The latest PR news from PRovoke Media, previously known as the Holmes Report.
Opinion and commentary from PRovoke Media, previously known as the Holmes Report.
Catch the latest PR news & updates with PRovoke Media's PR Podcasts. Lifting the lid on key industry stories & trends, join our listeners of PR podcasts today.
Latest video interviews and campaigns from PRovoke Media, previously known as the Holmes Report.
The most popular news stories, longreads, podcasts, trends and more from PRovoke Media in 2023.
Long-form journalism that analyzes the issues, challenges and opportunities facing the business and practice of PR.
Industry-leading analysis of the PR stories that matter.
Explore PR profiles and interviews with leaders from the marketing and PR worlds.
Keeping up with the latest thinking on PR industry expansion.
All of PRovoke Media's coverage and events from the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Coverage of the Cannes Lions from PRovoke Media in association with ICCO.
PR Crisis & Business Crisis review. PRovoke Media's annual analysis of the top reputation crises to rock the corporate sector. Read on here.
PRovoke Media's coverage of the Covid-19 crisis, focusing on corporate communication, public affairs & PR industry fallout.
PRovoke Media's PR Trends round up. PRovoke Media's annual forecast of PR trends and news that will impact the PR world in the year ahead...
Diversity & inclusion trends, views and analysis from Provoke Media.
Creative work, trends and views from the global public relations industry.
Dedicated to exploring the new frontiers of PR as it dives deeper into social media, content and analytics.
Our coverage of key technology PR trends and challenges from around the world of digital communications.
From brand marketing to conscious consumerism, coverage of key marketing and PR trends worldwide.
PRovoke Media's coverage, analysis and news around the rapidly-shifting area of employee engagement and internal communications.
Sports PR news, diversity & inclusion trends, views and analysis from PRovoke Media. Subscribe today for the very latest in the world of sports communications.
PRovoke Media's definitive global benchmark of global PR agency size and growth.
Enter PRovoke Media's 2024 Global 250 Agency Ranking and/or our Agencies of the Year competitions now.
PRovoke Media's annual selections for PR Agencies of the Year, across all of the world's major markets.
The 100 most influential CCOs & CMOs of leading brands around the world.
PRovoke Media profiles marcomms innovators from across North America, EMEA and Asia-Pac.
The most creatively awarded PR campaigns and agencies in the world.
In-depth annual research into the PR industry's efforts to raise creative standards.
APACD/Ruder Finn annual study of Asia-Pacific in-house communications professionals.
The world's biggest PR awards programme, dedicated to benchmarking the best PR work from across the globe.
The biggest PR conference of the year, a high-level forum designed to address the critical issues that matter most.
A global network of conferences that explore the innovation and disruption that is redefining public relations.
Unrivalled insight into the world's best PR agencies, across specialist and geographic categories.
Our Roundtables bring together in-house comms leaders with PR firms to examine the future of communications.
PRovoke Media elevates the PR industry at Cannes, in conjunction with ICCO.
PRovoke Media's coverage & events from the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The PR industry’s most comprehensive listing of firms from every region and specialty
Find the latest global PR and communications jobs from PRovoke Media. From internships to account executives or directors. See all our PR jobs here.
Content from PRovoke Media's premium partners.
PRovoke Media's editorial series published in collaboration with partners.
Analysis of all of the Winners and Finalists across specialist categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or below. Winners are announced at the 2023 Global SABRE Awards, taking place at the 2023 PRovokeGlobal Summit on 8 November.
Technically, SEC Newgate is less than four years old, dating to September 2019 when Italian firm SEC merged with Newgate’s holding company Porta. But SEC’s roots stretch back to its founding in Italy 30 years ago, while Newgate itself has been around for more than a decade. And there has been a sustained burst of activity since the merger, including the acquisitions of our North American Public Affairs AOY Global Strategy Group (GSG) in the US and Another in LatAm, backed by equity investment from THCP, and adding up to 52 offices across five continents. All of which adds up to a firm with considerable depth across corporate, public affairs, financial and crisis.
SEC Newgate is based in Milan but its 1,100+ staffers operate from 52 offices across five continents. There are seven offices in Italy, along with eight in the UK, a sizeable Brussels operation, along with a presence in France and Germany and Spain. SEC has a strong footprint in Poland too, plus offices in Dubai and Saudi Arabia. Australia dominates SEC Newgate’s current Asia-Pacific footprint with 120 people, while there are smaller operations in Singapore (15) and Greater China (13), and a focus on expanding further into Korea and Southeast Asia. And GSG is headquartered in New York, with additional offices in Washington, DC; Hartford, Conn.; Denver, Chicago, Nashville, and Seattle.
SEC Newgate reported $196m in fee income in 2022, with acquisitions helping the firm grow rapidly from $106m in 2021. Its EMEA fee income accounts for around $70m, thanks to a client roster that features the German Government (framework agreement), Countryside Property, Fondazione Cariplo, ACOS, TERNA, CEFIC, Cain International, ED&F Man, and Gore and Associates. GSG’s revenues increased by a very healthy 27% in 2022, to just under $68 million—and while it benefited from the campaign work and increased polling that comes with an election year, there was a significant growth (better than 35%) in long-term client engagements. In Asia-Pacific, SEC Newgate grew 14% to $22m in 2022, with each market contributing. Australia was up 16%, as the firm’s breadth across research, financial, corporate and PA, alongside a partnership with cybersecurity firm CyberCX, helped land complex assignments for Optus, ANZ Suncorp, Council of the Aging, Star Entertainment Group and Tabcorp.
CEO Fiorenzo Tagliabue is supported by deputy group CEOs Emma Kane and Tom Parker — while Brian Tyson, managing partner of the Australian operation, also serves as global deputy CEO, a recognition of the market’s critical importance to the firm respectively. GSG's leadership team remains unaffected by the acquisition: founding partners Jon Silvan (CEO), Jefrey Pollock (president); partners Tanya Meck (managing director and corporate reputation lead), Nick Gourevitch (md, research), and Jim Papa (head of the DC office). SEC Newgate’s DEI policies have been a priority since 2019, resulting in 47% female leadeship, and 10% staff identifying as BIPOC. SEC Newgate is certified as a ‘Benefit company’ in Italy, and is currently obtaining B-Corp status, as is the UK operation. All of the group agencies sponsor and executive pro-bono work for charities dedicated to diversity and inclusion, or initiatives for health and diversity.
In Australia, robust thought leadership activities include public affairs briefs around major events like elections and budgets, along with a new bi-monthly Mood of the Nation sentiment tracker with the Australian. More notably, perhaps, the firm has expanded its annual ESG Monitor from Australia into a successful global study. Campaign highlights included Expo Dubai; resetting policy for French energy think tank Cérémé; and supporting Falck Renewables’ decarbonisation goals in Italy. GSG released its 10th annual Business & Politics Report, The Shifting Politics of Doing Good in America, looking at the backlash against ESG and DEI activities and offering strong encouragement to companies engaged on societal issues, while providing recommendations on the ways in which they can minimize risk. Meanwhile, GSG’s Eye on the Economy reported on voters’ views of the economy and governance, and Melting Pot released a qualitative report on the attitudes and voting behaviors of Black voters. As for the client work, GSG continued to be involved in a host of critical issues for corporate clients, helping Pratt & Whitney lay the ground for its new engine upgrade, and ultimately secure a major contract from Congress and the Department of Defense; and supporting National Grid as it sought to establish itself as a leader in New York’s transition to clean energy.
— Arun Sudhaman
Blurred was set up in 2018 by former Unity co-founder Nik Govier, the firm’s CEO, along with founding partners Stuart Lambert, Katy Stolliday and Emma Weisgard, with a vision of building a strategic and creative advisory firm in a world designed for a world where the lines between audience, sector, and discipline are less clear than ever. The fast-growing B Corp firm – whose values are daring, democratic, driven, difference and diverse – has evolved its offer to focus on what it calls ESGP (environmental, societal, governance plus purpose), recognising the blurring of lines where corporate action, consumer concern and investor expectations meet. The agency now helps some of the world’s biggest brands understand their footprint on the world and address material ESG risks so that they can become a force for positive impact. At the start of 2022, the agency rebranded from Blurred.london to Blurred.global to reflect the international nature of its client base – 65% of which are now non-UK based – mandates and team.
Blurred is headquartered in London and it has core team members in France and the Netherlands; its corporate and creative cohorts of expert advisors are based around the world.
Blurred grew by 37.5% last year to fee income of more than £3.8 million, with the permanent team growing to 25 people. Blurred has two distinct client groups: multinationals – including some of the biggest companies in the world – which the agency is helping to advance in terms of ESGP and telling the strongest possible story, and new climate impact-focused businesses that have the potential to become the giants of the future. New clients included Capri Holdings (Jimmy Choo and Versace) and used car marketplace Motorway, joining a bench that includes The Coca-Cola Company and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, Associated British Foods (owner of Primark), BT Group, British chemicals and sustainable technologies multinational Johnson Mathey and Arcelik, the Turkish owner of Beko and Grundig.
Blurred’s culture – like its work – focuses on ‘betterment’ and helping people be their true, best selves. It was one of the first agencies to achieve Blueprint status and is committed to DE&I in all its facets; the team is diverse in terms of ethnicity, neurodiversity, gender, sexual orientation, age, religious belief, national origin and socio-economic background. Of the core team, 36% is of ethnic minority origin, with 18% of senior roles held by colleagues from ethnic minority backgrounds. The core team is 76% female, with women holding 71% of senior roles. Blurred has also started measuring against socio-economic diversity to ensure it seeks out and develops talent from disadvantaged backgrounds. Everyone in the firm has a fortnightly coaching session, and the firm asks every team member and new joiner for their five personal needs, which it measures itself against meeting. The leadership team includes MD Rachel Minty and senior partners Matt Peacock, formerly group corporate affairs director at Vodafone, and Jeremy Cohen former group head of responsible business at National Grid, senior consulting director Anisha Vikram Shah, who leads the Coca-Cola and ABF accounts, and head of talent Jenny Pape, who also leads the R3cruit product, which hires for clients. Senior consultancy hires in 2022 included Veronica Patton-Cemm from Intent Health, Karen Noctor ex of Smarts and Golin, and ESG advisor Cathal Wogan.
Much of Blurred’s work is confidential, but outstanding projects included three ESG capital market days to reposition ABF, the owner of Primark and 70 other businesses, in terms of social good and its ESG commitments and actions. Each was attended by around 700 institutional investors and post-event investor notices universally finished with the most important word in the public company world in relation to shares: buy. In 2022, the firm put its Materiality Mapping process – which maps client risk and opportunity against axes of impact on people and planet’ and ‘impact on brand’ – at the centre of its proposition. Blurred also ran two sessions attended by more than 100 people from around the world, looking at new ESG statutory reporting requirements. These led directly to new income including a major global multinational swapping PWC for Blurred to help it navigate the complex area for its C-suite.
— Maja Pawinska Sims
It was a landmark year of accelerated international growth for European public affairs heavyweight Rud Pedersen. The firm was founded in Sweden in 2002 by Morten Rud Pedersen and established market leadership positions in the four main Nordic markets before setting its sights on a broader continental footprint in 2018, starting a programme of expansion through setting up owned offices and majority stakes in local public affairs firms. In 2022, the firm expanded further, with five new operations in the UK, France, Poland, Latvia and Bulgaria. Rud Pedersen’s stated aim is to be the biggest public affairs firm in Europe, with ambition to cover every capital in Europe; Italy and Spain are its next targets. The firm has also expanded into strategic communications beyond public affairs, including political risk assessment, event planning, and crisis and issues management.
Rud Pedersen has 14 offices across Europe, in Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Helsinki, London, Oslo, Paris, Riga, Sofia, Stockholm, Tallinn, Vilnius and Warsaw.
The agency has grown by an average of 30% every year for the past five years in terms of fee income, with 2022 growth in line with this at 29.5% to €46 million. Rud Pedersen now has almost 500 people across Europe, one in five of whom are shareholders. Geographical expansion and a wider range of services has been a gamechanger for the scale of the work and the size of its clients; Rud Pedersen now works for the likes of Bayer, P&G, Estee Lauder, AkzoNobel, Diageo, Lego, Ely Lilly, Hello Fresh and chemicals giant Chemours. The agency has roughly 500 clients across the group in every industry sector including technology, healthcare, automotive, and a number of major trade associations and industry groups.
Rud Pedersen’s culture has been defined by the Nordic values of its charismatic founder, and despite its rapid growth it remains entrepreneurial, independent, ethical, open and straight-talking, with a great deal of motivation in each market thanks to the high proportion of senior employees who are shareholders. The firm holds regular town halls where information about the business is shared transparently, and is characterised by a non-siloed, decentralised, collegiate and collaborative approach. More than half the managing partners are female, and while racial diversity has been less of a hot-button issue on the continent than in the UK, the firm is conscious of its increasingly international client base and is developing programmes to address representation. Significant new hires in 2022 included former Sard Verbinnen and FTI leader Jon Aarons to lead its new London office, joined by former Chelgate CEO Liam Herbert earlier this year. In Germany, the firm had something of a coup in the appointment of prominent trade union leader Reiner Hoffman as a senior advisor, and it also hired former Edelman public affairs leader Sebastian Kruse as MD and head of healthcare in Berlin, and in Brussels, the team was boosted with the addition of European Chemicals Agency regulatory and risk expert Peter Simpson and former Syngenta public affairs and communications director Graeme Taylor as head of food and agriculture. .
Much of Rud Pedersen’s work is continuous and long-term, from influencing legislative change in different jurisdictions to an increasing amount of financial-adjacent work, advising investors on the political risks of M&As and IPOs in various countries. With so many employees in the Baltic region and Poland, the invasion of Ukraine has affected many of Rud Pedersen’s people; over the past year its team has been involved in humanitarian activity, fundraising and hosting refugees, and the firm agreed it would do no work to support the Russian regime. In terms of thought leadership, the firm’s senior leaders are often called on for political commentary around elections, and it publishes regular reports on topical issues across its markets. Rud Pedersen has also grown its work in organising events, including taking part in Sweden’s political festival, Almedalen.
— Maja Pawinska Sims
Former Weber Shandwick EVP Emma Smith launched her own firm in 2003, before selling the business to become part of the UK’s MHP Communications in 2013. After smartly concluding that the firm had better prospects as an independent outfit, Smith led an MBO of the business in 2019, creating Sandpiper Communications as a 100% employee owned operation. That move has helped unlock spectacular growth at a consultancy that focuses on the financial and professional services, healthcare, technology and energy sectors, bolstered by the acquisition of public affairs specialist North Head in China.
Sandpiper’s 115 staffers are spread across its largest operation in Singapore and its traditional HQ of Hong Kong, supported by smaller outfits in Beijing, Shanghai, Australia and New Zealand.
Sandpiper’s performance since the MBO are as good a reminder as any of the merits of independence. The firm has quadrupled in size since 2019, growing 83% last year alone to crack the $10m barrier. Much of that has been powered by an entrepreneurial investment strategy that has seen strong returns from such as areas as ESG and energy, international crisis and media, and research — while Sandpiper’s China business also submitted a strong performance last year. The firm’s FSPS business, covering insurance, fintech and professional services, accounts for almost 40% of revenue, with new business from ING Bank, Standard Chartered, ERM, Sun Life, Kroll, Schroders, Lazarad AM, All Funds and University of Chicago joining a client roster that features Linklaters, Kearney, MUFG Bank, LSEG and Cigna. In healthcare, new clients included Roche, Smith & Nephew and Ninety One, joining AstraZeneca, GSK, Sinovac and PhArma, while the firm’s tech practice features expanded remits from Cisco and Workday.
Smith is very much a hands-on CEO, but the firm owes much of its recent success to an expanded leadership team, which also features chief operating officer Kelly Johnston, Singapore GM Sarada Chellam, Hong Kong GM Natalie Siu, COO Phil Channon and head of brand Ed Brewster. New hires included strategy/innovation head Rob Van Alphen, public affairs director Ling Jin, and Craig Young and Paul Chong to lead Sandpiper’s new research unit. Keeping pace with its rapid growth, the firm has recognised the need to elevate its workplace focus, and now invests 1% of revenue in a formal training and development curriculum, supported by salary benchmarking and competitive benefits. The board is 75% female, reflecting a conscious focus on promoting women, and there are numerous initiatives to support employee development and inclusion, including a three-tier employee ownership and reward structure.
Sandpiper’s research arm has quietly developed into a formidable competitive edge, helping it develop proprietary intellectual property across such as areas as consumer expectations, financial services reputation, and — perhaps most notably — AI in comms, the first global survey of its kind. There are also regular insight newsletter and reports into ESG, healthcare, public affairs, China finance, and sustainability — all of which helps explain why Sandpiper launched a formalised research and insights business earlier this year. There has also been a noticeable improvement in Sandpiper’s campaign work, exemplified by SABRE nominated efforts for ViiV Healthcare, Schneider Electric, and Rita Ku & Ser.
— Arun Sudhaman
A high-level forum designed for senior practitioners to address the critical issues facing the profession.
We feel that the views of the reader are as important as the views of the writer. Please contact us at [email protected]Signup For Our Newsletter Media Kits/Editorial Calendar Jobs Postings A-Z News Sitemap
© Holmes Report LLC 2023