Despite total business-to-business turnover remaining sluggish, many agencies had a successful year by working hard to grow existing work and attract new clients

Despite total business-to-business turnover remaining sluggish, many

agencies had a successful year by working hard to grow existing work and

attract new clients

Business-to-business is one of most challenging areas in PR. In 1995 the

top ten consultancies’ combined turnover from business-to-business work

was down by about 8% on 1994.

As Andrew Litchfield, managing director of Camargue, notes: ‘Business-

to-business is a tough and demanding segment of the PR sector. With few

exceptions, low budgets and high expectations are the norm. Our forward

strategy is based upon further growth; we need critical mass if we are

to compete successfully with the largest agencies for blue-chip


Nevertheless, Camargue, whose total turnover is made up of business-to-

business, bucked the trend and grew by almost 45%. It works with clients

such as Sainsbury’s and ICI. Litchfield puts this growth down to a

‘tenacious’ approach to new business.

However, he acknowledges there could be strong logic in some sort of

corporate marriage - ‘perhaps linking with an advertising agency or

management consultancy rather than another PR agency’.

He adds: ‘In the consumer PR market, Freud Communications seems to have

derived a considerable boost from its new position within the Abbott

Mead Vickers stable. We are looking to parallel this kind of


One of the perennial problems with this sector is definition. For

example, for the past two years Text 100 has entered this table rather

than technology. Its argument is that as technology becomes more

pervasive, the marketplace is taking on more general business-to-

business characteristics.

Roger Staton, managing director of Roger Staton Associates, presents

the dilemma: ‘What do I do? Tick ‘business-to-business’ and not be

included with the industry and technology consultancies we regard as our

main rivals? Or tick ‘information technology’ and be thought of as just

a computer consultancy?’ He opts for the description ‘industry and

technology consultancy’.

However it is defined, many consultancies had a good 1995 in business-

to-business terms. These included: Countrywide Communications, with

clients London Electricity and Girobank; Biss Lancaster, with Cray and

new client Nortel (the Norwegian telephone company); Richmond Towers,

with Campbell Distillers and Gallaher International; and The Reputation

Managers (formerly TRM Datanews), with Royal Mail and 3M.

TRM, which has pushed up its turnover by 60% to pounds 1.78m,

specialises in business-to-business. According to managing director

Stella Hitner: ‘While we had some significant new business wins, like

Securicor Communications and the Open University Business School, much

of the growth came from developing more business with existing clients.

We are encouraged by the trend, which seems increasingly to be toward

using specialist consultancies.’

1995 was also lucrative for The Quentin Bell Organisation. Not only did

it substantially grow its business with Norwich Union and Roche, says

managing director Trevor Morris, but the agency won clients such as the

Portman Group and the Business and Technology Education Council.

Morris notes that while QBO is pleased with its client retention and

growth, there is a tendency for client relationships to shorten. ‘One

figure I heard, showed that within the last 15 years the average

advertising agency/client relationship has fallen from seven to three

years,’ he says.

And that has implications for agencies: ‘This often means that it is our

long-serving consultants, rather than the client, who are the true

guardians of the brand,’ he adds.

Fleishman-Hillard UK continues its resurgence, with a 46% rise in

turnover, of which business-to-business accounts, from clients like UK

Paper and Hay Management Consultants, contributes just under a third.

Managing director Barry Legetter is decidedly bullish: ‘Our growth in

the last 12 months has opened a lot of eyes to the real potential of the

agency.’ However, he adds: ‘The type of growth we have achieved in a

year is a good reminder that to grow you need to worry constantly about

doing the simple things right.’

Carl Courtney, of ICAS Public Relations, where business-to-business

accounts bring in about half the pounds 1.45m turnover from PR,

highlights two of PR’s constant challenges: evaluation and recruitment.

He believes evaluation is now a major consideration for every client :

‘We have a system in place for all our clients, but it is interesting

that at pitch stage it is the one thing that really gets examined -

sometimes more than the budget or fee itself. I think without a credible

system it would be hard to win serious business.’

He also agrees with the general feeling that it is hard to find staff:

‘We feel we do our part by taking on graduate trainees and seriously

investing in training, but there is no doubt there is a shortage of good

people.’ He warns it could ‘slow the growth of the whole business down’.


Top 40 business-to-business PR


   Consultancy                  Turnover 1995    Business-to-business PR

                                   (pounds)               (pounds)

 1 Shandwick UK                   36,843,000             6,263,000

 2 Text 100 Group                  7,405,000             4,073,000

 3 Countrywide Communications     21,263,000             3,615,000

 4 Camargue                        3,003,000             3,003,000

 5 Biss Lancaster                 10,447,000             2,194,000

 6 Richmond Towers                 4,975,000             1,990,000

 7 The Reputation Managers         1,781,000             1,781,000

 8 The Quentin Bell Organisation   4,089,000             1,636,000

 9 GCI Group London                6,872,000             1,581,000

10 Burson-Marsteller              15,657,000             1,566,000

11 Cameron, Choat and Partners     4,676,000             1,543,000

12 Hill and Knowlton              20,025,000             1,001,000

13 Roger Staton Associates           995,000               995,000

14 Fleishman-Hillard               3,656,000               987,000

15 Quay West Communications          916,000               916,000

16 Harrison Cowley                 3,962,000               872,000

17 Richard Davies & Partners       1,078,000               862,000

18 Scope Communications Group      4,662,000               839,000

19 Key Communications              3,256,000               814,000

20 The Mistral Group               1,800,000               812,000

21 Communique Public Relations     1,760,000               810,000

22 Lexis Public Relations          2,092,000               795,000

23 Bryant Jackson Comms.             793,000               793,000

24 ICAS Public Relations           1,452,000               726,000

25 Consolidated Communications     2,853,000               713,000

26 The Grayling Group              6,764,000               676,000

27 Band & Brown Comms              1,642,000               657,000

28 Lansons Communications          1,898,000               626,000

29 Daniel J. Edelman               5,176,000               621,000

30 Staniforth Public Relations     1,939,000               582,000

31 Infopress                       1,934,000               580,000

32 Companycare PR                    959,000               575,000

33 Nexus PR                        1,377,000               565,000

34 Edson Evers                       830,000               540,000

35 Handel Communications           1,171,000               539,000

36 The Rowland Company             4,724,000               520,000

37 The AFL Deeson Partnership        652,000               489,000

38 Ludgate Group                   9,362,000               469,000

39 Landmark Corporate Comms.         901,000               451,000

40 Condor Public Relations           904,000               443,000



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