Portland unveils content publishing unit and hires 'digital diplomat'

Portland has broadened its offer with the launch of a content production unit and the hire of 'digital diplomat' Scott Nolan Smith from the British embassy in Washington.

Tim Allan: Organisations must be part of the online conversations about them
Tim Allan: Organisations must be part of the online conversations about them

The company grew its fee income by roughly 70 per cent last year, according to industry sources, and is putting in place a wider suite of services for its new clients.

The content production unit – called Content & Brand - brings together design, web development, video production, data visualisation and writing at Portland for the first time. It will employ 14 people to service recent wins including Heathrow, McDonald’s and the Lebanon Humanitarian Forum.

"Companies and organisations realise they need to be part of the online conversations about them and their issues and to do that they need compelling content. Until now, content was limited to press releases, articles and speeches. Now that needs to seamlessly extend to blog posts, infographics, video, microsites – content in a range of formats that can be shared on social media," said Tim Allan, founder and MD of Portland.

Meanwhile, Portland has hired Nolan Smith to help build its services to international governments including international advocacy, country branding and comms infrastructure consultancy – advising governments on how to put in place effective comms operations. He will work as an associate director in the Washington DC office.

In his previous role Scott directed digital strategy for the UK’s network in the US and supported digital engagement by UK offices across the Americas. He was also responsible for maintaining the embassy’s relationship with online media outlets and key influencers.

"Governments are increasingly competing for inward and outward investment. And many countries have rapidly expanding populations that get their news from social media," said Allan.

"Governments in those countries need to communicate more effectively with their younger populations and the rest of the world, but they lack the tools to do so."

Allan, a former deputy director of comms at 10 Downing Street under Tony Blair, founded Portland in 2001. He recently spoke to PRWeek about why he got into PR, advice for young people in the industry and his highlights at Portland.

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