LONDON — To mark the first anniversary of the death of Francis Ingham, the former director general of the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), the organisation has partnered with the Taylor Bennett Foundation to set up a professional development programme to break down barriers that prevent people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds from thriving in the PR and communications industry. The Professional Development Francis Ingham Fund will include professional and personal development masterclasses to support candidates entering PR; a fund to support those who need assistance with attending events or with work attire; networking opportunities for diverse talent; and PRCA speaking and networking opportunities, accreditation and training.

LONDON — W Communications has acquired celebrity casting and partnership services agency Franses. Chief executive Chloe Franses (pictured), who founded the firm in 2012 after roles at Amnesty International, Soho House Group, and Freuds, is staying with the business, which will be rebranded as Franses Global. The agency’s briefs include multichannel campaigns, ambassador programmes, events and product gifting. Franses’ purpose and sustainability division become part of W’s corporate offer.

HELSINKI — Finnish social-first creative agency Kurio, which has worked with clients including Microsoft, Unilever, Accenture, Fazer and Nokia, has been acquired by Madrid-headquartered marketing group Samy Alliance, which operates in over 55 markets and has offices in 14 countries including the UK, Europe and the US. Samy group clients include Diageo, Microsoft, Formula 1, KIA, Tous, Netflix, INNEOS, L'Oreal, Beiersdorf, The North Face, Unilever and Samsung. The deal was brokered by M&A advisors Waypoint Partners.

KENYA — Strategic communications agency Woodrow has launched the Woodrow PR Academy, thought to be the first agency-led, fully-funded academy for communications professionals in sub-Saharan Africa. The agency, which is headquartered in London and has an office in Kenya, will offer online and virtual masterclasses from media, comms and creative leaders, including Emmy-winning content creator Winnie Dunbar Nelson, a former producer of the Oprah Winfrey Show; Jonathan Rosenthal, Africa editor at the Economist; Reuters emerging markets lead correspondent Karin Strohecker; creative writer Jackson Biko; and CNBC Africa financial markets editor Aby Agina.

LONDON — Boldspace has launched a new film department with a team of content producers and post-production specialists. Boldspace Film is underpinned by a partnership with filmmaker Orillo Films, as well as the agency’s proprietary CineSense analytics platform, which monitors engagement, views, eye tracking and emotional response.

MILAN — Public Affairs Advisors, an advisory firm specialising in institutional relations, lobbying and advocacy programmes across the energy, environment, and infrastructure, with offices in Rome and Milan, has become part of Italian corporate advisory firm Excellera Advisory Group. Excellera was established from the combination of Cattaneo Zanetto Pomposo & Co, Community, and Value Relations. With the support of Xenon Private Equity, it has chosen Public Affairs Advisors – founded by Giovanni Galgano in 2012 – to strengthen its energy, environment, and infrastructure expertise.

MANCHESTER — Gemma Eccleston, formerly of PR Agency One and Tangerine Communications, has launched her own PR and communications agency based in Manchester, Hendrix Rose PR. The new agency provides senior support to start-ups and SMEs as an extension of their marketing teams. As well as traditional PR and earned media relations, Hendrix Rose will offer digital PR, broadcast, social media management, content creation, and events and award support. The agency’s launch clients include Nexer Digital, Teletech and Solarsport.

LONDON — Sports and entertainment marketing agency Playmaker Experiential has been acquired by global experiential agency OBE Worldwide. Playmaker was founded in 2023 by managing partners Ian Hayne and James Hogben and has worked with clients including JP Morgan, Nike, NFL and The Swimathon Foundation. OBE Worldwide has bought a majority stake in the agency.