Kavanagh Communications
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Kavanagh Communications

In a market such as the U.K., which supports hundreds of marketing-oriented public relations firms, one way to stand out is to focus with laser-like precision on a single segment of the market.

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Consumer PR consultancy specializing in the retail sector

In a market such as the U.K., which supports hundreds of marketing-oriented public relations firms, one way to stand out is to focus with laser-like precision on a single segment of the market. That’s the strategy Kavanagh Communications has pursued, establishing itself as the PR industry’s foremost authority on the retail sector. Founder Anne Kavanagh is a veteran of the retail world, having worked in house at Dairy Crest and counselled a range of retail clients for more than a decade, including BAA, which has earned itself a reputation as an innovator in the retail category; director Jane Sell is a veteran of Sainsbury’s who has been with Kavanagh for four years.

But the whole firm seeks to immerse itself in the retail sector. There’s a retail advisory panel—a network of individuals with expertise in different aspects of the business—a media intelligence unit that monitors trends and issues, and Kavanagh is a participant in the British Retail Consortium’s industry steering groups. The firm even moved its headquarters to Guildford, the U.K.’s leading test market for retailers. And Kavanagh’s head of market and consumer insight Steve Gotham joined from Verdict UK, a leading supplier of retail research and analysis, and now leads an effort aimed at ensuring Kavanagh understands its clients’ businesses almost as well as they do.

The knowledge and insight Gotham’s group delivers feeds into a process the firm calls SPACE (strategy, planning, account management, creative, evaluation) and helps design programmes that impact the bottom line, typically by driving sales—although the firm handles employee communications and crisis management assignments as well as marketing-related activity such as media relations, promotions, and sponsorships. Interesting assignments over the past 12 months included an expansion of the firm’s work for Aldi to include support for its graduate recruitment efforts; ongoing efforts to position BAA’s retail operations;  and several projects designed to market the shopping choices available in town centres.

Established in 1998, Kavanagh now has 15 people and fee income of around £1 million, with a client list that includes some of the biggest names in retail: Aldi, BAA Retail, Cadbury, and World Duty Free. New additions over the past 12 months included Habitat (for store launches and more); Argos (for pre-Christmas publicity); Santeau, a new functional food product (for consumer and trade PR); and Visual Philosophy, a high-end greeting cards and stationery company.

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