LONDON – Hanover Communications has hired Gary Cleland to the newly-created role of deputy managing director of its corporate practice, as part of plans to grow its corporate client base.

Cleland joins from Cohn & Wolfe (now BCW), where he had been a senior director since May 2017 and led the agency’s relationship with Barclays and Barclaycard. He has also held senior roles at Edelman and MHP, having started his career as a newspaper journalist, including at the Daily Telegraph.

He will report to Gavin Megaw, managing director of corporate and brand at Hanover and chairman of The Playbook, and will lead the 20-strong Hanover corporate practice on a day-to-day basis.

Cleland told the Holmes Report: “I’m very excited about the new role. Hanover has a reputation for being smart and increasingly creative, and I was really struck by the ambition, thinking and energy of everyone I met. I felt I could make a difference, drive the corporate team forward and bring in great new clients, and continue to do interesting work. We may bring in new people as we grow, and there will be a big emphasis on new business, and showing the breadth of talent in the practice and the wider agency.”

Among his priorities is to review the expertise within the team before looking at potential clients and sectors to target, including financial services and energy.

Megaw added: “We have been searching for the hottest strategic communications talent to take up this important role. Gary was the outstanding candidate in that process. His strategic approach, campaign mind-set and cultural fit meant he was a direct match to our aspirations. His appointment comes at a crucial time for Hanover as we continue to invest to realise our ambition of becoming the best in class corporate reputation agency.”

Hanover’s other senior appointments over the past year have included Andrew Baiden as MD of The Playbook in February, former BBC chief political correspondent Guto Hari as a senior advisor in May, and Virgo Health founder Sarah Matthew joining as chair of the healthcare practice in June.