LONDON — Porter Novelli has unveiled a new global proposition framed around brands ‘doing business better’, evolving the focus on purpose it has held since 2018.

As part of the move, Porter Novelli, which marks its 50th anniversary this year, has aligned its business globally around four areas: brand growth, corporate counsel, purpose & impact, and employee experience, underpinned by the agency’s proprietary data and intelligence tools.

In full, the firm’s refreshed positioning for clients is as “a strategic communications company, built on purpose to do business better. In a shifting landscape of new influences and audience power, we decode change, navigate culture and deepen authenticity to shape reputation and accelerate growth.”

Porter Novelli global CEO David Bentley, who joined the firm from McKinsey in 2020, told PRovoke Media: “We’ve been working on this for a while. The world has changed over the past three years, socially, environmentally and politically, and we’ve seen a substantial shift in the way clients want to be supported. For us, I’m excited that this is a true reflection of the work we are now doing for clients and a call to action for doing business better and the role companies could and should play in the world.

“Communications is a superpower in today’s world, and the timing is right for the process we’ve gone through in terms of how we talk to clients and how we talk about ourselves, our strong heritage, the structural and leadership changes we have made, including promoting Conroy Boxhill – who leads corporate counsel – to US president in July.”

Other regional leaders under the new structure include UK head of health Ludivine Delattre, who has moved into a more prominent role as director of employee engagement role across EMEA, and Sandy Skees, who continues to lead purpose and impact in the US.

Bentley (pictured) said the agency had seen double digit growth across all sectors and regions over the past two years, with particular strength in work for government agencies, healthcare, food and agriculture, plus new mandates for Visa and data management firm Iron Mountain.

He said the rationale for the new proposition was underpinned by the findings in Porter Novelli’s fifth annual study of corporate reputation, ‘The Purpose Priorities Report: How to respond to the new Era of Accountability’, which he said “highlights how companies are being held to account, as audiences are looking to them for leadership.”

According to the research, based on a survey of 7,000 American adults, 84% of consumers wanted companies to not only make pledges around social justice and sustainability, but to demonstrate how they are following through on promises to people, the planet or society.

The report also found consumers are demanding genuine change, with 78% saying companies should have a point of view on environmental sustainability, 72% saying companies need to change the way they operate to address diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) and 65% saying companies should encourage consumers to support social or environmental issues.

Bentley said: “People are tired of talk – the era of accountability has arrived. Consumers want to hear more Patagonia, and less ‘virtue signalling’. Expectations have moved from politicians to CEOs to solve some of the biggest environmental, financial and societal challenges. The weight of responsibility is on business now.”

As part of the report, Porter Novelli has developed a ‘Better Business Matrix’, which maps the reputation of more than 200 brands – including the Fortune 100 and those on the Fortune Best Companies to Work For and DiversityInc's list of the World's Most Ethical companies – to highlight the positive impact of purpose. Companies that performed the best within their industry included Toyota (automotive), T-Mobile (communications), Intel (technology), PepsiCo (food and beverage) and US-based outdoor retailer REI.