Spada was started in 1994, but for a long time founder Gavin Ingham Brooke, whose background included journalism, publishing and teaching as well as agency work and who began working with law firms in the early 90s, shortly after the relaxation of restrictions that had severely limited law firm marketing, resisted describing his consultancy as a public relations firm. Spada offered a variety of services, from marketing audits and strategy to visual communications to media relations, to a highly specialized client base consisting primarily of law firms and property professionals. The firm hired practitioners from diverse backgrounds—its newest hire, Andrew Gregory, was until 2001 assistant professor of classics and ancient history at Yale University—and worked on assignments that range from business development to crisis communications to organizational change, such as helping the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors with its Agenda for Change initiative.
The firm had always offered public relations services as part of a broader array of services, and over the past four or five years has come to focus increasingly on issues-driven PR, with a particular expertise in helping clients reach top tier business and broadcast media (The Financial Times is a favoured target for many clients). Most of that work involves helping professional service firms tell their stories and showcase their expertise, but Spada also has experience in litigation support—a highlight of last year was its work for Cohen Millstein Hausfield & Toll in its price fixing lawsuit against British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
Much of that work is supported by a new in-house research team that provides valuable data for clients and also serves as the source of much of Spada’s own thought leadership activity, the most notable recent example of which is a report on how professional services can take advantage of web 2.0 opportunities and minimize the threats it poses.
Spada has a team of about 16 and generated fees last year of around £1.6 million, with new business highlights including an appointment to handle the media relations brief for the Energy Centre for Sustainable Communities, which provides sustainable energy advice to public and private sector organisations. But the majority of the firm’s clients are professional services firms in fields such as law and accounting, from giant international players such as Jones Day to mid-sized operators to Withers, Ingham Brook’s first client, and still on the firm’s roster today. The firm also has strength in real estate and in the financial arena, for clients ranging from actuaries to asset management companies.
While the primary focus of the firm’s work is domestic, it does have international relationships and has worked closely with Jaffe Associates and Levick Strategic Communications, two of the leading professional service firm PR specialists in the