Good Relations will set up shop stateside at the same New York base as its parent company VCCP Group, which employs 70 people through its offices in the city and San Francisco.
Good Relations already serves several global clients, such as Celebrity Cruises, that have US communications needs, and establishing a permanent presence in New York is primarily driven by growing client demand.
The US business will be led by Liam Maguire, an executive director who becomes executive vice-president of the US operation.
Maguire has worked within the VCCP Group for five years, most recently leading Newsfeed PR and its specialist broadcast PR agency, Good Broadcast.
He is a former soldier and journalist who has worked closely with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in recent years on several of their charitable initiatives, including the Invictus Games, Sentebale and the HALO Trust.
Maguire, who is due to move to New York in the coming weeks, told PRWeek Good Relations’ expansion there was motivated by several factors.
Primarily, there is the client demand, but it is also attractive due to the presence of VCCP Group, which increasingly works with Good Relations on integrated client briefs.
“I’ve been working on some of our US clients for over a year,” Maguire said. “At Good Relations we take the approach where we integrate planning as it relates to all disciplines in a communications programme. In the US, public relations has traditionally been very media relations and social media-focused; what we will bring is a closer integration with advertising, creative and planning.”
He said another reason to set up an office in the US, rather than the EU, was due to the “uncertainty” and “political instability” due to Brexit.
“This is a difficult time in America as they transition to the Biden administration, and I wouldn't say that there aren't any uncertainties there, but we feel more confident being in North America rather than Europe, especially as VCCP Group already has an established North American operation,” he explained.
Building a 'US agency'
Good Relations will focus on domestic clients in the US – a different strategy to the plans of W Communications, which this week also officially launched in the US.
“We want to really build our presence in the US as a US agency, so that means working for domestic clients in that market,” Maguire said. “That being said, we obviously see enormous opportunity for UK- or European-based brands that we represent that might have aspirations to grow in the US.”
Maguire will work closely with VCCP New York managing director Georgia Mahaffie and chief strategy officer Jonny Shaw to “build a team to meet the demands of the agency’s growing global client portfolio”.
VCCP Group founding partner and chief executive Adrian Coleman said: “The integration of planners and creatives working hand-in-hand with publicists and content creators has given us the edge over our competition in the past year, and been instrumental in driving growth for the business.
“Establishing the Good Relations brand alongside VCCP in New York is the next step in our response to a market which is increasingly looking for an integrated, challenger offering.”
Good Relations chief executive Richard Moss described the move to the US as “the opportunity that is greatest for us, right now”, with a desire to “offer the best possible suite of support to our global clients”.