Corporate communications consultancy
Clients come to Bell Pottinger when their share price is falling, when corporate control is being challenged, employees are resisting change, government is considering regulation, and the media are showing no mercy. The firm’s reputation for handling high-profile, high-stakes issues means that it gets called in on some unusually interesting assignments, particularly those that require integrated solutions: employee communications, outreach to the City, and—with help from sister company Bell Pottinger Public Affairs—communications with policy markers and other opinion leaders.
Bell Pottinger Corporate & Financial was formed in January of 2004 by the merger of Bell Pottinger Financial and Bell Pottinger Consulting, in response to increase demand from clients looking for a complete corporate and financial communications solution. The firm has a staff of around 35, recruited from a variety of backgrounds—in-house corporate communications, fund management, equity analysis, journalism, politics, and management consultancy—and with expertise in financial public relations, investor relations, crisis management, branding, internal communications and positioning strategy.
On the financial side, the firm handles a wide range of transactions, including mergers and acquisitions and IPOs, and has a solid investor relations capability, with several former analysts on staff. On the corporate side, the firm provides 360-degree stakeholder communications programs, including internal change management; brand positioning, strategy and roll-out; issues and crisis management; and high-level media relations advice. So when vacuum maker Dyson was concerned about its media profile, it turned to BP to help improve its reputation; when Rockstar Games was in trouble over violence in its computer games, BP helped put the company’s side of the story; and when the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority started looking at the future of the nuclear industry in the U.K., it brought in BP to help educate the public about the process. The firm also saw an up tick in IPO work, with assignments for online gambling company 888.com, developer Taylor Woodrow
Tim Ryan, former director of corporate communications at NTL (the U.K.’s largest cable media and telecommunications company) and former managing director of Bell Pottinger Consultants, leads the firm with assistance deputy chairman Charles Cook—who joined after selling his own consulting firm to Bell Pottinger parent Chime earlier this year—and from a senior team of 10 directors, including former Daily Telegraph and Sun reporter Roger Carroll, who also served a stint as a speechwriter for Downing Street; newcomer Clare Cater, an AOCO veteran who joined this year; branding expert Colin Hatfield; former Serco Group director of communications Ben Woodford; Ann-Marie Wilkinson, who joined last year from Beattie and has worked on more than 30 IPOs.
Stephen Benzikie, former head of Edelman’s financial practice, was hired in the summer of 2005 to rebuild the firm’s City practice following the departure earlier in the year of a trio of senior executives. Bell Pottinger ranked 13th (in value) and 17th (in volume) in the mergermarket rankings for U.K. mergers and acquisitions in the first half of 2005.
The firm has experience working in more than 40 markets around the world, and a partner network that covers 25 countries.