Public Affairs Consultancies of the Year, EMEA 2015 | Holmes Report
Charting the future of public relations

2015 EMEA Public Affairs Consultancies of the Year

Our 2015 EMEA PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 150 submissions and 100 face-to-face meetings with the best PR firms across the region.

Winners received their trophies at the EMEA SABRE Awards in London on 19 May. Analysis of all Winners and Finalists across 20 categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or below.

Public Affairs Consultancy of the Year — FTI Consulting

Since Brussels-based public affairs firm Blueprint was acquired by FTI Consulting (then FD) in 2008, it has grown every year. After fee income increased by another 30% in 2014 (new business came from Air Liquide, BHP Billiton, Cosmetics Europe, Dow, Google, Johnson & Johnson and more), the firm now has a team of 60 consultants generating revenues of more than $10m, still led by Blueprint founder Julia Harrison.

It has refined its capabilities in recent years, building on its experience in highly-regulated and issues-rich sectors such as energy, financial services, healthcare, technology and agriculture, and in practice areas such as crisis communications and competition policy—while drawing on the unique expertise of the larger consulting operation in areas such as corporate finance, global risk, and economics consulting.

The firm has handled high-profile, high-stakes issues for clients such as Mastercard, the Gates Foundation, and Shale Gas Europe. In the past year, FTI helped increase understanding of and support for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, proposed natural gas pipeline through Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea landing in Italy. It also created a multilingual pan-European campaign for Shale Gas Europe, injecting science and perspective into an emotionally-charged debate. And its integrated effort on behalf of The Walk Free Foundation, a global movement fighting to end modern slavery, resulted in widespread media coverage.

And while Brussels remains the epicentre of European public affairs and of FTI’s offer, it has made moves to strengthen elsewhere, with the appointment of Alex Deane (formerly of Weber Shandwick) as managing director in the London office and with Martin Kothé continuing to head up a solid Berlin offer.— PH


Finalists

Acumen (Brussels/Independent)

Between them Elaine Cruikshanks, Abigail Jones and Giles Keane—who founded Acumen four years ago—have more than 60 years of public affairs and corporate communications experience, so while the firm is relatively new, its principals are no newcomers, and their personal involvement from strategic counsel to execution is one of the firm’s big selling points.

Senior staff focus primarily on the EU policy agenda, but have also become more active in Geneva, working on the health agenda—the firm’s oldest client is the Swiss-based International Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries & Associations. Other clients include Cargill Europe, Daikin Europe, the European Broadcasting Union and Eurovision, LEO Pharma, Mastercard, Novartis, Nominet, Plastics Europe, P&G, Syngenta, and Toy Industries of Europe. New additions to the roster over the past 12 months included CEMBUREAU (the European Cement Association), Eli Lilly & Company, SpiritsEurope and Mitsubishi Electric.

They helped Acumen to fee income of around €1.23m last year. The firm has been active over the past 12 months in helping clients prepare for political changeover in Brussels. Acumen supported the European Broadcasting Union with media relations for the first-ever live televised debate between the five main candidates to be the next president of the European Commission and worked with the IFPMA on its biannual conference in New York, in terms of content and integrating social media and other creative content for delegates.— PH

Cambre (Brussels/SEC Group)

In March 2009, Tom Parker and Aart van Iterson took over the management of Cambre Associates (founded in 2000) and set about diversifying Cambre’s offering and sector expertise. Even so, the firm still stands out for its public affairs work that is geared towards helping clients navigate the new advocacy paradigm.

In 2014, fee income was about €3.2m — a 15% jump over the previous year — and 25 staff across its operations. Longstanding accounts include 10-year client CES, plus new additions like the International Council of Shopping Centers, CECED, Covidien, Decathlon and IKEA. The firm also recently renewed its contract with the European Council for Plasticisers and Intermediates.  

Among its most notable work, Cambre was asked to assist with a risk and opportunities assessment and stakeholder audit regarding a potential rebranding of a newly-merged entity. The conclusions of this study supported Cambre’s work on the definition, development and roll-out of the new brand.

Cambre also helped define a long term industry vision for a major European consumer goods and manufacturing association as it anticipated the reshuffling of European Institutions and a new policy term. Cambre conceptualized a socioeconomic study of the sector’s contribution to Europe and a suite of communications materials, including an animation and brochure that laid the foundation for promoting the sector’s 2025 agenda. — AaS


Hanover Communications
(UK/Independent)

Since its inception 17 years ago Hanover has evolved beyond its UK roots to become one of Europe largest public affairs consultancies, thanks in large part to stellar topline growth of 63% over the past three years, driven by a blue-chip client roster that includes Goldman Sachs, Sky, Lloyds Banking Group, Lilly, Lucozade Ribena Suntory and the NFL. Neither does Hanover appear to be cooling its heels; the firm wants to double in size by 2018 by deepening its expertise in healthcare, financial services, energy and FMCG; investing in new practice areas in global crisis and issues, social media community management (and digital build) and brand strategy for fast growth technology companies.

After growing 45% in 2013, Hanover maintained its impressive performance in 2014, reporting fee income of more than £7m, generated by around 60 staffers in London and Brussels. Long-term retained client relationships – with Sky, Lloyds Banking Group, Microsoft, the British Beer & Pub Association, John Lewis Partnership, Lilly and Airbus Group – continue to represent the bulk of Hanover’s work, but the firm also attracted a number of significant new retained clients, including, AEE Renewables, Celltrion, England and Wales Cricket Board, the European Branded Clothing Alliance, Lucozade Ribena Suntory, the National Football League (NFL) and Novartis.

The firm remains led by founder former Downing Street press secretarty Charles Lewington, who is supported by Andrew Harrison, director and global head of the healthcare practice; Laura Swire, director and head of Hanover’s advocacy team; and director and head of Hanover’s corporate and consumer practice, Gavin Megaw. Brussels is headed by MD Christian Hierholzer, who recently reappointed Emma Eatwell as director of healthcare of that operation.

Hanover public affairs and healthcare expertise has been boosted, furthermore, by its Sentio platform, developed in conjunction with Populus, which combines the probabilities for a variety of potential government outcomes with qualitative analysis of business-critical policies, and is the FT's official election predictor tool. That kind of innovation also helps the firm's campaign work, most visibily in its efforts to help the British Beer and Pub Association successfully achieve a cut in beer tax for the third year running.— AS


Interel
(Brussels/Independent)

From humble beginnings in Brussels 30 years ago, Interel has grown into an international public affairs powerhouse, with additional offices in Paris, London, Berlin, Delhi, Beijing and Washington, DC, and 120 people—supplemented by a network of affiliates—specializing in government relations and public affairs. They are led by group CEO Frederik Lofthagen, a 20-year veteran of the EU policymaking process, and the leader in 2011 of a management buyout that also involved 17 members of the firm’s management team and set Interel up for its recent growth.

The firm has particular expertise in the technology, health, energy, defense and food sectors, and in supporting professional associations. It works with clients including The Project Management Institute, Astellas, Beiersdorf Expedia, Danone, The Coca-Cola Company, Red Bull, SAB Miller, Mead Westvaco, and BP, with new business in 2014 from Nissan (a pan-European assignment), Tetra Pak (global), Google (India), HomeAway (UK), McArthur Glen (Belgium), IEEE (global), Gilead (pan-European), Facebook (Germany), and Lockheed Martin.

Highlights of the past 12 months included advising Challenger, an Australian pension fund that owns the Oikos terminal in the Thames estuary, on competition issues; Généalogistes de France on their role in the political arena and the public debate about inheritance; St John Ambulance on putting first aid on the school curriculum in England; and Orphan Europe raising the profile of rare disease, porphyria, among doctors and health professionals.—PH