So, the third consultancy – in alphabetical order – on our shortlist… Headland.
Headland was actually 'founded' twice; initially in 2006 by Chris Salt and Howard Lee, former colleagues at agency Gavin Anderson, which later became part of Kreab. But in 2011, discussions with Dan Mines and Fishburn Hedges co-founder Neil Hedges, who at the time still worked at that agency, initiated a radical rethink.
The original Headland company was dissolved, and a new entity emerged with the same name but a new structure. 'Headland 2' launched in 2013 as a limited liability partnership (LLP), owned initially by four founding partners – Salt, Lee, Mines and Hedges.
Since then the consultancy's growth has been stellar. Revenue rose 55 per cent to £7.1m in 2017, and almost doubled between 2015 and 2017 following major wins including PepsiCo UK, Three UK and Mulberry.
Fee income for 2018 topped £11m – another 56 per cent year-on-year growth – with staff numbers increasing from 40 back in 2016 to 75 today.
But size is not the crucial thing with Headland. It feels like a fresh, new type of city and corporate agency, which has open-plan offices and flexibility for partners and colleagues alike.
It has also embraced integration, taking on consumer campaigns alongside its strategic advisory work, with an increasing amount of public affairs ability, too.
Headland was highly commended in this year's PRWeek Awards Mid-Sized Consultancy category after managing two of 2018's biggest reputational crises – Pret a Manger and TSB – and establishing a gender-equal management team.
Moreover, in the high-pressure world of corporate issues management, previously dominated by Teneo Blue Rubicon, Portland, FTI et al – Headland now feels like the agency to watch.
Who else is on the shortlist?