Multispecialist with strong public affairs capabilities
When Winkelman en Van Hessen opened its doors 25 years ago, it offered an approach that blended traditional public relations and marketing, something quite different for the Dutch market at the time. It’s still in the company’s culture to think entrepreneurially and do things differently. Says Giedo van der Zwan, who leads the firm’s corporate practice, “We don’t look a lot at our competitors; we do things our own way.”
Today, with 80 people, Winkelman en Van Hessen is the largest independent public relations firm in the Dutch market. With its headquarters in the nation’s capital, The Hague, WVH stands out because of its unusually strong government communications and public affairs practices, but it’s a full-service firm, with additional practices focused on marketing and corporate communications and specialist groups providing crisis communications and employee communications and change management services. It draws clients from a wide range of sectors, but has special expertise in the FMCG, financial services, healthcare, technology, construction, and media industries, in addition to representing numerous government agencies.
The firm takes the view that “communication is always a means, never an end in itself,” a belief that leads to programmes designed to build its clients’ businesses, whether through employee communications that inspires and motivates or external communications that seeks to take advantage of new opportunities. The veteran senior team includes Tamira van Woerden, with expertise in marketing communication, new product introductions and crisis communications; van der Zwan, who heads the corporate practice and has experience in reputation management and cause related marketing; Charlotte Vermeulen, who leads the firm’s governmental communication efforts; and public affairs chief Michel van Schie. Senior consultant Hugo van Bergenformer, meanwhile, was formerly communication manager at Orange.
The firm continues to work for some of the largest global brands (often in partnership with Ketchum, serving as the multinational firm’s Dutch affiliate), consumer clients like Coca-Cola, Heineken, and Unilever, and for big Dutch companies like ABN Amro. New business in the past 12 months includes Vedior, Nedlines, Ajax football club, NRC Handelsblad and Unilever for corporate communications; Vinos de Espana, Unilever, and Pink Ribbon for marketing communications; and LHV (the Dutch doctors’ association), ICT and GEU for public affairs.