LONDON — Three new communications agencies have launched in the UK and Europe, founded by senior agency leaders across the reputation and crisis, healthcare and digital sectors.

Former Teneo senior managing director George Hutchinson (pictured, left) has set up River Effra in London as a reputation risk and crisis communications advisory firm, based on a methodology that puts communications risk management alongside legal, financial and operational counsel.

River Effra – named after one of London’s hidden underground rivers – has launched with an advisory panel of risk and crisis professionals with experience drawn from aviation, the police, the legal professions, print and broadcast media.

The panel is comprised of: crisis specialist Rod Cartwright; former EasyJet head of communications Katie Kershaw; former BBC journalist and NGO head of communications Tim Reid; former Home Office communications officer and journalist Richard White; crisis advisor Simon Benson; brand reputation specialist Tom Conway-Gordon; former NatWest reputation risk advisor Sharon Prosser; Amanda Coleman, chair of the UK’s Emergency Planning Society Communication Professional Working Group; international corporate criminal defence specialist Stephen Lock; and Sheena Thompson, a board member at the International Institute of Risk and Crisis Communications Association.

Founder and CEO Hutchinson said: “For far too long the corporate affairs industry has promised business leaders that it can ‘press release’ or ‘relationship’ its way out of a crisis to avert a major risk. Business and organisations that have been called out for putting their reputation first have done the opposite, burning through hard won reputational capital by failing to properly understand and consider reputational consequence. We need to change this, and business leaders need better answers that deliver better outcomes.”

The second new agency to launch in the past week is healthcare communications specialist POP Health, founded by former 90Ten managing director Sabrina Gomersall to offer clients strategy and creative implementation across disease awareness, patient advocacy, product and corporate communications, internal communications and issues management.

Gomersall (pictured, centre) said the agency’s name comes from an approach she calls “power of partnerships’: “Our industry is founded on the importance of understanding people. And having emerged from an isolating time in the pandemic, we need more meaningful interactions to make our work succeed both in its delivery and its outcome. We’re seeing a rise in quiet quitting and people looking for more time out, but POP is on a mission to increase the joy and effectiveness of our work through the partnerships we make along the way.”

Finally, new pan-European integrated communications agency The Monarchs has been set up by PR and digital media professional David Clare, who was previously a founding partner of European agency Tyto. Clare was also head of PR at integrated marketing agency Fox Agency and began his career at Hotwire’s digital agency, 33 Digital.

The Monarchs will provide PR, content and SEO services for the pan-European market, and launches with a roster of retained clients, including enterprise network operator Pod Group, Griffin Schools Trust and online drinks trading platform Spiritrade. The agency already has two full-time account executives and plans to hire further across Europe, initially in Spain.

Clare (pictured, right) said: “I established The Monarchs out of a desire to create a workplace and agency partner that prioritises treating all people fairly and honestly, whether staff, client, or other stakeholders, and where delivering great work with pride is a given.

“The fact is, SEO is trying to eat PR’s lunch. But in doing so, it’s giving PR a bad name. There are folks emailing journalists with too much entitlement, asking for links and article placements without putting in the essential groundwork of so-called ‘traditional PR’. Yes, PR must integrate SEO opportunities far more than currently, but SEO also needs to understand the weight of editorial authority.”