe. He has experience working on global campaigns, Thailand being the largest.
McClory said: "The international reputation – or brand – of a country, region, or city has never been more crucial to success in the global economy. Soft power provides the ideal framework for helping governments understand and improve their global reputation. Portland is an industry leader in strategic communications and no other firm will be able to match Portland’s comprehensive, end-to-end service of building a stronger international brand for places and governments."
Portland’s managing director Tim Allan added: "Portland has a wealth of experience supporting countries and cities with their communications. Our expertise in government communications is unrivalled, both in global reputation management and capability-building.
"Developing a world-class Place Branding practice is a natural evolution, and there is nobody better qualified than Jonathan McClory to lead it. He is a real expert in the field, with a deep understanding of the issues that drive perceptions of country brands. We are delighted to have him join our rapidly-growing team."