5 questions for Ruder Finn’s Nick Leonard on his firm’s Mantis acquisition

Ruder Finn bought the U.K. specialist agency this month.

5 questions for Ruder Finn’s Nick Leonard on his firm’s Mantis acquisition

Ruder Finn acquired Mantis, a public sector tech specialist PR agency based in the U.K., this month.

The deal enabled Ruder Finn to obtain Mantis’ 23 clients and 12 staff members, the firms said in a statement. Ruder Finn said the move will also allow it to expand its footprint in the medical and healthcare technology sector because 85% of Mantis clients work with England’s public health system, the National Health Service; private healthcare; and U.K. social care providers.

To gain a better sense of why Ruder Finn acquired Mantis, PRWeek chatted with Nick Leonard, head of Ruder Finn’s U.K. office.

What was the motivation for acquiring Mantis?
A combination of strategy and opportunism. Strategy in that medical technology is a big growth area for us and I don’t think any agency really owns it and few are capable of delivering a consistent combination of clinical or scientific expertise and tech understanding and experience. This deal will help us to bring these elements together and create a very strong proposition.

The opportunity is we were prepared to take our time on this, but the Mantis deal came along and felt like a good fit from the start, so we have been able to accelerate our growth in this space earlier than we anticipated.

How will its focus on medical technology help your clients? 
We have existing medtech clients such as BD and Elekta where we do great work. The Mantis team will augment the services we offer with additional experience, media capabilities and technical expertise. 

For Mantis clients we offer greater scale, additional services and broad experience they can tap into. And for new business, we can offer an extremely compelling proposition backed by a team with a mix of skills and expertise for a wide range of needs. 

Is the acquisition primarily for U.K. clients or across the board? 
Mantis is based in the U.K., but like us, they have the capability to deliver work internationally, either via our offices or our Ruder Finn global network and affiliate partners. We see the U.K. being one of our centers of excellence for medtech within Ruder Finn, but with complementary teams and experience across the world, we will be able to deliver and hub campaigns wherever clients need them.

Can you share examples of what Ruder Finn and Mantis will work on?
I can’t talk about specific client work; that’s confidential at the moment. But we are already looking at where we can enhance each other’s services to clients, as well as targeting companies that we feel can benefit from our combined offering. Watch this space.

Are there insights or elements that Mantis can bring to Ruder Finn because of its experience in the U.K. health system, which is very different from the U.S. system? If so, what are they?
Yes, they definitely can. The U.K.'s National Health Service is a unique and a highly nuanced market, particularly in regard to procurement frameworks, customer advocacy and stakeholder relations for suppliers. Mantis' role with both international and domestic clients is often as educator and connector, providing research and consultancy on the best way to penetrate the NHS. 

One interesting difference is the absence of competitor advantage: the NHS relies on and defers to its peer organizations for supplier advice, making engaged customer advocates vital for any tech firm, so this is a strong focus for Mantis' communications work.

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