When the former icas became Publicasity two years ago, it changed more than its name. The firm underwent a dramatic reengineering as the result of a partial management buyout that saw the departure of co-founder Anne Layton and the elevation of two 10-year agency veterans, Emma Wright and Zoe Ward-Waring to managing director and deputy managing director respectively, working alongside remaining founder Carl Courtney to reposition the firm—once focused on industrial clients, it now does most of its work with consumer brands—to reengineer its approach (a six-step process of investigation, insights, strategy, tactics, results, measurement), and to introduce a guarantee to deliver pre-agreed results against pre-agreed metrics.
Publicasity also relocated its headquarters from Hertfordshire to London, where its offices overlook bustling Covent Garden market; restructured its practice structure, with groups focusing on consumer, FMCG and business-to-business, and corporate accounts, supplemented this year with consumer tech and travel groups; expanded a suite of services that already includes product placement, event management and sponsorship in addition to earned media to include a range of digital and social media offerings, appointing David Phillips to lead the newly rebranded Digicasity unit; and introduced that guarantee, which can mean anything from specific media results to evaluation against other key performance indicators.
So for client Warburton’s, for example, Publicasity delivered 80 percent share of voice and breakthroughs with Waitrose and Asda through a campaign that included face-to-face meeting with key media; for United Biscuits, the firm put together a trade media programme that delivered a reach of 4.2 million and five times return on investment. Highlights of the past 12 months included a corporate social responsibility campaign for Danone Waters; a digital campaign for Coca Cola Europe; a major media campaign for London Air Ambulances; crisis Planning for Alltech; and consumer launches for Yahoo! The firm also handled experiential assignments for United Biscuits.
Just as important, the firm put new emphasis on its own culture, running more than 60 training courses last year, creating an internal “film festival” to capture what employees like best about working for the firm, declaring July 4 as its own “bank holiday” to celebrate its independence, and applying the same rigorous measurement to both employee and client satisfaction as it does to evaluating results. The payoff came in short order. The firm’s “internal happiness score” hit an impressive 97 percent last year, which in turn led to 85 percent client satisfaction scores.
Publicasity enjoyed healthy growth in 2007, ending the year up 17 percent—the second year of solid double digit growth since its restructuring and rebranding—with fees of around £3.2 million. There was new business from leading brands such as Danone, Innocent, London Air Ambulance, National Boat Show, McVities Cake Company, Travis Perkins, Village Hotels, Wolfblass & Pink Sparkling wines and in 2008 from SMEG, Yahoo!, Victorinox and Standard Brands. The firm also added management strength: Bruce Dodworth, formerly managing director at Bite, joined to head up the insights and planning division; Martin Kyran was named head of brand development; and Foo Dowling joined as head of design.
Publicasity is a member of Public Relations Organisation International, probably the best of the independent PR firm networks operating across