Exclusive: BCW London unites corporate and public affairs practices

BCW has merged its London corporate and public affairs practices and named Nick Williams group managing director of the new division along with a raft of senior promotions, PRWeek can exclusively reveal.

(L-R) Nick Williams and Leila Ager: promoted to lead BCW's merged corporate and public affairs practice
(L-R) Nick Williams and Leila Ager: promoted to lead BCW's merged corporate and public affairs practice

The Corporate and Public Affairs (CPA) practice will bring the agency’s existing corporate, issues and public affairs teams together, led by Nick Williams and Leila Ager, who BCW has promoted to deputy managing director.

The CPA team will have specialisms in corporate reputation, media relations, public affairs, international affairs, crisis comms and business transformation.

New leadership

Williams has worked in political and strategic comms for nearly 30 years and was part of the team that won BCW’s first Cannes Lions Grand Prix for the UN People’s Seat with Sir David Attenborough at COP24.

Williams was an advisor to Labour in the run-up to the party’s landslide victory in 1997 and has held several senior agency roles, including head of public affairs and corporate comms at FleishmanHillard and managing director of issues and public affairs at BCW.

Commenting on the creation of the practice, he said: “Our CPA team will be a driving force at a time when clients need to be able to look at not just what is happening now but plan ahead of the curve as to what will be next. The team provides access to all of our skills and expertise, creating a seamless experience for all our clients.”

Ager has worked in corporate and crisis comms roles for more than 20 years at agencies including Ketchum, Cohn & Wolfe, Weber Shandwick and Freuds.

She joined BCW nearly five years ago as a senior director in its corporate affairs practice.

Ager said: “Creating one team of the UK’s brightest and most creative consultants makes total sense as we continue to focus on more thorny and complex communications challenges.”

Promotions and departures

Clockwise, from top left: Carolyn Irwin, Lara Cornwall, Beth Laffin and Kate Rippon
Clockwise, from top left: Carolyn Irwin, Lara Cornwall, Beth Laffin and Kate Rippon

Heads of the specialisms within the practice will be responsible for growth and innovation.

BCW said it had promoted Carolyn Irwin to head of responsible business, Lara Cornwall to head of corporate reputation, Beth Laffin to head of international affairs, and Kate Rippon to head of leadership communications.

They will join Charlie Howard, head of crisis, and James Morley, head of business transformation.

The agency said that Will Spratt, who previously led the London corporate team, will leave later this summer.

Changing client demand

BCW said the rationale for the CPA was a response to client demands in an environment where the “interconnected nature of corporate communications and public affairs” was clear.

The agency said the pandemic had accelerated a trend in which government intervention and policy had become “intertwined” with corporate action and that this necessitated integrated solutions for its clients.

Rebecca Grant, chief executive of BCW UK, said: “CPA has huge growth potential, and I am very excited about the opportunities ahead. The team under Nick Williams and supported by Leila Ager brings some of the industry’s most talented and experienced consultants into a formidable team.”

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