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Holmes Report
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Holmes Report

Founded in 1998, hanover is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year in a position of considerable strength and a mood of optimism. Having tripled in size over the past five years, the public affairs firm formerly known as Media Strategy made some major changes last year, including a new name (hanover), a reorganization of its management team (four new directors), and an ambitious growth strategy: setting out to become a top 30 U.K. firm within the next five years. Last year was another impressive step in the right direction, with growth of about 10 percent (on top of a 50 percent increase in 2006) lifting the firm into the top 65 in the PR Week League Table (and top 25 independents) with fee income of around £3.1 million.  

Managing director Charles Lewington, a former executive editor of the Daily Express and press secretary to John Major, is joined on the firm’s leadership team by Andrew Harrison, director and head of the healthcare practice, who was a previously a media spokesman at the Department of Health and also worked at healthcare consultancy Santé Communications; Sarah Richards, who spent seven years with Hill & Knowlton before joining hanover; and James Gurling, who joined from Hutchison Whampoa’s U.K. mobile phone company 3, where he was head of public policy and government affairs. New recruits in 2008 include the former head of communications at the National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence, Louise Fish, who joined as associate director, and account director Mark Saxon, whose background in pharmaceutical PR boosts the firm’s robust healthcare offer. 

The hanover team, now more than 30 strong, has a strong mix of political, corporate and media experience, and that’s reflected in the range of services the firm can offer. Public affairs is at the core, but many assignments blend issues management, corporate reputation, social responsibility and media outreach and draw on creative resources that include the design and production of annual reports, publications and a range of marketing collateral. Sector expertise includes healthcare—historically its greatest strength—financial and professional services; technology, media and telecommunications; defense; construction development and regeneration; consumer; and the public sector. The firm takes a project management approach to client assignments, uses a proprietary stakeholder mapping methodology to ensure comprehensive communications coverage and offering senior level strategic counsel combined with a commitment to flawless implementation and a strong commitment to delivering results against clients’ key performance indicators.  

The firm’s major clients include American Pharmaceutical Group, Celerant Consulting, NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, Hutchison 3G and Diageo, and there was new business from over the past 12 months from Sanofi-aventis, health and social services regulator Monitor, Saga, Unilever, Alliance Medical, and Schering-Plough. Interesting assignments included the Police Federation “Fair P(l)ay” campaign, culminating in the largest police demonstration ever and a government commitment to re-instate binding arbitration for police pay; a crisis campaign to manage the media onslaught when the parents of abducted four-year-old Madeliene McCann returned to the U.K.; launching Saga Zone, named by Which? magazine as fourth best social networking site; and convincing Ofcom to review its policy to make it easier for consumers to move mobile phone numbers across networks on behalf of client 3. 

Says Dr Allison Streetly, programme director for the NHS Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Screening Programme: “hanover is innovative in its thinking, providing creative ideas to reach groups that are traditionally harder to get to. It has nurtured strong partnerships with charities, regional sickle cell and thalassaemia centres, and many case studies achieving excellent media coverage which supports our aims to raise awareness of the conditions. We trust its work and know we’re getting the strategic thinking and evidence needed to get results and really make a difference.”

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