The emergence of several new exciting players in the financial and corporate communications sphere in the last year, is certainly firm proof that the industry is capable of evolving and reinventing itself in response to very different market conditions.
Talking to some of the founders of three new agencies; StockWell, Newgate and Pendomer, it is also clear that there is scope to do things differently. All have set up with a clear mission, but not to directly compete with the more established consultancies.
One of StockWell’s founders Tim Burt, senses that in-house capability has matured and got far more sophisticated, meaning a very different type of service is needed. In the current environment of heightened business anxiety, high level strategic advice is required to both promote and protect, not least because the media and other audiences are finding it hard to distinguish between companies. In agreement with this, Jonathan Clair of Newgate feels that the recession has made businesses of all sizes take communications more seriously than they ever did and they are not cutting back when it comes to protecting their reputation.
Many of StockWell’s clients are new to communications advisory and have bought into the service as it has been packaged in such a way that it is relevant to them. Echoing Tim’s sentiments, both Jonathan Clair founder of Newgate and Pendomer Partner, Ben Foster agree that demand has changed and clients of all sizes require a different sort of service that reflects the fast changing business and media landscape of today.
The overriding theme of all three businesses is flexibility and accessibility. All have an open approach to the sectors they cover, believing that the expert advice they offer is within communications and this transcends the importance of very specific industry knowledge. The disciplines they cover vary slightly. While all wholeheartedly retain media relations at the core of their offer, StockWell in particular embraces the digital scene, Pendomer has a financial/investor intelligence strand to their offer and Newgate integrate public affairs more markedly.
While it is too early in the day for most to plan opening offices overseas, all have a very international mindset and are not only looking after indigenous companies. Newgate have recently opened offices in Brussels and Frankfurt.
It is also interesting to note the recent launch of Asset Management Specialist, Fortuna Management, set up by Skandia’s ex Head of PR John Morgan. Similarly Morgan sees opportunity due to growth specifically within the fund management sector stating, “The City of London is at the epicentre of a growing €5,900bn European funds’ business with new asset managers from around the world seeking to make their voices heard in a crowded market place".
So what does this mean for the industry moving forward? In the current economic climate, Burt, Clair and Foster all agree that being small, nimble and able to respond to change at speed is an advantage. This doesn’t however mean there is no place for the larger established firms with a global presence and sophisticated offer, simply that the playing field has grown.
In short, the future is looking bright for communications, more choice for the ever growing list of clients, plus a greater variety of career paths and opportunities for communications professionals, present and future.
If you are thinking about a change of direction in 2013 we’d love to hear from you. Email Melissa@the-works.co.uk