Since Michael Hayman returned to The Communications Group as chief executive after a couple of years working on global corporate accounts at Hill & Knowlton he has focused his considerable energies on turning the 22-year-old consultancy—for many years one of the U.K.’s best kept secrets—into an industry leader. The past 12 months saw a continuation of the firm’s investment in thought leadership (through a partnership with Stanford University and the development of a proprietary brand positioning model, and research into the link between personal and corporate reputation in partnership with Coutts & Co.); in sector expertise (particularly in the luxury goods and destination marketing arenas); and in people (through a leadership training programme in partnership with Sir Philip Trousdell, former commandant of Sandhurst). As a result, the firm enjoyed its second consecutive year of strong growth—fee income was up by close to 25 percent to more than £4 million—and ranked among the top 60 in the U.K., according to PR Week.
Hayman was quick to bring in a new generation of leadership to build on the tradition of senior-level counsel established by founder and chairman Maureen Smith, including managing director of corporate affairs Emma Johnson, formerly of Fishburn Hedges; and Sally Hawkins, formerly of The Red Consultancy, as managing director of marketing communications, and over the past 12 months he has added depth. Pippa Lawrence returned to TCG as managing director in the corporate division after holding senior positions at Euro RSCG Biss Lancaster and Lansons; Alexa Chopvsky, who served as chief of staff to First Lady Hilary Clinton, was named associate director in the corporate affairs practice; and Dorkas Erskine brought public affairs experience, having worked with Labour MPs and at EMI Group. There firm also promoted several key members of staff to focus on core market segments such as strategic marketing (Charlotte Hastings), lifestyle (Natasha Behrouz), luxury (Caroline Parrish), brand positioning (Tom Nutt), and destination (Rebecca Glaze). The firm has engaged PR training firm Pinnacle to create and run a customized training programme, with courses ranging from media relations and online PR to new business pitching and profitable account management.
The investment in people is underpinned by an equally impressive commitment to process. The firm has developed its own methodology for delivering brand positioning strategies, one that draws its inspiration from an old Indian proverb: “Tell me a fact and I will learn; tell me a truth and I will believe; but tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.” The firm applies a set of proprietary tools through workshops led by senior TCG counsellors, an approach that has been used to develop future marketing guidelines for diamond producer DeBeers; build a marketing proposition for the entrepreneur and executive client groups at private bank Coutts & Co.; guide brand strategy for Westminster City Council; assist with marketing positioning for Ricoh; and positioning U.K. property developer Development Securities.
New clients over the past 12 months include Rioch,
Interesting assignments included promoting Edinburgh as a destination, an assignment that involved an extensive audit of more than 50 interested organizations and the launch of a brand new city alliance to encourage regeneration of the city’s waterfront; the launch of London’s first jewellery week in June of this year, partnering with Coutts and City Fringe Partnership and raising £450,000 in funds from the private sector. Says Nick Gornall, head of entrepreneurs at Coutts: “TCG’s Face Value campaign has been greatly appreciated by Coutts and its powerful story has really helped to highlight the richness of our clients’ experiences and the firm’s own unique expertise.”
International work now accounts for about 25 percent of TCG’s fee income, with assignments from the Government of Dubai, Turkish five-star resort