Consumer, business-to-business and corporate consultancy
Public Relations Organisation International is probably the best of the independent PR firm networks operating across Europe: in most markets, its partners tend to be the market leaders in terms of both size and reputation. But when it came to the U.K., the network opted for quality over critical mass by choosing icas, which is not the biggest independent in the market—with revenues of a little over £2 million it ranks in the top 50 in the PR Week league table—but distinguishes itself by its culture and its creativity.
icas founders Carl Courtney and Anne Layton emphasize five “points of pride” that serve to foster a distinctive culture: a focus on relationships with the clients who pay the bills and clients in the media; creativity tailored to support brand and business objectives; a focus on people that leads to impressive staff retention; an emphasis on evaluation against business and communications objectives; and a management style based on HBDI (Herrman Brain Dominance Instrument) testing aimed to illustrate and explain the way different people prefer to think, learn, communicate and make decisions.
The firm enjoyed very healthy 10 percent growth in 2004, and matched that through the first six months of 2005, with new business coming from clients such as Appletiser, Best Direct, Packard Bell, ORAFTI, Pickfords and Tyco Fire & Security, many of them turning to icas for pan-European PR support, either through PROI or through its own multilingual, multicultural capabilities. They joins a client list that includes consumer brands such as Crown Paints, John Dickinson, Loewe, Muraspec, Orlando Tourism, Packard Bell, Pickfords and Wrigley and business-to-business companies including Alcan, BioRad, Honeywell, IIR, Imperial Tobacco, Lutron, Securitas, Select, SIRVA, Tyco Fire & Security, Warburtons and Wincanton.
In the consumer space, the firm launched a major initiative—Crown Colour Week—for the Akzo Nobel brand Crown Paints, creating an opportunity for the company to get close to its retailers and establish discreet promotional strategies, lighting up several landmark buildings and conducting national research to find the nation’s favourite colour (sky blue). In the B2B arena, new client Warburtons launched a market report in the bakery sector, researched, written, designed and produced by icas and generating in-depth media coverage.
In addition to managing director Courtney and deputy MD Layton, the firm’s senior team include Emma Wright, the third board director and leader of the firm’s Hertfordshire head office; Zoë Ward-Waring, who is responsible for the London office and heads up the consumer business; and finance director Brendan Roche.