The 26-strong roster currently boasts some of the UK’s major agencies and was set up in 2001 for a three to five-year period.
Despite having the option not to review the roster until 2006, the COI has decided to take action now to better reflect the market, which has seen a number of mergers and acquisitions since the roster was last compiled.
Two changes to rostered agencies include Edelman’s acquisition of Jackie Cooper PR (PRWeek, 14 May) and Tribal Group’s acquisition of Geronimo PR (PRWeek, 15 August 2003).
COI comms head of corporate PR Janice O’Reilly said: ‘There has been a lot of change in the industry in the past three years and we need to make sure we have got the right people on our roster.
‘There are new agencies out there that were too young at the last review but will be more established now,’ she added.
Agencies on the roster can take on briefs from any government department, with the COI handling the majority of Whitehall’s public relations.
The roster will be open to all agencies in the UK and those currently listed will have to reapply.
It is not necessary for agencies to have public sector experience in order to be considered for government accounts, but applicants will need to be able to show creativity, effectiveness, financial stability and strong case studies, according to O’Reilly.
The review will be a two-stage process managed by COI PR and sponsorship director Oliver Hickson. He said: ‘There have been a lot of changes in the industry, with mergers and acquisitions, management buyouts and start-ups.
‘The time is right to take a fresh look at the market to ensure we provide the best service for government departments by having access to the best agencies.’
Hickson and his 12-strong PR team will embark on the mammoth task of evaluating each written application before producing a long-list of agencies to visit. Over 200 expressions of interest have already been received.
The final roster is expected to be in place by October.