PR LEAGUE TABLES: Top 50 consumer audience - As more brands look for innovative ways to raise their profile and put a strong message across to consumers, PR strategies play a greater role. Here we look at general consultants and specialist sectors

Fifty PR companies claim to obtain at least pounds 500,000 of income from targeting the consumer, which goes some way to explaining the importance of this area to the industry.

Fifty PR companies claim to obtain at least pounds 500,000 of

income from targeting the consumer, which goes some way to explaining

the importance of this area to the industry.

We have divided the business up in several ways, with a ranking of

companies specialising in consumer communications in general, and

separate industry tables on packaged goods, services (other than

financial), fashion and beauty, and entertainment, travel and


Hill & Knowlton, besides being one of the industry’s giants, is more

consumer focused than most of the generalists. With 50% of its income

derived from this sector, and with a client list that includes Walkers,

Kellogg, Vauxhall, B&Q and Channel 4, it is hardly surprising to see

that it tops three of these tables.

Consumer PR is a particularly lively sector. ’You could say it has

really grown up,’ says Charles Barker’s creative director, Steve

Gebbett. ’There’s now a premium placed on creativity, responsiveness and

measurement. Integration is also in full flow everywhere, with clients

running more joint meetings for their advertising, sales promotion,

market research and PR agencies. We were delighted, for instance, to

work with three other agencies on the Lloyds TSB Five Nations rugby


Fresh opportunities to gain brand exposure are arising, claims Gebbett,

citing a cover-mounted sample of the Fuse countline bar with Loaded, a

week-long competition on GMTV to give away a house, and British

Midland’s sponsorship of The Times crossword.

Marketing interviewed three other leading consumer PR specialists to

identify more key trends.

Keith Simpson is managing director of Nexus Choat, the product of a

recent merger between two food and drink specialists. The deal has put

the combined operation in eighth place overall in consumer PR and in

fourth place in the packaged goods table. The objective says Simpson, is

to be number one.

’We already work with some fabulous brands, such as McVitie’s,

Sharwood’s, Tropicana, Muller Yoghurt and Scottish Courage,’ he says.

’Specialisation is very important. We have quality contacts with every

national food and drink programme, and with the specialist writers.

’The fact that we also work on the generic side for British fruit and

poultry means that media contacts are very happy to talk to us about

their plans, and opportunities are networked around the office. That is

what specialisation gives us: a fast-track.

Strong spirits

’Conflict of interest is a fact of life, but there are areas of food and

drink, such as bread and breakfast cereals, where we don’t currently

have a client. We’re strong in beer and whisky, but we don’t do much in

wine. So we believe there is still an awful lot to go for. Size is

important; clients are looking for resources.’

A somewhat different company is Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO subsidiary

Freud Communications, whose clients range from Pepsi to BT and Elida

Faberge to the Playboy Channel. The acquisition of Aurelia last year

strengthened its interest in luxury goods.

’I think the marketplace is changing,’ says chairman Matthew Freud.

’More and more brands are beginning to explore how they can add value to

their spend, and one of the easiest ways is through effective,

integrated PR.

’Traditionally, many people would say their products were not

interesting editorially, and therefore they would not spend much on PR.

Now they want to know how to make their products interesting. Or they’ll

say that even if the products aren’t exactly rivetting, the marketing


’Thus we have seen a huge increase in the marketing of marketing. For

us, that includes campaigns like Pizza Hut, or BT taking people on a

reunion holiday, which got huge coverage.’

At the same time, says Freud, the media are beginning to realise the

value of the exposure that they give to brands, and that is making some

traditional techniques more difficult.

The traditional photocall, involving a celebrity wearing a baseball hat

with a logo and baskets of product, was once a sure-fire mechanism that

could almost guarantee coverage in half a dozen tabloids.

Now a much more creative approach is required and any personality used

has to be in the news for other reasons.

’Perhaps what differentiates us is that we think more like journalists

and less like PR people. It means being very sensitive to the editorial

agenda. We start from a different standpoint - what will the media buy -

and then relate it back,’ says Freud.

There are some echoes of this view in the comments of another

fast-rising specialist, Jackie Cooper PR, but also some points of


This is another agency that has made an art out of exploiting the

publicity potential in clients’ advertising campaigns, like those for

Wonderbra, Pretty Polly and Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC).

The first, for Wonderbra, famously won both PR and advertising

effectiveness awards for the extra leverage that media coverage gave to

a very limited advertising budget. The most recent, for CWC, has

similarly made a media story out of the strong poster attack on BT

devised by Rapier.

’We have always prided ourselves on being marketing-led,’ says managing

director Robert Phillips. ’Public relations has to be fully integrated

with the marketing team, and in some areas will help to drive the

marketing strategy. It comes down to having a business brain.

’We’ve grown entirely by word of mouth. It is certainly not a case of us

being out in the marketplace, flogging consumer PR. People come to us

because of the campaigns we run. In the consumer area, clients are

looking for high-energy campaigns and creativity tempered by


Effectiveness is a constant theme in the sector. That frequently means

not just did the idea work, but did it do so cost-effectively? And that

brings evaluation into the equation.

Confidence building

Fishburn Hedges is a sister agency to Freud in the Abbott Mead Vickers

BBDO empire and crops up here in the table for consumer services. Dale

Fishburn, one of the founding directors, says that further progress for

public relations ’is still cramped by lack of investment in measurement

and evaluation systems that carry confidence’.

Worth quoting here, too, is Belinda Dodd of Lawson Dodd. This

medium-sized agency just misses the cut-off point for packaged goods

specialists, but nevertheless earns 45% of its money in that sector,

from clients such as Elida Faberge and Lavazza.

’Two things we could really do with learning from the advertising

industry are how to resolve the evaluation issue and how to get more

clients to believe that bigger budgets will achieve more,’ says


A lot of issues become related here. Improved effectiveness can stem

from honing the communications message as a result of better

understanding of the consumer. But are clients prepared to pick up the

bill for a planning function, in the way that they do for their

advertising programmes?

Two agencies which believe this is the way forward are Manning Selvage &

Lee, and Cohn & Wolfe - both, incidentally, ad agency subsidiaries.

’We have been able to prove this year that serious planning is no longer

restricted to ad agencies, and have won at least two major accounts

primarily on the strength of our planning insight,’ says Cohn & Wolfe

managing director Martin Thomas.

’There is no reason why PR agencies shouldn’t be using all of the

planning data that is available to the ad industry. In addition, we have

commissioned our own consumer focus groups, and created a video vox pop

product, VideoVox, to give clients an insight into a particular target

group. We have hired a former Henley Centre director, Jim Murphy, to

boost our credentials in the area,’ says Thomas.

For much of this article we have focused on the bigger consumer


Worth noting is the fact that there are several smaller players, often

with their own angle on consumer marketing.

One is Jane Howard PR, unique in winning two gold awards, for Diamond

White and Gay Pride, in the inaugural PRCA/Marketing PR Effectiveness

Awards, published last week (Marketing, May 14).

Healthy appetite

Mulcaster PR & Marketing specialises mainly in drinks, although also

some food. ’The old maxim ’large enough to cope, small enough to care’

still holds true,’ insists managing director Tan Harrington.

’We select clients with products where taste, flavour and character are

the prime criteria: fine wines, ’slow’ food, aged whiskies and cask

ales. These criteria are becoming more important to consumers and

retailers alike.’

Similarly, Elizabeth Hindmarch PR is focused entirely on PR in two

areas: fashion and beauty, and consumer durables. Much of the company’s

success, argues founder Elizabeth Hindmarch, is due to its lifestyle

trends approach.

In what could be seen as another approach to the planning question, it

gathers intelligence from a variety of lifestyle experts to plot

consumer trends and relates them to its clients’ products, ’to provide a

contextual springboard for media coverage, and a competitive edge’.


Rk  Agency                                Income, 1997       Consumer

                                                pounds         pounds

1   Hill & Knowlton                         18,753,000      9,752,000

2   Shandwick UK                            23,861,000      5,727,000

3   Freud Communications                     5,504,000      5,174,000

4   Countrywide Porter Novelli              17,039,000      3,578,000

5   Charles Barker BSMG                      6,841,000      3,215,000

6   Biss Lancaster                           6,355,000      2,669,000

7   Jackie Cooper PR                         2,655,000      2,655,000

8   Nexus Choat                              3,286,000      2,629,000

9   Edelman Public Relations Worldwide       7,127,000      2,423,000

10  Cohn & Wolfe                             4,188,000      2,345,000

11  Harrison Cowley                          3,801,000      2,281,000

12  Manning Selvage & Lee                    3,738,000      2,243,000

13  The Grayling Group                       6,941,000      2,082,000

14  Attenborough Associates                  1,646,000      1,646,000

15  MacLaurin Group                          2,703,000      1,595,000

16  Richmond Towers                          3,980,000      1,592,000

17  Consolidated Communications              2,596,000      1,558,000

18  QBO - The Quentin Bell Organisation      3,030,000      1,515,000

19  Key Communications                       3,763,000      1,505,000

20  Holmes & Marchant Group                  3,520,000      1,478,000

21  The Red Consultancy                      2,412,000      1,447,000

22  The Ansdell Group                        3,224,000      1,386,000

23  Munro & Forster Communications           2,065,000      1,342,000

24  Scope Ketchum Communications             5,129,000      1,334,000

25  The Shire Hall Group                     4,167,000      1,250,000

26  Craigie Taylor                           1,625,000      1,219,000

27  Text 100                                 6,182,000      1,175,000

28  GCI Group London                         4,854,000      1,116,000

29  Harvard Public Relations                 4,314,000      1,079,000

30  Band & Brown Communications              1,811,000      1,068,000

31  Lexis Public Relations                   2,253,000      1,036,000

32  Staniforth Public Relations              1,910,000        955,000

33  BMA Communications                       1,407,000        929,000

34  Communique Public Relations              1,761,000        881,000

35  The Leedex Group                         1,830,000        878,000

36  Fleishman-Hillard UK                     2,233,000        849,000

37  Camron Public Relations                    883,000        839,000

38  Jane Howard PR                             837,000        837,000

39  Weber Public Relations Worldwide        10,417,000        833,000

40  Kable Public Relations                     798,000        798,000

41  Mulcaster PR & Marketing                   810,000        729,000

42  Stephanie Churchill PR                     731,000        694,000

43  Ptarmigan Consultants                      804,000        643,000

44  Firefly Communications                   3,310,000        629,000

45  CPR Worldwide (Complete Pharma)          1,566,000        626,000

46  BRAHM Public Relations                   2,000,000        600,000

47  Infopress                                1,367,000        574,000

48  Greenlines Healthcare Communications     1,103,000        552,000

49  Herald Communications                    1,188,000        546,000

50  Nelson Bostock Communications              865,000        519,000


Rk  Agency                                Income, 1997       Packaged

                                                pounds          goods


1   Hill & Knowlton                         18,753,000      6,001,000

2   Richmond Towers                          3,980,000      3,582,000

3   Shandwick UK                            23,861,000      3,102,000

4   Nexus Choat                              3,286,000      2,629,000

5   Countrywide Porter Novelli              17,039,000      2,556,000

6   Biss Lancaster                           6,355,000      2,224,000

7   Freud Communications                     5,504,000      2,202,000

8   Scope Ketchum Communications             5,129,000      1,693,000

9   The Ansdell Group                        3,224,000      1,290,000

10  Jackie Cooper PR                         2,655,000      1,221,000

11  The Grayling Group                       6,941,000      1,180,000

12  Holmes & Marchant Group                  3,520,000      1,126,000

13  Cohn & Wolfe                             4,188,000      1,089,000

14  Edelman Public Relations Worldwide       7,127,000      1,069,000

15  Dewe Rogerson                            9,797,000        980,000

16  Key Communications                       3,763,000        978,000

17  Staniforth Public Relations              1,910,000        860,000

18  Mulcaster PR & Marketing                   810,000        810,000

19  Charles Barker BSMG                      6,841,000        753,000

20  The Leedex Group                         1,830,000        695,000

21  Harrison Cowley                          3,801,000        608,000

22  Citigate                                11,433,000        572,000

23  BMA Communications                       1,407,000        563,000

24  Weber Public Relations Worldwide        10,417,000        521,000

25  Consolidated Communications              2,596,000        519,000

26  Jane Howard PR                             837,000        502,000

27  BRAHM Public Relations                   2,000,000        500,000

28  The Red Consultancy                      2,412,000        458,000

29  Lexis Public Relations                   2,253,000        451,000

30  Kable Public Relations                     798,000        440,000

31  Munro & Forster Communications           2,065,000        413,000

32  Manning Selvage & Lee                    3,738,000        411,000

33  Fleishman-Hillard UK                     2,233,000        402,000

34  Attenborough Associates                  1,646,000        395,000

35= QBO - The Quentin Bell Organisation      3,030,000        394,000

35= Willoughby Public Relations                656,000        394,000

37  GCI Group London                         4,854,000        388,000

38  The PR Connection                          560,000        381,000

39  Nelson Bostock Communications              865,000        346,000

40  Infopress                                1,367,000        342,000


Rk  Agency                                Income, 1997          Other

                                                pounds       consumer



1   Hill & Knowlton                         18,753,000      1,500,000

2   Countrywide Porter Novelli              17,039,000      1,363,000

3   Weber Public Relations Worldwide        10,417,000      1,354,000

4   Freud Communications                     5,504,000      1,266,000

5   Citigate                                11,433,000      1,143,000

6   Shandwick UK                            23,861,000        954,000

7   Harrison Cowley                          3,801,000        874,000

8   Consolidated Communications              2,596,000        779,000

9   Manning Selvage & Lee                    3,738,000        710,000

10  Fishburn Hedges                          4,560,000        593,000

11  The Grayling Group                       6,941,000        555,000

12  Camron Public Relations                    883,000        530,000

13  Key Communications                       3,763,000        527,000

14  Jackie Cooper PR                         2,655,000        478,000

15  Scope Ketchum Communications             5,129,000        462,000

16  QBO - The Quentin Bell Organisation      3,030,000        455,000

17  The Red Consultancy                      2,412,000        410,000

18  BRAHM Public Relations                   2,000,000        400,000

19  Charles Barker BSMG                      6,841,000        342,000

20  Condor PR                                  514,000        332,000

21  Barkers PR (Birmingham and Scotland)     1,997,000        315,000

22  Fleishman-Hillard UK                     2,233,000        313,000

23  Herald Communications                    1,188,000        309,000

24  Dewe Rogerson                            9,797,000        294,000

25  Elizabeth Hindmarch PR                     663,000        285,000


Rk  Agency                                Income, 1997       Fashion,

                                                pounds         beauty


1   Shandwick UK                            23,861,000      2,386,000

2   Jackie Cooper PR                         2,655,000        850,000

3   Attenborough Associates                  1,646,000        823,000

4   Stephanie Churchill PR                     731,000        731,000

5   Freud Communications                     5,504,000        660,000

6   Charles Barker BSMG                      6,841,000        547,000

7   BMA Communications                       1,407,000        436,000

8   Cohn & Wolfe                             4,188,000        419,000

9   Lexis Public Relations                   2,253,000        406,000

10  Elizabeth Hindmarch PR                     663,000        332,000

11  Camron Public Relations                    883,000        309,000

12  GCI Group London                         4,854,000        291,000

13  The Red Consultancy                      2,412,000        289,000

14  Munro & Forster Communications           2,065,000        207,000

15  Harrison Cowley                          3,801,000        190,000


Rk  Agency                                Income, 1997        Travel,

                                                pounds         enter-




1   Citigate                                11,433,000      1,715,000

2   Shandwick UK                            23,861,000      1,670,000

3   MacLaurin Group                          2,703,000      1,292,000

4   Countrywide Porter Novelli              17,039,000      1,193,000

5   Freud Communications                     5,504,000        936,000

6   Biss Lancaster                           6,355,000        826,000

7   Hill & Knowlton                         18,753,000        750,000

8   Harvard Public Relations                 4,314,000        733,000

9   Charles Barker BSMG                      6,841,000        684,000

10  The Ansdell Group                        3,224,000        677,000

11  Craigie Taylor                           1,625,000        520,000

12= Consolidated Communications              2,596,000        519,000

12= College Hill Associates                  4,322,000        519,000


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