FH hires Wood to run Seventy Seven shop

Fishburn Hedges has appointed Matt Wood, the founder and former MD of Joe Public Relations, to spearhead its planned assault on the consumer PR market.

Wood was unveiled this week as MD of FH’s new agency – called Seventy Seven – which has just one founding client, National Boatshows, and five staff.

Seventy Seven is the first subsidiary to launch within the recently established FH Group. It plans to pitch alongside its parent, AMV Group, the UK’s largest ad agency, as it bids to secure clients.

Other founding agency staff are CEO Marc Moninski, associate director Sam Brickhill and consultants James Gordon Macintosh and Michelle Saxby.

Wood quit JPR in February and has spent the subsequent months in parent group NextFifteen’s offices, handling ‘special projects’ while on gardening leave.

His exit came just months after JPR was merged into sister NextFifteen agency August.One Communications (PRWeek, 4 June 2003).

August.One MD Stuart Handley this week claimed JPR, which Wood founded in 1998, was ‘growing’ despite the exit of Wood and most of the 13 consultants who joined August.One last summer.

JPR has also ceased working for clients including eBay, Casio and 3 this year.

August.One consumer director Sally Hetherington claimed there had been ‘relatively few’ client losses since the merger, and that JPR continued to work for clients including Holmes Place and Umbro.

She added: ‘We knew there would be natural attrition [of JPR clients and staff] and we have replaced them.’

JPR/August.One now has 14 staff handling consumer PR, according to Hetherington, who acknowledged this was five fewer than before the merger.

Both Handley and Hetherington said there were no plans to kill off the JPR brand.

FH revealed its intention to launch a separate consumer PR agency last October (PRWeek, 31 October 2003).

Wood said: ‘Consumer PR has become a lot more competitive. It’s more price-driven, clients are looking at more effective ways of measuring campaigns and there are a lot more agencies in the frame at pitches.’

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