Focus PR is a consumer public relations firm with considerable strength in the fashion and beauty category, which makes it all the more startling when its principals declare: “We hate the fluffy end of PR.” Because if there’s one sector cynics still associate with superficiality over substance, it’s the fashion world.
But spend a little time with the three directors of Focus—the name is no accident—and it becomes apparent that even if some of the products they promote are all about style, their brand of public relations is all about delivering meaningful top and bottom line results for clients—and doing so ethically and with integrity. Focus founder and managing director Hilary Meacham is a veteran of Burson-Marsteller (where she ran the Sainsbury account) and Sara Pearson Associates and sits on the PRCA’s Best Practices committee; director Sally Martin is a pharmacologist by training and has broad experience in consumer lifestyle public relations; and director Sara Balme ran her own restaurant business before joining Focus in 1996.
The firm has expertise in several industry sectors, most notably in food and beverage, where the firm got its start, and luxury and lifestyle products. In recent years it has expanded into consumer technology (via the acquisition of specialist boutique Trilogy Communications); arts and entertainment (buying Silk PR); and fashion and beauty (acquiring Strawberry PR in the first half of 2006). It now has 32 professionals working across those practice areas, and turnover of around £3 million. This year has been a period of consolidation following strong 33 percent growth in 2007.
The firm continues to work with longstanding clients such as Piaggio, Cadbury, Pernod Ricard and Beam Global, with new business coming through the acquisitions of Strawberry and Trilogy as well as a host of new project assignments from existing clients. The firm was awarded a new three-year contract by Piaggio in the spring of 2007, while new clients included a couple of web-based companies (leading European online retailer vente-privee.com and health and wellbeing community Wahanda.com) and the launch of the new Lotus Evora.
The latter provide Focus with one of its most interesting assignments of the past year, as it put together a stealth experiential marketing campaign to find “True Character in a Faceless World,” sending out actors in “faceless” masks to celebrity events from Wimbledon to Henley to Elton John’s celebrity-laden ball to generate advance buzz. Other highlights included Easter publicity for Cadbury’s Creme Eggs; a new brand positioning for Playtex MySize bras; and several campaigns for Beam Global including “Cockburn’s at