Ex-Portland CEO Mark Flanagan takes new European role at Omnicom PR Group

Former Portland chief executive Mark Flanagan has been elevated to a new, wider European public and corporate affairs role at parent Omnicom PR Group (OPRG).

Mark Flanagan (pictured) becomes president, European public and corporate affairs, at OPRG, reporting to the group’s chief executive, Chris Foster, and joining the global leadership team.

The company said Flanagan will work alongside the public affairs and corporate leaders from the group’s agencies to “expand existing client relationships as well as identify and secure new clients”. He will also be responsible for “developing innovative new offers and services and driving collaboration across Europe”.

Flanagan left his role as Portland chief executive in July when Vikki Dean was promoted to CEO, although he remained at the agency as a senior advisor.

He joined Portland in 2010 from Downing Street, where he was head of strategic communications under Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He has held several leadership posts at Portland, including senior partner and UK managing director, and became chief executive at the end of 2019.

During Flanagan’s 12 years at Portland the agency has grown to a team of more than 300 across the world. The UK business employed 190 people at the end of 2021, with estimated revenue of £31m, according to the PRWeek UK Top 150 Consultancies research.

Foster said: “I am pleased to welcome Mark to the global OPRG leadership team. He has deep experience in the European corporate and public affairs space and a proven record of driving growth and guiding clients. I look forward to partnering with him to build a large-scale powerhouse practice in Europe that helps our clients tackle some of the thorniest, complex issues impacting corporate reputation.”

Flanagan said: “Having spent my entire agency career with one firm, I really wanted to take on the challenge of a wider group role. I’ve learned that we are best when we collaborate and innovate in the service of our clients. I’m excited by Chris Foster’s vision for international growth and confident that we have the smartest talent and the right capabilities in the group to deliver that vision.”

Omnicom’s comms agencies include FleishmanHillard, Ketchum, Porter Novelli, Marina Maher Communications, Interbrand, C Space, Wolff Olins, Sterling, Siegel & Gale and Hall & Partners.

Portland was founded in 2001 by Tim Allan, a former adviser to Tony Blair and ex-director of communications at BSkyB. Omnicom acquired a majority stake in the business in 2012 and later took full ownership, with Allan stepping down in 2019. The agency has offices in Europe, the Middle East, the US, Asia and Africa.

Recent years have seen significant changes at Portland, with a restructure of most of its global business under a single P&L in 2020 alongside a number of new arrivals and departures.

Dean, who was formerly Google’s director of global policy, returned to the agency the following year as deputy chief executive. Last year also brought the arrival of Boris Johnson’s former deputy chief of staff, Katie Lam, and Gabriel Milland from Public First.

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