PR LEAGUE TABLES: Wider approach to staff relations - Internal comms specialists are losing out as more general PR agencies teach how branding begins at home

There’s a battle going on to catch the ear of the workers. The management theorists have woken up to the benefits of a motivated, informed workforce, illustrated in the marketing arena by the recognition that ’off-message’ staff can undermine a brand, especially in the service sectors.

There’s a battle going on to catch the ear of the workers. The

management theorists have woken up to the benefits of a motivated,

informed workforce, illustrated in the marketing arena by the

recognition that ’off-message’ staff can undermine a brand, especially

in the service sectors.

Traditionally, this has been the territory of specialist internal

communications consultants, such as The Marketing & Communications

Agency and Smythe Dorward Lambert, or brand consultancies such as the

Added Value Company.

But some of the leading PR networks have been taking a greater interest

in internal communications. And they’re tending to come at it from a

rather broader perspective. Corporate reputation is built on the

perceptions of a number of key audiences, including staff, government,

investors, suppliers and customers, and society at large.

Shandwick has invested heavily in this area, working with leading

business schools to develop the theory of reputation management.

At the end of March, it launched a new unit specialising in internal

communications and change management. ’Companies are recognising that

they cannot communicate the changes they are making externally if they

haven’t got their own people on board,’ says deputy chief executive

Michael Murphy.

Hill & Knowlton is also investing in internal communications, and has

brought in some specialist skills. Chairman David McLaren says there are

a number of entry points into the market, with some clients requesting

it as part of the development of their online operations, or as an

element in a wider communications programme.

Some credit is due also to Burson-Marsteller. Although it has not

provided a breakdown of its figures this year, and so isn’t featured in

the table, it was probably the first to establish a change management

and internal communications unit.

Colin Kent, chairman of Key Communications, a top 20 PR agency which

specialises more than most of its rivals on internal communications,

believes the pace is accelerating partly because of the growing number

of mergers and acquisitions taking place, which are often on an

international scale.

’The new CEO may want to communicate all his ideas, but it is not enough

to stand up and make a speech - you need a planned programme of

communications,’ he says.

’We’re also encouraging clients to take a leaf out of Ford’s book. Its

president is to e-mail 100,000 employees every week to keep them

informed on what’s happening in the market. It’s a wonderful way to get

people to think about their role in the company and how it relates to

the bigger picture.’


Rank  Agency                        Income 1999          Intermal

                                       (pounds)             Comms

1     Countrywide Porter Novelli     19,019,000         1,902,000

2     Shandwick International        25,924,000         1,555,000

3     Grayling Group                  8,794,000         1,495,000

4     Key Communications              6,061,000           909,000

5     Hill & Knowlton (UK)           25,707,000           720,000

6     GCI/APCO                       12,111,000           606,000

7     Barkers Public Relations        2,209,000           508,000

8     BSMG Worldwide (UK)             9,821,000           393,000

9     Brahm Public Relations          2,108,000           316,000

10    Fishburn Hedges                 7,803,000           312,000

11    Weber PR Worldwide              9,887,000           297,000

12=   The Shire Hall Group            5,903,000           295,000

12=   Beattie Media                   5,900,000           295,000

14    Cohn & Wolfe                    6,309,000           252,000

15    Richmond Towers                 4,310,000           216,000


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