Nationwide hires sole UK PR agency

The UK’s largest building society, Nationwide, has appointed strategic comms consultancy Apella Advisors as its sole PR agency, adding campaigning work to its existing corporate affairs brief.

Nationwide is supporting the anti-racism Respect agenda promoted by the England football team and manager Gareth Southgate
Nationwide is supporting the anti-racism Respect agenda promoted by the England football team and manager Gareth Southgate

To service the enlarged account – which is believed to be worth more than £500,000 annually in fees – Apella Advisors has poached Sam Bevans from Aurora and is close to making further hires.

Apella has taken over Nationwide’s campaigning work from Engine MHP and had already won the building society’s corporate affairs consultancy from Brunswick two years ago.

The new retained brief will include purpose-driven consumer campaigns to highlight Nationwide’s unique status as a large mutual building society competing with the UK’s banks.

As it becomes the sole PR agency for Nationwide, Apella will work with chief product and marketing officer Sara Bennison as well as director of communications Stuart Williamson.

Apella Advisors was set up just over two years ago, with founder partners including former APCO Worldwide managing director James Acheson-Gray, former Bank of England comms chief Jenny Scott and Lloyds’ former corporate affairs boss Matt Young, who now leads the Nationwide account.

Apella specialises in providing senior-level advice to large organisations including Allwyn, Aviva, Danaher, Genesis Motors (Hyundai) and KPMG.

The agency, which now has 14 staff, has hired Bevans as an additional director.

He will join in August from Aurora Healthcare Communications, the specialist healthcare and pharmaceutical agency. He was previously a board director at Firstlight, the corporate comms agency, and an associate director at Blue Rubicon.

Bevans will spend most of his time on the Nationwide account, for which Apella is close to hiring one or two more staff.

Nationwide’s Williamson told PRWeek: “The last 18 months has demonstrated why the mutual model, which puts its members interests rather than profit at its heart, has a powerful role to play in helping the nation to rebuild.

“We’re delighted to extend our partnership with Apella to ensure our strategic campaign work continues to underpin our core purpose of building society, nationwide and show why mutuality provides a real alternative to the big banks.”

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