Multi-specialist with strong regional network
The U.K. has perhaps the strongest, most competitive national media of any country in the world, but it also has a huge number of regional and local newspapers with loyal, committed readers, sometimes ignored by the large London-based agencies. But Beattie Communications, with its Scottish origins and a network of offices (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Falkirk, London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds) has eyes and ears on the ground in most major markets, a fact that makes it an ideal consultancy partner for clients with a network of shops, offices, or factories dotted throughout the country and the need for local or regional coverage.
Beattie is one of the U.K.’s largest public relations firms, having clinched a place in PR Week’s top 10 prior to its acquisition and subsequent withdrawal from the league table. It provides a broad array of services, including corporate reputation management, corporate social responsibility, employee communications (a major growth area), and through its City office investor relations, but it is unabashed about its primary focus on media relations—“I never met a client who didn’t want to get into or be kept out of The Financial Times,” says Gordon Beattie—and at least half the firm’s people are former journalists. (The firm was launched in 1987, after Beattie’s previous company—a news agency—found itself taking on corporate clients in addition to its work for The FT, The Sun, and the BBC.)
Not surprisingly, the culture resembles that of a newsroom rather than a corporate PR firm, especially in its Falkirk headquarters, where Beattie has what it calls a “media village,” an operation that includes a media training facility, a design studio, and a new media team. The payoff? Beattie has “consistently secured quality media coverage… and impressed us with their proactive approach,” says client Lambert Smith Hampton. Adds a representative of Hewlett-Packard, “I’ve never been to a press event and been unsure of what to say or how the journalist might react to our news because their briefings are so thorough.”
The firm has experience across several sectors, including consumer and retail; employee communications; energy and oil; financial and investor relations; IT and telecom; life sciences; property, construction and development; and a new food and drinks division. A relatively new practice group focusing on the automotive sector picked up one of the firm’s biggest new accounts of last year, DaimlerChrysler. Other significant wins included GlaxoSmithKline, T-Mobile and Computer Sciences Corporation as Beattie added £1.5 million of new business in the first half of 2005, more than compensating for the revenues the firm lost when it pulled out of the public sector in 2004.
Meanwhile, personnel changes last year saw new roles for several senior executives: Caroline Shepperson now runs the consumer team in London; Tim Blythe heads up the corporate practice; Brian Coleman-Smith is in charge of Beattie Financial; and Victoria Lamb was named to head the North of England operations. Interesting work included the formation of a boy band—with auditions across the U.K.—to support a television advertising campaign for Specsavers Opticians. The campaign paid extra dividends when a single by the group made it onto the charts.
Beattie belongs to the Worldcom network of independent public relations firms, and works with Worldcom partners when appropriate—although it has the freedom to put together a custom network if its Worldcom partners don’t have the requisite skill set. It has experience handling pan-European business in that way for several clients.