Portland hires Steffan Williams to head new financial comms practice

Steffan Williams, the comms veteran who was most recently CEO at Porta Communications, has joined Portland to head its new financial communications practice.

Steffan Williams: new role for Capital MSL, Finsbury, and Porta veteran
Steffan Williams: new role for Capital MSL, Finsbury, and Porta veteran

The new practice will integrate within the agency’s corporate group, which consists of 75 consultants, Portland said.

MD Mark Flanagan said the aim of is "not to offer a carbon copy of existing financial communications offerings but to provide a fresh and modern approach that is fully integrated into our broad set of existing capabilities".

London-based Portland has primarily focused on corporate comms and public affairs in the past, although it has undertaken some financial PR work for clients. This is the first time the agency has had a dedicated financial PR division.

Flanagan said: "Business transactions are now contested political environments, in which financials alone are no longer enough. Any major deal now needs to tell a positive story about corporate behaviour, livelihoods and UK plc. All this plays to Portland’s strengths in understanding politics and the media."

Porta announced Williams’ departure in April after two years, amid changes at the holding company that included plans to merge Redleaf and Newgate.

Before Porta, Williams was a partner at Finsbury. He also built and ran Capital MSL before selling it to Publicis in 2013. Williams is the current chairman of the PRCA.

Williams said: "When I looked around the market it rapidly became clear that Portland offers a multi-stakeholder approach backed by a collaborative approach and a passion for excellence that marks it out from the competition."

Portland, founded in 2001 by former Tony Blair comms chief and ex-Sky director of communications Tim Allan, generated UK revenue of an estimated £30m in 2017, according to PRWeek’s UK Top 150 Consultancies report. The agency, part of Omnicom, employs around 200 people from its London office.

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