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Kevin Welman’s 20-year career at FleishmanHillard helped establish the firm as one of the top consultancies in Africa. So his departure last year was keenly-watched, particularly when he re-emerged soon afterwards with a new consultancy called ByDesign Communications. Welman and co-founder Vanessa Baard might have thought that an easier life beckoned but they can probably throw those plans out of the window. Not only has ByDesign already landed a staggering 10 major clients since it launched, but the 8-month-old consultancy has also showcased the kind of boutique positioning that is the lifeblood of PR agency renewal in more mature markets.
New business has included blue-chip companies such as Mercedes-Benz, SAP, Anglo American, Adidas and Coronation Fund Managers. The firm also showcases a progressive blend of content, public relations, digital strategy and crisis communication — signifying a relatively disruptive approach in a market that still thrives on media relations. Standout work includes supporting Anglo American’s education-focused projects, helping News24’s native digital project, working on SAP’s Africa Code Week and on Mercedes-Benz’s #EveryTerrain campaign. — AS
Long Run Works (UK/Independent)
Long Run Works launched in 2015 when two former colleagues sought an answer to this question — how can PR do more to tackle society's biggest challenges. And they agreed on an answer — “by helping good ideas grow faster by making stronger stories, from the ground up.”
Partners Guy Pattison (who is also CEO) and Will Hill took things a step farther and created six cultural goals, inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. These are: celebrating clean innovation; discovering opportunities through diversity; opening access to education; breaking taboos in the way of wellbeing; making responsible consumption desirable; and appreciating the value of the natural world.
Long Run Works makes it a point only work with clients, partners and suppliers that align with these goals. “We also write our own briefs as well as answering clients’. By doing this we create action where a client doesn’t exist but great ideas do.” The agency also reminds the team that stories are never over, always pay things forward and don’t be, essentially, a jerk.
Fee income for 2016 was £177,020 which is 112% growth on its first 10 months. This growth was fueled by key clients like Innovate UK, Digitalme, City & Guilds Group, Women’s Equality Party, Kings College London, ITO World, Heritage Wind, Sheila McKetchnie Foundation and Blockbuilders. The agency also invested £25k profit from its first year of trading to co-fund and cofound a campaign called What Women Want 2.0 that launched at the UN’s Committee on the Status of Women in New York. The firm also hosted six workshops for people looking to become better storytellers.
Notable work includes helping Innovate UK grow cleantech SMEs faster by launching a UK-based training and PR programme. “We work with Long Run Works because they understand what it takes to bring innovative and sustainable ideas to market but more importantly explain them to audiences of potential customers, investors and partners,” says Dr. Mike Pitts, head of urban systems at Innovate UK. — AaS
Well Hello (UK/Independent)
Nick Woods & Lisa Taylor see Well Hello as a new breed of agency “born with a clear purpose and named not after ‘an old/dead/white guy,’ but after their belief and vision.” In the case of Well Hello, 'well' is its sector and 'hello' is the belief that brands should be conversational.
Beyond this, its positioning is “making the world a better place by by choosing to only work with goodness brands” (which it defines as brands that help people look good, feel good or do good.) In practical terms, this includes pharma; consumer health (sex health, colds & flu, vitamins & supplements, foot health, intimate health, mental health, smoking cessation etc); health technology; nutrition & diet; fitness & sport; and fashion & beauty.
Fee income is £175K with clients that include For Goodness Shakes protein/recovery drinks, ONE condoms, Neurovalens, HECK Sausages, Enertor and The Soil Association. Notably, Well Hello bested 11 other agencies to win the Superdrug’s health & wellbeing portfolio — even more impressive when you consider this was won solely by the two principals and a freelancer and work started even earlier than the RFP called for.
For Valentine’s Day this year, Well Hello researched the most popular days to have sex and then persuaded Superdrug to create an entirely new range of lubes, dubbed the Sex O'Clock range, in which each product was named, for example 9am Sunday, 10pm Saturday, 7am Tuesday - eight in all, named after the least and most popular times for sex. These were and are available on the Superdrug website alongside all other lubes own-label and otherwise.
The four-person shop defines its culture as Benni Wooha, which stands for 'be nice, work hard' and is demonstrated through tailored training and rewards packages. — AaS
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