LONDON — Independent PR consultant Stuart Bruce and digital specialist Tim Bailey have set up a new agency, Purposeful Relations, to support agencies and in-house communications teams through digital transformation.

The duo have developed CommsTransform, billed as a “digital transformation roadmap” for communications and corporate affairs, to underpin the new offer. CommsTransform audits and analyses individual and team capabilities, work processes and technology, benchmarks against the PRtech, commstech and martech sectors, and produces a plan for improving the use of existing technology, streamlining and improving workflows, new technology that might improve performance, and professional development.

Over the last 10 years Bruce has worked has worked with clients in Europe, Middle East, India, Asia and Australia as an independent corporate adviser and trainer on modernising public relations as well as providing consultancy on crisis communications and measurement and evaluation.

Bruce and Bailey previously worked together at Wolfstar, one of the UK’s first digital-first PR consultancies, which Bruce set up in 2007 and exited in 2011. Bailey was an early recruit when he joined as client-facing chief technology officer, and has subsequently held in-house digital transformation roles and worked at digital and e-commerce agencies.

Bruce told PRovoke Media: “For the last 10 years I’ve worked independently to help clients modernise through a blend of consultancy and training to help them use communications technology more effectively and to adopt new processional practice. Most of my clients have spent money on multiple tools that are doing same thing, and they’ve invested in people and training but they need a more strategic, coherent approach so they get more return.

“CommsTransform is a synthesis of this experience with Tim’s experience of digital transformation across numerous sectors, and turns digital transformation from a buzz phrase, to practically helping people get tangible benefits. Critically, 47% of CCOs say their teams struggle to adapt and leverage digital tools and analytics. We help clients to not only solve their technology challenges but more importantly the bigger cultural and professional practice challenges.”

Bailey added: “Technology has revolutionised the legal, financial and marketing worlds. Communications and public relations are playing catch-up. The Edelman Future of Corporate Communications Study 2021 reported that 70% of chief communication officers said commstech is a top area of investment for the coming year, but despite this eagerness to invest, many will fail as barriers include identifying the right technology, justifying the investment, and resolving conflicts with IT and marketing.”

Purposeful Relations has set up a global advisory board to provide insights and critical thinking on the future of society and business as well as public relations and communications. The board members include: professor Anne Gregory at the University of Huddersfield, who led Global Alliance’s work on creating the Global Capabilities Framework; Tim Johns, former VP of global corporate communications for Unilever; associate professor Kara Alaimo of Hofstra University in New York, formerly President Obama’s spokesperson for international affairs in the US Treasury.

The board also includes technology journalist Becca Caddy, who wrote ‘Screen Time’ about finding a better balance with technology; Wayne Burns, executive director of the Centre for Corporate Public Affairs in Sydney; and Amith Prabhu, a Global Alliance board member and dean of the School of Communications and Reputation in India.

The core CommsTransform product is supported by four related services: selecting and implementing technology products; professional development and training; measurement and evaluation; and helping clients respond to emerging trends such as purpose, ESG, behavioural science, and disinformation and misinformation.

Purposeful Relations’ target clients are agencies and in-house teams at mid-size multinational companies. The two directors are already working with a pool of independent consultants to deliver projects for clients including an in-house team in the financial services sector, and plan to recruit in the coming year around required skills.