Golin hires first UK strategy chief to 'completely change the offering'

Former Freuds head of strategy Kat Arnull has joined Golin and Virgo Health in the new role of UK group chief strategy officer.

Golin hires first UK strategy chief to 'completely change the offering'

Golin said Arnull (pictured) will work with the UK leadership to grow the agencies’ practices and offerings. Arnull will lead the strategy team, and key part of her role will be embedding Golin's new planning process, the Playbook, across all client work.

She starts immediately, reporting to group managing director in London, Ondine Whittington, and working with global chief strategy officer Paul Parton. This follows a 12-month period of consultancy at the agency.

Arnull told PRWeek hers is not a "traditional strategic role" but more about "how we can completely change the offering at Golin". There will be a focus on bringing Golin's different elements – including Virgo Health, The Brooklyn Brothers and the international business – together "to really start shaking up the world of PR and marketing as a whole".

Her role will involve identifying opportunities across the business to work on specific briefs – for example, bringing in consumer-focused The Brooklyn Brothers to a corporate brief if it would be a benefit.

"It's less about bashing heads together, because they already collaborate quite seamlessly in lots of accounts, but more about identifying more of those opportunities where we can bring all that amazing expertise together," she said.

The aim is to evolve the data and analytics team into something more like a strategy team, Arnull added. Golin is recruiting for new roles in that operation.

"We will definitely be data-first, data-driven, because it's the only way forward, but bringing into that fold more strategic thinking as well, so it doesn't just stop at: 'Here's what the data is telling us' – it's more about how we interpret that data, how we bring it to our work."

Arnull's appointment strengthens Golin's senior London team following a shake-up in late 2019 and early 2020 when Whittington was named MD after her predecessor Bibi Hilton took a different position at holding company IPG and UK-based co-CEO Jon Hughes departed.

Whittington said: “Kat’s brilliant thinking and depth of experience has already had such a positive impact on our client work and new business. Now, more than ever, we have the opportunity to drive forward the role of PR as a strategic and sophisticated partner to our clients to raise awareness of issues, drive new conversations and shift landscapes. We know there will continue to be a laser-sharp focus on budgets and Kat’s eye will be keenly focused on how we use our planning tools to deliver outstanding creative campaigns that can be measured against hard commercial results."

Arnull was a planner at Golin sister agency Weber Shandwick before joining Freuds in 2007, where she rose to head of strategy during her 12 years with the firm.

She worked on the launch of government behaviour-change campaigns Change4Life and Stoptober and led the agency PR strategy for Asda and Sainsbury’s, as well as working with FMCG multinationals PepsiCo and Mars.

Arnull is part of the Government Strategic and Evaluation Council and a mentor on the NABS Fast Forward training scheme.

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