Corporate reputation management consultancy
One of the major sources of client dissatisfaction with public relations consultancies is their occasional employment of “bait and switch” tactics: featuring star consultants during the new business process, only to have them vanish once an account is secured. When Chris Genasi, former global director of strategy for Weber Shandwick and current president of the U.K.’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations, launched his own firm two years ago he pledged to eschew the practice: every account is Eloqui is managed on a day-to-day basis by a senior consultant.
The first prerequisite for success with such an approach is to build a team of senior counselors, and Genasi—who was also director of the European corporate practice at Weber Shandwick and is author of the book “Winning Reputations”—was joined from day one by partner Joanne Milroy, a former journalist and Weber Shandwick alumna who specializes in crisis and issues management, and by chairman Richard Sermon, a founding director of Shandwick who also served as public relations advisor to Goldman Sachs International. Since then, they have been joined by Sara Cruz, director, who joined from Citigate, and Anna Wharton, account director, who joined from QBO Bell Pottinger. Eight of the firm’s 11 people have at least eight years professional experience.
The other necessity is a solid methodology, and Eloqui has its own creative approach, which Genasi describes as “the creative communication of strategy” that draws on 34 different creative thinking techniques and combines them with a planning and evaluation platform called “Response Management,” which seeks to develop communications strategies that connect with multiple stakeholders—employees, customers, shareholders, policy makers, opinion leaders, and communities—and to ensure that public relations results link to business strategies.
It’s an approach that clearly resonates with major corporate clients more used to dealing with large multinational consultancies. One of Eloqui’s first business successes was General Electric, which hired the firm to handle a corporate reputation assignment and soon expanded the brief to include four divisions. And this summer, Eloqui handled the introduction in Europe of GE’s new “Ecomagination” strategy. Since then, the firm has added big names such as BMW (for a study examining the automaker’s economic impact in the U.K.), L’Oreal, Ernst & Young, the British Library, the Disability Rights Commission (a media relations assignment that expanded to include strategy development, public affairs, consumer marketing and more), the Countryside Agency, the Commission for Racial Equality and Visa Europe.
The firm recently joined the Pinnacle network of international public relations firms.