Name of agency: Word Association
Address: 6a Forresters Road, Burbage, Leicestershire
Telephone: 01455 614333
Ranking in Public Sector Top 25: 13
% growth in public sector fee income: 15%
Public Sector fee income 2008: £674
Total fee income 2008: £793
Total staff 2008: 12
Who is in the hotseat? Chief Executive Mark Thomas
Former journalist Mark established Word Association in 1991 after working in senior communications roles with two social housing organisations.
Sum up your agency’s 2008 in three words: Bucking the trend
Three best public sector client or campaign wins:
Three Oaks Homes, Leicestershire – managing the launch and communications strategy for this new housing association following a homes transfer from Blaby District Council
Beechdale Community Housing Association, Walsall – developing and implementing a PR & communications strategy which involved launching ‘The Noize’, a highly successful community newspaper
EMDA, Nottingham – working with this regional development agency on its e-communications helping to attract foreign investment to the region
Public sector highlights of 2008: The Government’s response to the recession including additional investment in parts of the public sector. All party agreement on the need to continue prioritising and investing in health and education. The creation of a new regulator, the Tenant Services Authority, in the social housing sector. Growing influence of local authorities which will, for example, see them building council housing again for the first time in a generation.
Significant hires in the public sector team in 2008: Lyndsey Hunt who joined the team from the Wolverhampton-based Express & Star, the country’s highest circulation regional newspaper where she became the youngest chief reporter. Lyndsey made a big impact on the service and our clients from the moment she arrived and was promoted to PR and editorial director earlier this year.
Staffing overall 2008: 12, half the team specialises in PR, events and marketing strategy. Other members focus on design, publications and website services
Plans and predictions for public sector PR in 2009: We will continue to offer a range of communications services that respond to the big strategic issues facing the sector. We see opportunities to support the sector in areas such as media training, crisis communications, stakeholder relationship management, customer involvement and inspection communications. In all of this we will demonstrate our knowledge of the sector and our ability to deliver cost effective solutions.
What are the main challenges facing public sector PR? The recession will bite hard for many public sector organisations who will need to prepare for reduced investment. This will inevitably put pressure on budgets across the board including PR. This means that more than ever our work will be about achieving value for money, evaluating success and demonstrating that PR is really making a difference. The possibility of a new Government with new policies will demand changes to stakeholder relationship strategies and creative responses to new initiatives.
How is the recession affecting the public sector, in your eyes? It’s affecting confidence and future planning more than anything at the moment. Reduced budgets and an even greater focus on efficiency will be central to public sector working throughout the next decade. Lean, efficient, hard-working, results-focused consultancies such as Word Association will therefore continue to prosper.
One thing you won’t know about the agency: We’ll be 20 years old next year. The time has flown by and we are still learning, growing and getting better.
Word Association Team 2009