Who puts the finest spin on the news in the City?
Market Leaders Pick Their Market Leader
Wednesday 12 May 1999
Chairman, Chime Communications
Alan Parker of Brunswick is really one of the most successful financial PR men around at the moment if one looks at it in terms of the business and clients he has won. He seems to have the support of intermediaries such as the bankers and brokers and is continually recommended. He has clearly got a strategic brain and knows how the market and the media work. Plus he's a very good communicator. There was a time when financial PR was extremely influential but it is less so now. The key to financial PR these days is to get across the client's positioning strategy rather than just the story, and Parker is good at this. Roland Rudd of Finsbury should be mentioned as one of financial PR's up-and-coming whizzkids. Then, of course, there's my partner Piers Pottinger, who has a close relationship with the big hitters in the City - that's vital in our industry.
Chairman, WMC Communications
In terms of track record, Alan Parker of Brunswick is a very successful financial PR man. He's been in the business a long time. In fact, I turned him down for a job when I ran Hill and Knowlton. He has an impressive number of clients from the FTSE 100 index. He also seems to have the confidence of CEOs and has attracted a first-class team who are committed to what they do. Roland Rudd stands out as a young up and coming PR man especially since the business is changing. He has a new way of looking at things and is an exceptionally bright chap. I think Alan Parker was highly original and I think Rudd is too.
Former head of Dewe Rogerson
David Wright of Citigate is someone whom I am impressed by in this business. He is an extremely good manager. Tony Carlisle of Citigate also rates extremely highly. He joined me in 1971 and has been involved in most aspects of financial PR over the years; he has an impressive range of skills which cover broad aspects of our business. Really to impress in this business you've got to be a good communicator and you've got to have creativity.
Independent corporate consultant
There are a couple of people who impress me, or who have impressed me in the financial PR business. There's Simon Lewis, who is now looking after the Queen. He was a great loss to the financial world and formerly had worked for NatWest and Centrica. He is a thoughtful man, and so few are in this business. There are a lot of people around who claim to be professionals but Simon really is, he makes it his business to understand his subjects. Then there's Angus Maitland, who I think runs his own consultancy now. He's another chap who understands the business and understands that marketing a financial case demands the same discipline as anything else. The great weakness in this business is that people think that the job is done once a story is leaked. Not only is that attitude very dangerous but it does the client no service at all. People like him are thin on the ground. Most run businesses I'd call "winebars" - they fulfil their task by leaking information for journalists hungry for a story. The idea is to study your subject and to seek to understand it - to market it in the same way you might market a tin of baked beans. There are some people who do this exceptionally well and these are the people who are good at PR.
Chairman, Cardew & Co
Being a good financial PR man is a little like being a doctor - broader experience means better advice. An absolute requirement is that you know how financial institutions will react to any given situation. Also, anything you have to say has to be regarded as truthful so you really need an unblemished record and that fact has broken quite a few careers.
The whole basis of the business is changing. It is more of a consultancy business than before, which means broader industrial relationships, which in turn requires higher levels of expertise and a greater depth of knowledge than ever. The man of the moment is probably Alan Parker of Brunswick because he has managed to create a bigger business than has ever been built before. He has been extremely successful. In fact, the nature of the business has changed such that there is now a relatively small catalogue of people at the top. Because the industry works on a consultancy basis, knowledge and expertise of the market is required at the highest possible levels. It is, however, encouraging to see five or six firms operating at the same level and producing good results.
Chairman, Square Mile Communications
As far as I'm concerned, all the thoroughbred horses in this industry have come from one stallion, if I may use such an analogy, and that stallion is John Addey, no longer with us. He really invented the whole genre of financial PR and was a wonderfully flamboyant character with it. He was a very successful chap, as sharp as anything and charming too. Importantly, he had a good head for figures and ran a line between clients and journalists brilliantly. In his heyday, he was a colossus and no one comes close. These days, the man I admire in the industry is David Wynne-Morgan of WMC, whom I used to work with. I learned from him how important it is to surround yourself with intelligent charismatic people. He is a great showman and his clients trust him. When necessary he can fight like a dog for his clients.
Executive Director, Citigate Dewe Rogerson and Incepta Group
Rather than simply mentioning names from agencies, I really think that there are some excellent practitioners of financial PR who aren't attached to agencies. Agencies can tend to think that they are the only repository of excellence but there are accomplished people about, for example Alastair Eperon from Boots who understands exactly what he is doing with, and for, the company, and Denise Lewison from Orange. She has masterminded its spectacular success in projecting its image. As far as agencies are concerned, I would like to identify three men whom I am impressed with. First, Tony Langham of Lansons, who had the intelligence to recognise that the high growth area of retail finance products warranted an agency with a specific focus. Second, Tim Bell, who is one of the few PR men who thoroughly understands the importance of communications and who has an extremely good set of connections. Finally, Alan Parker, who is an extremely good operator and who has built up a big, successful UK-focused business.
Chairman, Hudson Sandler Ltd
One chap I like and am impressed by is David Brewerton, who used to be a city editor but who is now at Brunswick. I am sure he has had an influence on the mushrooming of the company. He's trustworthy which is extremely important in this business, it means journalists will listen to him and trust him. Another who I would like to nominate is a colleague of mine, Keith Hann, who knows his clients better than anyone and has their complete confidence. He is a man of extremely high intellect with a very good sense of humour and I am always impressed with his work.
Chairman, Financial Dynamics
Alan Parker really is the mover and the shaker at the moment. He really is pre-eminent in the field and has built up a first class business. I think the key to his success was that he always went for the quality client list. Initially we at Financial Dynamics had twice the number of clients as he did, but he had the quality names. This ultimately paid dividends as a good deal of work comes from referrals. His strength is that he is a brilliant networker and is an amazing advocate for his clients' interests. As far as he is concerned there is only one point of view, and that is his client's. Furthermore, he has a very strong team working with him, which includes heavyweight characters such as David Brewerton, Tom Kyte, Alison Hogan and Louise Charlton. Importantly, he has managed to keep hold of them. He can only go from strength to strength.
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