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Our new integrated health policy and communications offer

We are excited to welcome Grant Fisher as Head of Health Communications, and Donna Curran as Partner. The hires aim to match the needs of our growing integrated health policy and communications offer, which is helping clients tackle some of their biggest challenges.

Grant is a healthcare communications specialist, with over 18 years’ experience working in the UK, European and Global healthcare markets. He’s worked in award winning agencies, on a wide range of therapy areas and with the biggest pharmaceutical and biotech companies. Before agency life, he worked as a communications and patient engagement lead in the NHS, giving him a unique perspective on how best to engage audiences to ensure patients get the medicines they deserve.

Donna specialises in managing strategic communications programmes for a range of leading pharma and med-tech companies and has delivered award winning integrated campaigns for world class brands. She is an expert in bringing diverse groups together to make change in health a reality. Most recently, she played a leading role in setting up the Infection Management Coalition which brought together, pharma, med tech, professional bodies, and clinicians to tackle the ‘hidden pandemic’ of antibiotic resistance.

Dean Sowman, Senior Partner and Head of Health said: “After the best start to the year in the agency’s history, with a raft of big integrated policy and communications wins, I am delighted to welcome Grant and Donna to the team. Their extensive expertise in delivering award winning communications programmes adds extra firepower to our integrated offering. Our clients want in-depth policy knowledge and communications flair to work hand-in-hand to achieve business outcomes and, ultimately, to benefit patients and society.”

Donna Curran, said: “I am excited to be joining WA Health at this exciting time in its evolution, and building on the fantastic work that it has already achieved. The opportunity to be at the forefront of developing communications closely integrated to policy and government affairs is an exciting prospect. I believe the work we will do has the ability to improve the lives of many patients, through supporting the delivery of better treatment and healthcare.”

Grant Fisher, said: “I am extremely excited that Donna is joining me as we formally launch WA Health’s integrated offer. WA Health’s extensive policy and government affairs knowledge, combined with a commitment to enact meaningful change through communications is an exciting prospect and one I truly align with. I believe WA Health’s approach will ensure we are best placed to develop powerful campaigns, that will make positive change a reality.”

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Daniel Hearne joins WA to bolster Digital Team

In the newly-created Director of Digital role, digital communications specialist Daniel Hearne will draw on his experience as a campaigns specialist. Working with our 60-strong team, Daniel will drive forward WA’s digital offer ensuring it is at the heart of our clients’ campaigns. 

Daniel joins us from the strategic advisory firm, Brunswick Group, where he advised and developed global digital corporate and consumer campaigns for clients across the technology, financial services, professional services, retail, and energy and resources sectors, supporting them to navigate and successfully communicate with their most important audiences on digital channels. 

As part of the move, Daniel will work alongside our Deputy Managing Director and strategic communications specialist Laura Gabb and WA’s Creative team to further broaden our existing integrated campaigning capabilities.  

Our recent works includes delivering digital campaigns for Sanofi to showcase the pharma giant’s sustainability strategy; developing social campaigns for the Institution of Civil Engineers; and producing a creative campaign film and report for Chiltern Railway to showcase their plans for an easier, greener and better future. 

Daniel’s appointment is the latest in a series of senior hires and appointments – including Alison Clarke as our Chair, strategic communications specialist Laura Gabb who joined us as Deputy Managing Director; Cicero MD Tom Frackowiak, who joined to head up our Financial Services practice; former Times Transport Correspondent Philip Pank; and the appointment of Whitehall Permanent Secretary Sir Philip Rutnam, as Chair of our Advisory Board.  

Commenting on his appointment, Daniel Hearne, Director of Digital, WA, said: 

“In a complex, multi-stakeholder environment, businesses need to communicate with every relevant audience and maximise the number of channels and touchpoints to achieve policy outcomes and strengthen corporate reputations.  

With WA’s strong background in delivering strategic communications campaigns, I am looking forward to working with our clients to ensure digital and social is at the heart of their campaigns.” 

Dominic Church, Managing Director, WA, added: 

“I’m delighted to welcome Daniel to WA. 

His extensive experience in navigating and using digital channels to best achieve client outcomes will be a great asset to WA’s integrated approach.  

Daniel’s appointment will be invaluable to our clients and team, as we pursue our ambition of becoming the UK’s leading independent strategic communications agency.” 

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Alison Clarke appointed as WA Board Chair

One of the industry’s most experienced business leaders and c-suite communications advisers, Alison Clarke will work with our leadership team to further enhance our strategic communications offer.

In addition to leading Grayling’s UK & Ireland business, Alison was President of Weber Shandwick Asia Pacific for three years, and has served as the PRCA Chair and CIPR President.

Throughout her career, she has advised some of the world’s biggest brands, including British Airways, Diageo, MasterCard, McDonald’s, Nestle, and Unilever.

She has worked with WA since January 2022 as one of the agency’s senior advisors – joining leading journalist and broadcaster Steve Richards, and former Whitehall Permanent Secretary Sir Philip Rutnam, to provide strategic client counsel across the communications landscape.

In her new role as the board chair – a newly created position – she will work with colleagues across WA to drive continued integration of our public affairs, corporate communications, digital, creative and research services, reflecting our ambitions and growth plan to be the UK’s leading independent strategic communications business.

The move is one of several recent appointments, which have seen WA invest across a range of communications disciplines and secure significant in-depth sector expertise – including Tom Frackowiak joining from H/Advisors Cicero, to expand our financial service offer; former Times journalist Philip Pank adding nearly twenty year’s transport media experience; and newly appointed Deputy Managing Director Laura Gabb boosting our expertise in strategic communications campaigns.

We were listed as one of the UK’s top three public affairs agencies in this year’s PR Week Top 150 table, and have recently been awarded integration communications briefs from brands including RWE, Pfizer, the Institution of Civil Engineers, and Chiltern Rail.

Commenting on her expanded role, Alison Clarke said:

“I’ve already worked with WA for more than two years, and have seen first-hand the industry-leading integrated campaigns they deliver every day.

Now I’m excited to be taking on a wider role – drawing on my experience driving growth and impact for some of the world’s biggest communications agencies – to help the team continue to widen the scale, scope and success of that work.”

WA’s Managing Director, Dominic Church, added:

“Alison has played a key part in our recent growth, and I’m delighted that she’s able to widen her role with WA.

I know her global experience, first-hand understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing high-profile brands, and cross-discipline communications expertise will be key to achieving our ambition of becoming the UK’s leading independent strategic communications agency.”

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Former Times transport correspondent Phil Pank joins WA

Philip Pank, an award-winning former Transport Correspondent for The Times, has joined WA as a Partner to drive integrated campaigns in aviation, rail and road, as the leading independent London agency strengthens its presence in the sector.

He will work with Marc Woolfson, a Partner and Head of Public Affairs – as well as Sir Philip Rutnam, the former Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport, who PR Week reported last month has joined WA as Chair of the agency’s Advisory Board.

The team will deliver integrated communications campaigns across the sector – building on the agency’s existing £1m+ roster of transport clients, which include Birmingham Airport, Stagecoach, the Cycle to Work Alliance and Street Works UK.

Commenting on his appointment, Philip Pank, Partner, WA, said:

“I’m super excited to join WA and help the agency build out its transport offer across disciplines. It’s a privilege to work with true experts in the field, such as Sir Philip Rutnam.

“This is a critical time for the transport sector as demand for travel rebounds, consumers chase value and low-emission options; while operators grapple with decarbonisation, hybrid working and the other macro trends shaping our lives.”

Dominic Church, Managing Director, WA, added:

“Welcoming Philip to WA significantly enhances our ability to help organisations achieve policy and reputational outcomes in an area where government action, media interest and public impact are often interlinked.

“I’m delighted to be able to bring his wide-ranging media skills and in-depth transport network to bear on our client campaigns, and work with him to further build our communications offer across the sector.”

Philip will also lead on the agency’s media training offer to clients across the business. He joins WA from Pagefield, where he provided senior counsel, strategy, narrative development, and crisis support to clients including British Airways, Qatar Airways, London City Airport, Hitachi Rail and micro-mobility provider TIER.

During almost a decade in consultancy, he has delivered the communications response to issues including major corporate restructures caused by the pandemic, a terror attack, environmental protests, the near collapse of an international airline, and an international doping scandal.

Philip was previously The Times’ Transport Correspondent, leading the paper’s coverage across aviation, rail, cycling, roads, and shipping. He won the National Transport Awards Media Campaign of the Year for the paper’s Cities Fit for Cycling campaign – hailed as “elevating the importance of cycling safety at all levels of government” – and was recognised at the Online Media Awards for the Best Use of Crowdsourcing / Citizen Journalism.

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Tom Frackowiak joins WA, heading financial services practice

We’re delighted to welcome Tom Frackowiak to WA, who joins as a Partner and Head of Financial Services.

Tom brings more than twenty year’s experience across the financial sector, and has played a leading role in shaping and developing the communications industry.

He moves to WA from Cicero, where he worked for more than twelve years, including a decade spent leading the firm’s UK public affairs business, he’s advised financial services clients ranging from high street banks and insurers, to investment and wealth management businesses, fintechs and trade bodies – including Accenture, AXA, Barclays, BlackRock, e-Toro, Just Group, Klarna, St. James’ Place, and The City UK.

He previously worked for Halifax Bank of Scotland, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and for the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban MP and Shadow Business Minister, Iain Wright MP, through his work on the Business & Finance Parliamentary group.

In addition, he has been a member of the PRCA Public Affairs Committee’s Executive Committee, took part in the first CIPR & Taylor Bennett Foundation Diversity and Inclusion Reverse Mentoring Scheme, and participates in the Speakers for Schools programme.

At WA, Tom will lead and grow our dedicated financial services practice – building on our existing work across the sector, where a team including Natasha Egan-Sjodin, advise clients including global cryptocurrency network Ripple, leading accountancy firm KPMG, and Brink’s-owned ATM operator NoteMachine.

His appointment follows former Times Transport Correspondent Philip Pank joining us in August; and former Permanent Secretary Sir Philip Rutnam, who joined the WA advisory board in May,

Commenting on his appointment, Tom Frackowiak, Partner and Head of Financial Services, WA, said:

It’s an exciting time to join WA. I’ve long admired its integrated strategic communications offer, and I’m looking forward to drawing on this expertise from across the agency, to help more firms in the financial services sector achieve their policy and reputational outcomes”.

Dominic Church, Managing Director, WA, added:

I’m delighted to welcome Tom to WA. As one of the leading communications consultants in the UK, he’s well positioned to help us expand our financial services work and build a truly unique, market-leading practice in the sector”.

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WA Communications wins prestigious Public Affairs and Policy Consultancy at the 2023 Communiqué Awards

The health practice of WA Communications is delighted to have been recognised for its industry leading team after another outstanding year. This year’s win marks a significant milestone for the agency’s health team. Having won the Small Consultancy Award in 2022, it has now claimed the highly coveted title of Public Affairs and Policy Consultancy of the Year.

The prestigious Communiqué Awards was celebrating its 25th year of recognsing excellence and innovation in the healthcare communications industry.

Commenting on this achievement, Head of Health at WA Communications, Caroline Gordon, said:

“Winning the Public Affairs and Policy Consultancy of the Year is a testament to our team’s commitment to delivering exceptional service and strategic counsel to our clients. It underscores our industry-leading position and serves as a testament to the trust placed in us by our clients. We couldn’t be more delighted.”

WA Health Partner Dean Sowman said:

“We are really pleased that the judges recognised our strengths, highlighting our focus on impact and dedication to developing our team. It’s what we’re most proud of and what stands us out in such a strong market.”

2022 was another standout year for the agency. Highlights include expanding our roster of clients to include GambleAware, Janssen and AbbVie; growing the team to 17 healthcare communications specialists, and broadening our offer increasingly into communications and digital.

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Dean Sowman Promoted to Head of Health

We are pleased to announce the promotion of Dean Sowman to the position of Head of Health within our highly acclaimed Health Practice, and Caroline Gordon’s move to Senior Advisor. Dean’s promotion comes in recognition of his leadership and contribution to the Practice’s record growth since he joined in 2019.

Caroline Gordon, who has spent five years as Partner and Head of Health, will continue to provide strategic counsel and guidance to its growing roster of blue-chip clients.

Alongside Caroline, Dean has been responsible for the Health Team’s record expansion, growing revenues fourfold since 2019. As Head of Health, Dean Sowman will assume responsibility for driving the continued success of the Practice, which has evolved from a modest four-member unit to a talented group of seventeen professionals.

WA’s Head of Health Dean Sowman said:

“I’m delighted to lead WA’s Health practice as we continue to expand our offer to clients and our brilliant people. This is a hugely exciting time for the business. We have had successive years of growth, driven by our integrated approach and a relentless focus on impact for clients.”

WA Communications’ is renowned for its integrated communications approach, and the multi award-winning Health Practice is at the forefront of this comprehensive offering, encompassing communications, media, policy, public affairs, and creative capabilities. Dean Sowman will be joined in the Health Team’s Leadership group by Senior Director, Rebecca Brake and Associate Directors Alice Inch and Lloyd Tingley.

Commenting, Dominic Church, WA’s Managing Director said:

“I am delighted to announce Dean’s promotion to Head of Health. He has been an invaluable asset to WA Communications and has played an instrumental role in the success and growth of our Health Practice”

“Dean’s deep understanding of the healthcare sector, coupled with his strategic thinking, complex problem solving and leadership skills, make him the ideal candidate to lead our Health Practice as we continue to develop our integrated offer.”

“Caroline is an exceptional business leader and she will be working closely with Dean and I as a Senior Adviser, as we shape this next phase in WA’s offer.”

Commenting, Caroline Gordon said:

“After five years heading WA’s Health practice, it felt like the right time to hand over the reins, and I’m looking forward to the challenge of building a portfolio career that draws on the expertise and experience I’ve gained at the agency.

I’m delighted that part of that portfolio will be continuing to work with the team and clients at WA, as a strategic counsel on issues across the public affairs, policy and communications landscape.”

Dean Sowman has a proven track record in healthcare communications, with extensive experience in developing and executing integrated strategies for a diverse range of clients. He advises clients on complex policy and market access programmes, disease awareness campaigns and crisis management. His expertise has helped WA Communications secure major client wins, including Sanofi, Gilead, Janssen, Jazz, AbbVie, Roche, Gamble Aware, Guide Dogs, and Astellas.

This news coincides with other significant developments within WA Communications. The company has bolstered its senior advisory capabilities with the appointments of Sir Philip Rutnam as Chair of the WA Advisory Board and Mike Bell, Chair of SW London ICB, who will provide invaluable guidance and insights to the Health Team.

With Dean Sowman’s leadership, the Health Practice at WA Communications is poised to build upon its strong foundation and continue delivering exceptional strategic communications solutions to clients in the healthcare sector. The team remains committed to providing innovative, impactful, and tailored approaches that drive positive change and foster meaningful engagement.

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NHS Leader Joins WA Communications Advisory Board

We are pleased to announce the appointment of NHS leader Mike Bell to our growing advisory board. Mike Bell brings a wealth of experience and expertise in the healthcare sector, having served in various senior roles within the NHS.

Mike is currently Chair of NHS South West London Integrated Care Board and Chair of Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust.

With over 25 years of NHS board level experience, including more than a decade on strategic health authority boards, including as vice-chair of NHS London, Mike brings a deep understanding of the healthcare landscape to his advisory role. Previously, he served as the Chair of Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, playing a pivotal role in improving healthcare services in the Croydon area.

Our specialist health practice offers integrated services in public affairs, corporate communications, digital, research, and creative services. Current clients include life sciences companies including Sanofi, AbbVie and Roche, as well as charities and patient groups including Guide Dogs and Muscular Dystrophy UK.

Mike Bell’s appointment to the advisory board further strengthens our commitment to providing strategic counsel in the healthcare sector.

WA’s advisory board is chaired by Sir Philip Rutnam – former Permanent Secretary at the Home Office and Department of Transport, and founding Partner of Ofcom. It also draws together senior figures from the communications industry, Westminster, the media, and the health sector, including former CEO of Grayling UK Alison Clarke, and broadcaster & journalist Steve Richards.

Commenting on the appointment, Caroline Gordon, Partner and Head of WA Communications’ health team said,

“I am delighted to welcome Mike to our team. His extensive experience and strategic insight in the NHS and medtech sectors will be invaluable in delivering senior counsel to our clients in health and life sciences. WA is now even better equipped to navigate the complex and changing landscape of healthcare delivery and drive meaningful outcomes for our clients.”

Mike Bell added,

“I am delighted to be joining WA Communications at this exciting time. As a member of WA Communications’ advisory board, I look forward to using my experience from two decades in the healthcare sector to provide strategic guidance that helps clients partner effectively with the NHS.”

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UK’s largest power generator, RWE, appoints WA Communications to lead integrated strategic comms brief

Energy giant RWE, which produces around 15% of the country’s electricity, has appointed WA Communications to lead a two-year-long integrated communications programme, following a competitive pitch process.

WA – ranked as one of the UK’s Top 3 Public Affairs agencies in this year’s PR Week’s Top 150 table – will be supporting RWE as they look to work closely with the Government to deliver on its energy independence, affordability and Net Zero ambitions.

With a diverse operational portfolio of renewables and gas, RWE is at the forefront of delivering the UK’s Net Zero transition – and leading the way in cutting edge energy technology such as Carbon Capture and Hydrogen.

The wide-ranging brief will cover both political engagement and corporate communications, building on WA’s experience in integrated strategic communications, and leverages the firm’s deep energy expertise – with RWE joining its extensive roster of existing clients across the sector, including energy storage company Eaton, and clean-tech innovator Enertechnos.

Commenting, Dominic Church, WA’s Managing Director said:

“Energy is in the political and media spotlight like never before, and the Government needs to show it is acting to address well-publicised energy security and affordability concerns of voters – while at the same time maintaining progress against Net Zero targets.

“This puts an enormous onus on the energy industry to be providing solutions now to the current Government, while Labour is increasingly eager for industry input to flesh out their ambitious green energy plans ahead of the upcoming election.

“RWE sits right at the heart of this challenge, and we’re hugely excited to have been brought on board to deliver an integrated programme of work, as they look to navigate the turbulent months to come for the industry.”

Alice Barrs, RWE’s Head of UK Policy and Public Affairs said:

“We knew from the outset that we needed an agency that would take an integrated approach to the challenges RWE were facing as the UK looks to transition to Net Zero, and ahead of a General Election most likely next year.

“With its deep roots into Labour, and the team’s energy sector expertise – across both public affairs and comms – we knew that WA would be a great fit for this programme of work.”

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Former Permanent Secretary Sir Philip Rutnam joins WA’s Advisory Board

Formerly one of the UK’s most senior civil servants, Sir Philip joins the Advisory Board as its Chair, and will provide strategic advice on the inner workings of Whitehall as we approach the general election and potential change of government.

WA’s advisory board draws together senior figures from the communications industry, Westminster, the media, and the health sector, including former CEO of Grayling UK Alison Clarke; Chair of NHS South West London Integrated Care Board and Chair of Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust, Mike Bell; and broadcaster & journalist Steve Richards.

Having previously served as the Permanent Secretary of the UK Home Office, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport, acting Permanent Secretary at the Department for Business, and as one of the founders of Ofcom, Sir Philip brings an unrivalled understanding of government operations and policy-making processes. His distinguished career spans over three decades, during which he held several high-profile positions within the British civil service.

Sir Philip’s expertise in governance, risk management, and policy implementation will be invaluable in advising WA Communications’ clients on navigating the evolving regulatory landscape.

Commenting on the appointment, Dominic Church, Managing Director, WA Communications said:

“We are thrilled to welcome Sir Philip Rutnam to our advisory board, His extensive experience and deep knowledge of government operations will further enhance our consultancy’s capabilities, enabling us to provide our clients with even more comprehensive and strategic advice across multiple sectors. Sir Philip’s appointment reinforces our commitment to delivering high-quality counsel and unmatched insights to our valued clients.”

Sir Philip added:

“WA’s advisory board reflects the breadth of strategic advice that the agency as a whole is able to provide, and the policy and reputational outcomes it achieves. I’m delighted to be able to add my experience to this, as we approach what could be a significant time of change in Westminster, and for organisations across the country”.

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WA Health named Small Consultancy of the Year at the Communiqué Awards

Following a brilliant 2021, we are thrilled to have been named Small Consultancy of the Year at the 2022 Communiqué Awards. 

The award comes as WA Health achieved 128% growth and expanded the team from nine to 16 last year. 

We were proud to accomplish this growth while maintaining a fantastic team spirit. Onboarding almost half a new team during a pandemic was challenging, but our deep shared commitment to creating a collaborative, supportive and fun working environment gave us real collective strength.  

The Communiqué Awards judges said: 

“WA clearly demonstrated the impact of their communication programmes, which combine research, strategy and creativity to tackle life-changing issues and deliver outstanding results for their clients.”   

We look forward to continuing to deliver thought-provoking, evidence-based work, providing robust challenge and getting to the heart of our clients’ most pressing needs.  

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WA Communications bolsters corporate comms function with new hire

WA Communications has hired seasoned government communicator Rachel Ford as an Associate Director in their Strategic Communications practice.

Rachel is a media relations specialist with extensive experience working at the heart of government to promote policy, manage reputation and influence public opinion.

She joins WA after over seven years working on some of the most sensitive and high-profile issues in Whitehall, most recently running the press office at the Ministry of Defence. Rachel also spent several years at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and before joining government worked in PR where she brought health, charity and travel campaigns to life.

Rachel will now bring her in-depth knowledge of policy development, crisis comms and reputation management to bolster the corporate comms function within WA’s Strategic Communications team, which continues to go from strength to strength, with WA having seen 45% year on year growth across the agency.

Lee Findell, Partner and Head of Corporate Communications, WA Communications, said:

“Rachel brings a wealth of government, policy and media relations experience to WA and is a fantastic addition to our Strategic Communications team as we continue to grow our integrated, insight-led comms offer.

“Rachel will be invaluable in helping clients navigate the political and media landscape to make sure their messages are heard by the right people, at the right time.”

Rachel Ford, Associate Director, Strategic Communications, said:

“From energy and the housing market to health and the cost of living, WA helps clients navigate some of the biggest issues facing businesses and society today.

“I look forward to working with clients on these knotty issues to make sure messaging is relevant, targeted and can bring about real and lasting change.”

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Former Special Adviser Amy Fisher joins WA Communications

Following 45% year on year growth across the agency, Amy has joined WA as a Director in the Strategic Communications practice, as WA continues to broaden its political insights and strategic counsel.

Amy will play a key role in servicing client accounts across the business, with a focus on providing insight and senior advice for clients on around issues and reputation management and crisis comms.

The creation of the Strategic Communications practice last year came amid not only strong growth for WA, but also with high profile new business wins including Novo Nordisk, Newcastle University, Landmark Information Group, Roadchef, Edenred, and Simplyhealth. The new offering draws on the strengths of both Corporate Communications and Public Affairs teams to further strengthen WA’s reputation for outcome-based results for clients.

Amy has joined WA after spending time, since 2010, in senior roles in government as a Special Adviser in four different Whitehall departments (Northern Ireland Office, Home Office, Ministry of Justice, Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs), and as Director of Communications for the Conservative Party.  Latterly, she has joined WA from the think tank Policy Exchange, where she was Director of Policy and Communications.  Amy has worked previously in the private sector, including at Google, but laid her roots in Westminster, working in Conservative HQ’s press office, at the outset of her career.

Marc Woolfson, Partner and Head of Public Affairs, WA Communications, said:

“Amy is a hugely respected political figure and we’re delighted to welcome her as we build our senior team. She will bring unparalleled insight to our Strategic Comms practice, both from a political and media standpoint. This unique blend of expertise is a perfect fit for WA as we continue to develop our team of experts and create more holistic offerings for our clients, rooted in deep insight.”

Amy Fisher, Director, Strategic Communications, said:

“It’s clear that there are significant challenges ahead for the country; at such a time, it’s even more important that clients receive properly integrated PR and PA support, and carefully thought-through advice.

“I hope to add significant value to WA’s pedigree in the public affairs landscape, and combined with my experience in communications, and crisis comms, contribute to WA’s truly blended offering across the market. I look forward to helping clients navigate their way forward.”

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Natasha Egan-Sjodin wins Mark of Excellence at the CIPR Awards 2022

We are extremely proud of WA’s Natasha Egan-Sjodin for winning the Mark of Excellence award in the Outstanding Young Communicator of the Year category, at last night’s CIPR 2022 awards ceremony.

 

 

The highly regarded award commends the outstanding work of young professionals in the industry who are making a valuable contribution to the organisations they work for and show considerable promise in their future career.

Natasha’s triumph is recognition of her many work-related achievements, hard-fought campaign wins, and her contributions to the wider industry – a well-deserved win!

We thoroughly enjoyed the evening celebrating excellence in the UK’s PR industry and offer our congratulations to all the winners.

 

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WA Investor Services supports LDC’s investment in Shaken Udder

WA Investor Services is delighted to announce that it has advised LDC on its successful minority investment in Shaken Udder, a premium milkshake company which supplies major retailers including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose, Morrisons, ASDA, Co-op and Boots. LDC’s investment will support Shaken Udder’s management team to expand the business’s customer base, including into convenience stores, and to expand its product range. LDC will also support the business to focus on brand marketing and exploring international expansion.

WA Investor Services provided political and regulatory due diligence in support of the investment, drawing on our extensive network of policymakers to provide a detailed assessment of the policy outlook for Shaken Udder. WA’s insights gave considerable reassurance to LDC and were a key input to their investment decision.

Commenting on the deal, WA Partner and Head of Investor Services Lizzie Wills said: “It has been a pleasure to have worked with LDC on their successful transaction. With our deep networks across the relevant policy areas, WA’s Investor Services practice were really well placed to support the LDC team in understanding the regulatory outlook for Shaken Udder. Their investment will undoubtedly represent an exciting new chapter for the business as it seeks to expand. We look forward to seeing it develop over the coming years.”

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WA Investor Services supports ECI and Bionic on its exit to OMERS Private Equity

WA’s Investor Services team is very pleased to have advised ECI and the Bionic management team on its successful exit to OMERS Private Equity.

Bionic is the leading marketplace in the UK for SMEs services, using its team of tech-enabled experts to match businesses with the best business energy, insurance, connectivity, and commercial finance solutions.

Using our unrivalled network of senior policymakers and officials in the UK, WA provided an in-depth analysis of the diverse markets in which Bionic operates, demonstrating the strength of the business’s approach in meeting its customers’ needs in a complex political and regulatory environment.

Commenting on the deal, WA Partner and Head of Investor Services Lizzie Wills said: “It has been a pleasure to work with ECI and the exceptional Bionic management team on their successful transaction. WA’s Investor Services team was able to bring to bear our extensive network of key decision-makers were able to deliver a thorough assessment of the many different sectors relevant to Bionic. These insights and the wider intelligence gathered to inform our due diligence clearly demonstrates Bionic’s resilience to the challenges which those sectors may face in the coming years. We congratulate ECI and Bionic on a successful exit and look forward to seeing the business continue to flourish on the next stage of its journey.”

 

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WA Investor Services supports Trilantic Europe’s investment in Kantar Public

WA’s Investor Services team is delighted to announce that it has advised Trilantic Europe on its successful acquisition of Kantar Public, a global consulting business providing bespoke research services to governments and public-sector organisations.

Using our extensive network of senior policymakers and officials in the UK, and working with WA’s international partners across Europe and Australia, we provided an in-depth analysis of the regulatory and procurement landscape for large-scale and longitudinal population research services in government, as well as a detailed assessment of the political drivers for evidence-based policymaking in each territory.

Commenting on the deal, WA Partner and Head of Investor Services Lizzie Wills said: “It has been a pleasure to have worked with Trilantic on their successful transaction. WA’s Investor Services team, and our international network of partners, have unrivalled access to key officials directly involved in procuring population research services in the territories we analysed for this project. We were able to bring this network to bear to help the Trilantic team understand the appetite for such services in government, and the demand for Kantar’s bespoke methods in shaping policy decisions. We look forward to seeing the business go from strength to strength in the coming years.”

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Award-winning political commentator, Steve Richards, joins WA’s advisory board

WA Communications has today announced that political commentator, author and presenter, Steve Richards, will join its advisory board, bolstering the breadth of strategic insight and counsel to be offered to clients.   

Steve has written political columns for the Sunday Times, Guardian, Financial Times, and Independent. He’s a regular commentator on Sky and BBC.  

In addition to providing political intelligence and strategic counsel to WA’s extensive client roster, Richards will support WA in thought-leadership and media training.  

Dominic Church, Managing Director, WA Communications says: “Steve is a hugely respected political figure and we’re delighted to welcome him at what is an incredibly exciting time for WA following a strong string of client wins. He will bring unparalleled insight to our advisory board, both from a political and media standpoint. This unique blend of expertise is a perfect fit for WA as we continue to develop our team of experts and create more holistic offerings for our clients, rooted in deep insight.”  

Steve Richards, Senior Advisor, WA Communications says: “I’ve been really impressed with WA’s strong growth and the expertise and commitment of its staff. At a time when politics is extraordinarily turbulent, I’m hugely looking forward to lending my experience and expertise to this dynamic and rapidly growing team.”  

 

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WA Investor Services supports Agathos’ investment in Hunter Healthcare

WA Investor Services is proud to announce it has supported Agathos’ acquisition of Hunter Healthcare, a specialist recruiter working across the healthcare and life sciences sectors. The investment will help support Hunter’s ambitious growth plans, providing vital staffing solutions to healthcare providers and medical researchers, including developing its offer in international markets.

WA provided political due diligence to support the transaction, with its team of healthcare policy experts providing insights integral to the deal process, working closely with Agathos and other due diligence providers to deliver clarity on how ongoing structural changes to the NHS, the elective recovery and acceleration of the digital transformation agenda will affect healthcare recruitment decisions and priorities.

Commenting on the deal, WA Partner and Head of Investor Services Lizzie Wills said: “We are extremely pleased to have worked with Agathos on this deal. NHS staffing is a very high-profile issue at the moment and ensuring the NHS meets patient demand while undertaking fundamental system reform is a priority for political and NHS leaders, not least as they tackle the post-Covid backlog. As a market leading provider of political due diligence in healthcare transactions we were in an extremely strong position to support Agathos’ successful deal and we look forward to seeing the business develop over the coming years.”

Hugh Costello, Investment Director at Agathos said: “WA Comms produced a comprehensive report with insightful conclusions that were well supported by desktop research and interviews with sector participants. The team was available for calls as and when required and were always a total pleasure to deal with. Ultimately, the output produced by WA was instrumental in our decision to complete our investment. I would recommend their services wholeheartedly.”

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WA Investor Services supports Livingbridge’s investment in Everlight

WA Investor Services is proud to announce it has supported Livingbridge’s acquisition of Everlight, an innovative 24-hour teleradiology business. Livingbridge’s investment will help support Everlight in building its pool of exceptional radiologists, driving technological innovation and propelling international growth.

WA provided political due diligence to support the transaction, with its team of specialist political risk analysts assessing the impact of structural changes in the NHS on the business, NHS strategies for recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, and the potential implications of long-term workforce and technological issues affecting the sector.

Commenting on the deal, WA Partner and Head of Investor Services Lizzie Wills said: “We are extremely pleased to have worked with Livingbridge on this deal. Everlight is very well placed to assist the NHS in delivering cost-effective, high quality services and providing much needed capacity at a time when the health service is experiencing unprecedented demand.  Our market leading expertise in the health sector put us in a strong position to support Livingbridge’s successful deal and we look forward to seeing the business develop over the coming years.”

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WA Investor Services supports Livingbridge’s investment in AJM Healthcare

WA Investor Services is proud to announce it has supported Livingbridge’s investment in AJM Healthcare, a leading provider of NHS wheelchair services. The investment will help support AJM’s continued growth, enabling more users to benefit from its innovative, comprehensive and tailored solutions.

WA provided political due diligence to support the transaction, drawing on its market-leading expertise of evolving NHS commissioning policy, changes to the government’s procurement processes, and the wider reform agenda for health and social care. This insight was supported by the views of key decision makers and policy influencers from across WA’s extensive network.

Commenting on the deal, WA Partner and Head of Investor Services Lizzie Wills said: “We were delighted to support Livingbridge on this deal, at a time when the NHS is going through a substantial period of change. The restructuring of the commissioning process and the government’s wider focus on reform in the sector will have a significant impact on all businesses working in health and social care. WA’s deep network in both government and the NHS has informed our understanding of what the new landscape will look like and allowed us to generate valuable insights for Livingbridge. Our congratulations to everyone involved in the deal; we look forward to seeing AJM go from strength to strength in the years ahead.”

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WA Investor Services supports Connection Capital investment in Mr Pickford’s pharmacies

WA Investor Services is proud to announce it has supported Connection Capital’s acquisition of Mr Pickford’s, an innovative community pharmacy business. The investment will help support Mr Pickford’s expansion plans, taking advantage of its market leading use of technology to deliver high quality services to patients.

WA provided political due diligence to support the transaction, with its team of specialist political risk analysists assessing the enhanced role of pharmacies as a partner in public health policy, as well as the outlook for funding in the sector in light of the evolution in government expectations of pharmacy services.

Miles Otway, Partner at Connection Capital said: “The WA Communications team delivered an excellent piece of work that provided insight for both Connection Capital in our deal assessment process but also the management team as they think about the shaping of their offering to patients to align with the wider central government and NHS priorities. We have already engaged WA Communications on another due diligence exercise and look forward to working further with the team.”

Commenting on the deal, WA Partner and Head of Investor Services Lizzie Wills said: “We are extremely pleased to have worked with Connection on this deal. The pharmacy sector is undergoing a period of transition, driven by changing government policy and a renewed commitment to disease prevention in the NHS.  Our market leading expertise in the health sector put us in a strong position to support Connection’s successful deal and we look forward to seeing the business develop over the coming years.”

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Lizzy Cryar to speak at the German Association for Political Consultants (DeGePol) young professionals annual conference

WA is proud to announce that Senior Account Manager Lizzy Cryar will be a speaker at the German Association for Political Consultants (DeGePol) young professionals annual conference on Saturday 15th May. Lizzy is currently chair of the PRCA NextGen PA committee, representing public affairs consultants in the UK in the first decade of their careers.

The conference will hear from five speakers from across Europe, who will discuss how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected politics and public affairs in their home countries. Lizzy will be sharing her analysis on how Covid-19 has affected public perceptions of the government and opposition in the UK, the future of the union, and the ongoing debate over the need to reform lobbying regulations in light of high profile news stories involving former politicians.

Commenting ahead of the conference, Lizzy said: “I’m incredibly proud to be representing WA and the PRCA at the DeGePol young professionals conference this year. The Covid-19 has had a huge impact on politics across the UK and I’m delighted that I have been asked to share my thoughts on the subject.”

Lizzie Wills, Partner at WA Communications said: “Lizzy is a superb political analyst and her reflections on the impact of Covid on the UK environment will be hugely useful for all the delegates at the DeGePol conference. Unpacking the many different political dynamics at play in the UK at the moment takes a really mature and nuanced reading of the political forces at work – DeGePol is in safe hands with Lizzy, whose insights and analysis are second to none.”

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WA Investor Services Supports Cairngorm Capital investment in E-zec Medical

WA Investor Services is proud to announce it has supported Cairngorm Capital’s investment in E-zec Medical, England’s largest independent provider of Non-Emergency Patient Transport Services. The investment will help support E-zec medical accelerate its growth and allow it to strengthen its data capabilities to deliver enhanced performance and innovation to commissioners and patients.

WA provided political due diligence to support the transaction, drawing on its market leading expertise of NHS commissioning policy and the government reform agenda for health and social care. This insight was supported by the views of key decision makers and policy influencers from across WA’s extensive network.

Commenting on the deal, WA Partner and Head of Investor Services Lizzie Wills said: “We were really pleased to support Cairngorm Capital on this deal. The NHS is going through a period of significant change, transforming its structure and approach to commissioning, which will affect all businesses operating in health and social care. Our deep networks across government and the NHS, and our understanding of how the next round of structural reform will impact the commissioning landscape allowed us to generate valuable insights for the Cairngorm team. Congratulations to everyone involved – we look forward to seeing the business grow over the coming years.”

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WA shortlisted for Agency of the Year awards

WA is proud to have been shortlisted for two Agency of the Year Awards this week.

After winning the coveted CIPR PR Agency of Year award in 2020, WA has again made the shortlist for the 2021 award.

Earlier this week, it was announced that WA has also been shortlisted for the PRmoment Awards for the Independent Agency of the Year.

Adding to the list of recognitions, WA Account Director Jamie Capp has been shortlisted for the CIPR Outstanding Young Communicator Award, and the WA Investor Services team has been shortlisted for the Specialist Advisor category in the Real Deals British Private Equity Awards.

This follows on from WA securing sixth place on the PRWeek Top 150 list for Public Affairs consultancies this month.

WA Managing Director Dominic Church said: “The last 12 months has been challenging for every business, and I am so proud of the dedication and effort shown by the WA team during this time. We have held fast to our ‘people first’ approach. This means we’ve prioritised investment in our team’s wellbeing and training, to ensure they could continue providing outstanding advice and results for our clients.

“We are absolutely delighted to have received such recognition of our success from these industry bodies.”

Winners of these awards will be announced over the coming months.

 

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WA shortlisted for legal, compliance & regulatory consultancy of the year 2022

WA is proud to have been shortlisted as a finalist for the legal, compliance & regulatory category at the 2022 Drawdown Awards.

WA’s Investor Services team has established a reputation for providing the gold standard in political risk analysis. Our team give up-to-the-minute advice to clients and uses its unrivalled political network to go beyond the headlines to share the deepest policy insights and the most accurate, actionable advice for clients.

Investors look to WA Investor Services for in-depth and nuanced analysis of the political dynamics impacting their decisions. We help our clients understand risks, forecast and scenario plan, and provide ongoing intelligence gathering to track issues.

WA Partner and Head of Investor Services Lizzie Wills said: “We are incredibly proud to be finalists in the legal, compliance and regulatory advisory category at this year’s Drawdown Awards. 2021 was a year of rapid expansion for the WA Investor Services team. Despite ongoing challenges for investors as a result of Covid-19, WA built relationships with new clients, expanded our geographic reach, and invested in our own services to deliver a sophisticated, data-driven offer which met evolving client needs.”

 

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WA shortlisted for Political Due Diligence Provider Of The Year 2022

WA is proud to have been shortlisted for Political Due Diligence Provider of the Year at the 2022 Private Equity Awards.

Over 2021 WA cemented its reputation as the gold standard in political risk analysis. Our team gave up-to-the-minute advice to clients and used its unrivalled political network to go beyond the headlines to share the deepest policy insights and the most accurate, actionable advice for clients.

Investors look to WA Investor Services for in-depth and nuanced analysis of the political risks impacting their decisions. We help our clients understand risks, forecast and scenario plan, and provide ongoing intelligence gathering to track issues.

WA Partner and Head of Investor Services Lizzie Wills said: “We are incredibly proud to be shortlisted for Political Due Diligence Provider of the Year. 2021 was a year of rapid expansion for the WA Investor Services team. Despite ongoing challenges for the investment community as a result of Covid-19, WA built relationships with new clients, expanded our geographic reach, and invested in our own services to deliver a sophisticated offer which met evolving client needs.”

 

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WA Investor Services Supports GCP investment in Hippo Digital

WA Investor Services is proud to announce it has supported GCP’s investment Hippo Digital, a digital transformation specialist working across the public and private sector. The investment will help support Hippo’s ambitious growth plan, including meeting a goal of doubling its workforce over the next three years.

WA provided political due diligence to support the transaction, with its team of specialist political risk analysts assessing digital transformation policy across Whitehall and the NHS, as well as reviewing recent and ongoing changes to procurement guidance. This insight was supported by the views of key decision makers and policy influencers from within government, parliament and the NHS.

Commenting on the deal, WA Partner and Head of Investor Services Lizzie Wills said: “We are extremely pleased to have worked with GCP on this deal. How government views procurement across the public sector post-Covid will impact businesses in a variety of sectors, from digital transformation to health and social care. Our deep networks and expertise in navigating decision makers’ approaches to decisions in this area put us in a strong position to support GCP’s successful deal and we look forward to seeing the business develop over the coming years.”

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What is the future for SPACs in the UK?

Why are SPACs currently such a hot topic?

UK investor circles are increasingly interested in the potential impact of SPACs on private and public markets, and whether the SPAC bubble will turn into a longer-term structural game-changer. SPACs are experiencing a boom in the US. Over 200 SPACs were launched in the US in 2020 and 143 SPACs have already launched there in 2021 so far. In 2020, more was raised through SPACs in the US than through traditional IPOs. This has sparked a worry in the investment industry that the UK is losing out on listing activity as SPACs raised a mere £30 million in the UK in 2020. This in turn could affect the UK’s attractiveness as a place for doing business for financial services companies, with the potential for a drain on talent and jobs from London. There is also a worry that US-listed SPACs could snap up UK companies, effectively meaning that they become US-listed companies, further draining business from the UK, and squeezing out UK private equity firms from deals.

This has fed into demands from some industry figures for the UK to adjust its listing rules so that more SPACs can be launched in the UK. The key barrier to UK SPACs is that trading in SPAC shares must be suspended once a deal is announced. This means that those investors who do not support the proposed takeover cannot exit their investment until the deal is complete, meaning their money is locked up for months. A review into UK listing rules set up by the government and led by Lord Hill has recommended this suspension rule be removed to make the UK a more competitive place to list SPACs

Is a change to the rules likely?

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) controls UK listing rules. To make changes to SPAC listing rules, it would have to undertake a consultation on any proposed changes before implementing them. This is in itself no issue, with many industry stakeholders likely to back the changes. However, increasing the competitiveness of the UK financial services system is not a formal regulatory objective of the FCA, unlike regulators in Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong, for example. The FCA’s objectives are to protect consumers, protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system and promote competition in consumers’ interests. Therefore, the FCA’s priority is managing risks in the system to keep it functioning well and protect consumers. This does not necessarily align with demands to increase the UK’s international competitiveness.

Given the impact SPACs could have on the UK investment environment and on investors’ interests, the FCA may be reluctant to ease regulations. The listing costs of SPACs are significantly higher than traditional IPOs. A forthcoming paper in the Yale Journal on Regulation estimates that the median cost of a SPAC deal, relative to the cash delivered to the company in the deal, is a staggering 50.4%, almost double the paper’s estimate of IPO costs to companies going public. Furthermore, these costs are generated precisely because many investors exit the SPAC just before the deal takes place. Under US SPAC rules, investors who exit the SPAC regain their initial investment plus interest but retain their warrants (right to buy further shares at a fixed price). Therefore, they can buy more shares at an often-reduced price. This process dilutes the shareholding of other investors while providing little extra cash to the SPAC, creating costs for the listing.

These high costs are often then reflected in the poor performance of the post-deal share price, with the median return for investors 12 months post-deal for US SPACs being negative 65.3%, meaning investors in the SPAC are normally the ones who suffer from high costs. Adding to these potential woes is the incentive for SPACs’ sponsors to reach a deal, even a bad one, before the time limit for making a deal (normally 2 or 3 years after the SPAC listing) ends. This is because SPAC sponsors tend to do very well out of deals, making a median return of 32% in the US after 12 months and very few making a loss. Therefore, the FCA has reason to be cautious about opening the UK to a SPAC boom by removing the requirement to suspend trading in shares because, as the regulations stand in the US, SPACs often benefit sponsors at the expense of investors.

Perhaps more likely is a change as a result of the Financial Services Future Regulatory Framework Review, currently at the consultation stage. This a wider review of UK financial regulation in the context of the UK’s increased powers post-Brexit. Lord Hill’s Listing Review advocates using this opportunity to give the FCA a target of making the UK financial services industry more competitive, which could then incentivise an easing of rules on SPACs. However, HM Treasury is sceptical of the benefits of a competitiveness objective for regulators in the consultation paper, saying that it risks undermining the objective of a stable financial system.

The government and the FCA are unlikely, therefore, to seek to replicate the US regulatory system for SPACs anytime soon. Any loosening of regulations is likely to be cautious and come with greater investor protections. This reflects the thinking in government that a stable financial system is also an attractive one to the financial services industry. This position is likely to guide the government through changes to financial regulation in the years ahead meaning a SPAC boom is unlikely to reach the UK.

 

 

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WA Investor Services Supports Chatsworth Schools expansion

WA Investor Services is proud to announce it has supported Synova backed Chatsworth Schools successful acquisition of Riverston School and Beech Hall School from The Riverston Group. The Riverston Group is a privately owned education group, known for providing a mainstream educational environment with the highest levels of pastoral care, for children with moderate and mild learning needs. The acquisitions take the number of schools and nurseries in the Chatsworth Schools family to fourteen.

WA provided political due diligence to support the transaction, with its team of specialist political risk analysts assessing the SEND policy outlook in light of the ongoing government SEND review and reviewing the funding landscape. This insight was supported by the views of experts from across the sector, representing national and local government, parliament, the private sector, and the third sector.

Commenting on the deal, WA Partner and Head of Investor Services Lizzie Wills said: “We are extremely pleased to work with Chatsworth Schools and Synova to support their expansion. WA is recognised as a leading provider of political due diligence to support transactions in the education sector and we look forward to our future work in this area.”

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Intern to a full time job: what I learnt at WA

WA new recruit Owen Griffiths shares his journey of applying for an internship and how that led to his new role as Account Executive.

Searching for that first job to launch your career can be a daunting task at the best of times, let alone job searching to the backdrop of a global pandemic. Yet, that has been the reality for many graduates, myself included over the course of the last year – too few jobs for too many applicants. The time spent in 2020 researching and applying for some of London’s top consultancies gave me an opportunity to really reflect on what I needed at this stage of my career.

Having been fortunate to gain valuable experience in another agency already, I was searching for a company where I could hone my skills, focus on an area that suited my passions and learn from some of the industry’s brightest professionals. I was fortunate to have found that at WA. Having been impressed with the company from the exterior, paying above industry average salaries, recently winning the CIPR PR Consultancy of the Year award, and working with an eclectic range of clients in their roster, I had the inkling that this was a company where I would be valued as an individual. A couple of interviews later I was convinced it was.

No conveyor belt here

Any negative preconceptions I may have had about an internship were quickly dispelled from the outset. The infamous hallmarks of internships that turn many people off to them were not present in WA at all. No conveyor belt of mundane admin tasks, picking up odd jobs for people, or spending most of your day refilling the kettle. Immediately I was briefed on the clients I would be working on every day, introduced to consultants from all departments of the company and put to work developing the skills all graduates need to start their careers in this industry.

What struck me most about WA was the value they placed on encouraging candour across all levels of the business. Despite just being an intern, there were expectations on me to commit to learning, to be intellectually curious, and to strive to deliver excellent work for clients.

WA’s greatest strength by far is its people. A lot of firms profess to be a ‘people-first’ firm, but few fully deliver on that mantra. WA doesn’t feel like a team of individuals who simply share an office space; there is a tangible collective drive towards contributing to the company vision. Directors and Executives are equally willing to chat with you, help you manage your time and ensure you get the best out of yourself. There is no sense of hierarchy when it comes to reaching out for support, which as someone finding their feet in the industry, is crucial.

When my internship came to a close, I knew immediately that I wanted to stay on at WA. Fortunately, on the back of many recent successes, WA’s Health department were looking for an Account Executive in their burgeoning team. Fortunate to have been given the chance to apply, two months into my full-time role I am incredibly optimistic about my future here.

For any graduate looking for the best possible start to the industry I cannot recommend WA highly enough.

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How to capitalise on the Super Deduction tax benefit

This roundtable was originally published by Real Deals and features WA’s Head of Investor Services, Lizzie Wills. Please find the original here.

In the wake of the UK Spring Budget announcement, Rhiannon Kinghall Were, head of tax policy at Macfarlanes and Lizzie Wills​, head of investor services at WA Communications, discuss how GPs can take advantage of the Super Deduction tax benefit.

Rhiannon Kinghall Were, head of tax policy at Macfarlanes

The Super Deduction was the surprise in the Spring Budget. There was the expectation around an increase in the rate of corporation tax, which has now increased to 25 per cent as the rumours suggested, and the hike in the rate has been tempered by this new investment incentive. The announced Super Deduction should be a significant incentive to businesses, because not only do they get a deduction for the full cost of investments made in the year of acquisition, but they also get an additional 30 per cent, making it a total of 130 per cent that can be deducted against profits. However, as the Super Deduction is only temporary in nature, companies will feel the full impact of the increase in the rate of corporation tax in 2023.

Unprecedented tax policy

From a global policy perspective, it is unusual that they’ve opted for this measure, I haven’t seen any other country go over 100 per cent before. By way of example, through the Super Deduction if a business makes an investment in plant and machinery of £10m then they get a deduction from their profits of £13m. That provides a potential tax saving of £2.47m.

In terms of where the Super Deduction will impact the PE industry, it will largely be the portfolio companies that invest heavily in ‘plant and machinery’ who will benefit. Many operators in manufacturing, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals and biotech, will be the largest benefactors. Interestingly when you look at total capital allowances claims the financial services sector takes third position, following manufacturing and retail.

Just what is classified as ‘plant and machinery’ isn’t actually defined in legislation but most tangible assets used in business should qualify, whether that’s robots on production lines in factories, electric vehicle charging points or simply computer equipment. If a company is buying new software platforms to be used in business, then that would also qualify. One thing to note is that these deductions do not extend to actually buying a property.

Act quickly

While the 130 per cent deduction is very novel, the extent to which companies will be able to benefit will depend on their circumstances and where they are in their investment cycle.

For instance, the Super Deduction can only be made on new contracts entered into after the budget date. If you had already signed contracts to purchase new equipment that investment would not qualify, as the investment was effectively made before the Super Deduction came into play.

The biggest limitation of the policy is the short window of time. The incentive is only available for two years, from 1 April 2021 through to the end of March 2023. It’s a short timeframe to make a big difference. There is also the caveat that it has to be new items, you cannot deduct the purchase of second-hand items which is significant for manufacturers where there is a good market for second-hand equipment and machinery. My advice to businesses would be to look down the pipeline of where the business is going, if there’s any investments or purchases that you can bring forward now is the time to do it.

Lizzie Wills​, head of investor services at WA Communications

As political risk specialists, WA supports investors and their management teams to understand the often-contradictory messages coming out of government. The last twelve months have shown just how important it is to be able to read these signals, to interpret them, and to be in the strongest possible position to mitigate the risks and capitalise on the opportunities they represent. The Budget has been no exception, and the Super Deduction is a case in point. The announcement has raised several questions about the government’s intentions, not least: What does the announcement tell us about how the government plans to balance the books post-Corona? How is the Treasury going to pull off its ‘spend now, pay later’ promise but minimise the pain that both businesses and taxpayers face in the coming months and years.

Hey Big Spender

The Chancellor’s Budget announcement on the Super Deductions benefit was one of the few that had escaped the extensive media pre-briefing. The Chancellor was understandably keen to soften the ground for many of the planned announcements, not least that the government’s intention to increase corporation tax to 25 per cent in 2023.

Getting to the bottom of the Treasury’s thinking, at least on the face of it, is pretty straightforward. Through measures like the Super Deduction, the Treasury is hoping to supercharge businesses’ appetite to invest – to the tune of £25bn – and to spur on the post-Corona recovery.

It’s an eye-catching pitch, with businesses previously reticent to invest in new plant and machinery potentially now having the impetus to do so. The Government will also be hoping that as an added benefit it supports their headline domestic priority to ‘level up’, given its the big manufacturing firms located outside London and the South East that are most likely to benefit.

What’s the catch? 

There are questions already about whether the Super Deduction is the best way for the Government to spend £25bn. Arguably the majority of the companies benefitting from the tax relief would be making these investments anyway.  It will also add another layer of complexity to a tax regime that already runs to thousands of pages. Not only that, but there are strict eligibility criteria which means that not all firms will be able to access the relief, super deductions are only available to companies subject to corporation tax. Therefore those facing the 25 per cent rise in 2023. Sole traders, partnerships and LLPs are not eligible.

The deduction is also only available for new plant and machinery, rather than second-hand equipment. There may also be additional criteria that firms must meet if they are intending to purchase plant and machinery under a hire purchase agreement, which is pretty standard for SMEs.

A further restriction is the tightly defined period for accessing the deduction, meaning that some businesses might inadvertently miss out. Any investment committed to, ahead of 1 April 2021 won’t be eligible for the relief, and any delays between signing new contracts and incurring costs may have implications for what qualifies as tax deductible expenditure under the new scheme.

Mark Bryant, head of manufacturing at BGF

“Specific improvements in capital allowances that encourage manufacturers to invest in equipment will ultimately improve productivity and competitiveness both internationally and domestically. It is a positive move for the UK economy at large. For many businesses across the country that have faced severe disruption over the last year and are confronting the big challenge of rebuilding their balance sheets, there are still concerns that they may not have the flexibility to make significant capital investments at this time. It will be important to continually assess the extent to which smaller companies are utilising these new tax incentives.”

Simon Wax, partner at Buzzacott 

“The main question for PE firms should be how much do tax deductions influence their buying decisions. Arguably the underlying performance of the business is more significant, however, paying less tax will clearly improve the cash flow forecasts for companies which could be another catalyst for PE houses to get more deals approved in the short term. Another opportunity for PE firms would be where they are looking at buy-and-build strategies that would require their portfolio investment companies to invest in order to see growth and realise returns.”

Andrew Aldridge, partner at Deepbridge Capital.

Growth-focused businesses will ultimately be the backbone of economic recovery. Investors will be working with portfolio companies to assist them in utilising Super Deduction and growth schemes which can assist with either short-term working capital or longer-term growth capital. The past twelve-months have seen unprecedented UK Government initiatives for supporting businesses which, coupled with longer-term initiatives such as the EIS, make the UK one of the best places to scale a business.”

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Balancing the health of the nation with the health of the economy – 10 key takeaways

On 15th October WA hosted an event exploring the difficult decisions facing government in balancing the health of the nation with the health of the economy.

With a second wave of Covid-19 upon the UK and much of Europe, political, media and public pressure is building, and a difficult winter is approaching.

We brought together an expert panel to consider the issues, hosted by WA Director Caroline Gordon. The speakers included Tom Newton Dunn (Chief Political Commentator and Presenter at Times Radio), Poppy Trowbridge (former Special Adviser to the Chancellor and WA Advisory Board Member) and Dr Jonathan Pearson-Stuttard (Epidemiologist at Imperial College London).

It was a wide-ranging debate (watch here if you missed it), but what were the key takeaways?

Here are our top 10 points made during the discussion:

 

1) The prosperity of a nation is inextricably linked to the health of a nation:

The pandemic has taught us the value of public health cannot be underestimated. A legacy of Covid-19 must be a proper review of how we approach public health and what we ask of the NHS.

 

2) Devolved and regional politics has grown in power:

With healthcare devolved to national governments and Metro Mayors exercising influence over local lockdowns, leadership over the pandemic has often come from politicians not based in Westminster. What will this mean for the Government’s agenda beyond Covid-19?

 

3) Government is still stuck in campaign mode and not thinking long term

It’s no great surprise that a government of campaigners would think in campaign terms, but their focus has been too short term and the messaging too ambitious. With the pandemic creating complicated and long-term challenges they need to find a more nuanced way of communicating.

 

4) The libertarian principles of the Government are holding it back from decisive action

The restrictions being introduced to manage the spread of the virus are unprecedented for any democratic government, but they particularly jar with the PM’s brand of libertarianism. That conflict, manifested in hesitation and delays about enacting measures, has surfaced repeatedly through the crisis.

 

5) No 10 and No 11 have been closely aligned, but that could be fraying

There has often been tensions between the inhabitants of No 10 and No 11 Downing Street, but in Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak there has been unusual harmony up to now. That consensus, however, is coming under strain with the Treasury keen to focus on keeping the economy moving and resistant to overly restrictive measures. How this relationship plays out could come to define the rest of this government’s term, particularly with the Chancellor being tipped as the most likely successor to the PM.

 

6) Internally government realise ‘Test & Trace’ is not working

With no clear vaccine timetable or even the promise that one will work, NHS Test and Trace is the only route back to a degree of normality. A fully functional test and trace system was the only reason SAGE agreed to the unlock over the Summer, but the Government’s centralised approach has been beset by problems. Whilst they have not publicly admitted it, quietly they are beginning to shift people and resources towards local test and trace approach which has been much more effective.

 

7) The government could do a lot more to help businesses navigate the crisis

Government offloaded too much responsibility onto businesses and were not clear about how long restrictions were likely to be in place. This uncertainty has meant businesses can’t plan effectively and many have taken an understandably cautious approach because of this. With unemployment rising, the Government needs to find a way to give business the confidence to invest and create jobs.

 

8) The public consensus is fragile compared to the first wave

People feel ‘cheated’ by being ask to lockdown again – they were willing to trust the process first time around, but a lack of faith in the government a second time around (not helped by the Dominic Cummings affair) could undermine the effectiveness of measures for the second wave.

 

9) England and Wales has one of the worst excess death tolls in Europe

Dr Jonathan Pearson-Stuttard’s research has shown that excess deaths in England and Wales were 37% above normal, second only to Spain’s 38% as the worst performance in Europe. When the public inquiry into the handling of Covid-19 finally comes, there will surely be questions to answer.

 

10) The Government’s long-term ambitions are on hold

It may not feel like it, but we are still in the early days of this Government. Elected back in December 2019 with a strong majority, the crisis has put the brakes on the broader policy agenda as they battle to tackle the virus and shore up an unstable party. The Government is a long way from making strides on its domestic agenda, businesses need to try to understand what each Department is trying to achieve despite the virus and bring solutions and opportunities for good news.

 

These are just a handful of takeaways from a wide-ranging and fascinating discussion, you call watch the full video exploring how to balance the health of the nation with the health of the economy here.

 

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Webinar – Balancing the health of the nation with the health of the economy

On Thursday 15th October 2020, WA Communications Director, Caroline Gordon, hosted a webinar exploring how the Government can balance the health of the nation with the health of the economy.

We are living through unprecedented times in which a devastating public health crisis is creating a global economic slowdown.

The Government has to make daily decisions that balance the health of the nation against the health of our economy. Political, media and public pressure is building and a difficult winter is approaching. There are no easy answers – just more questions facing every business and organisation in the UK as to how to respond, plan and communicate.

Panellists included:

 

Watch a recording of the webinar:

 

 

 

 

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Webinar – In conversation with the Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP

On Tuesday 18h November 2020, WA Communications Director, Lisa Townsend, sat down with the Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP to discuss her Early Years Healthy Development Review, the first phase of which will report to the government in January.

The first 1,000 days of children’s lives are critical for their development, and hugely impact their physical health, mental health and opportunity throughout their lives. The potential for the ‘levelling up’ agenda to support the early years is vast, and something we know is on the government’s agenda.

 

The webinar covered a huge range of issues, providing insight on subjects such as:

 

Watch a recording of the webinar:

 

 

 

 

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Webinar – Innovating out of the crisis: What next for transport?

On Monday 30th November 2020, WA brought together a panel of transport experts to examine how industry is adapting to meet the challenge of Covid-19.

We explored the role of government in driving innovation to secure better consumer outcomes, restoring passenger confidence, advancing the net zero agenda and implementing new business models in a world learning to live alongside Covid-19.

Chaired by Marc Woolfson, WA’s Public Affairs Director, we were joined by Professor Phil Blythe CEng FIET, the Department for Transport’s Chief Scientific Adviser and Professor of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) at Newcastle University.

We also be heard from industry leaders who each brought a unique perspective on the changing environment we all face:

• Emily James, Head of Public Affairs, Abellio Group; and
• Peter Stephens, Head of External and Government Affairs, Nissan

The discussion included a question and answer session with the audience.

 

 

 

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Webinar – From Whitehall to Town Hall

On Monday 23rd November 2020, WA Communications Director, Naomi Harris, hosted an expert panel to explore whether the Covid-19 pandemic has caused political power to shift permanently from national to regional and local government.

Watch the discussion to explore:

The panel was comprised of:

  • Joe Anderson, Liverpool Mayor
  • David Collins, Northern Correspondent, Sunday Times
  • Poppy Trowbridge, Former Special Adviser to the Chancellor and WA Advisory Board Member.

 

 

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Webinar – Business Restructuring: managing the aftermath of Covid-19

On Thursday 1st October 2020, WA Communications Director, Lee Findell, hosted a webinar exploring to plan and communicate during a business restructuring process.

The business support measures introduced by the government as we went into lockdown were unprecedented, but with these support schemes beginning to unwind over the Autumn, many businesses are facing difficult decisions on their future structure and are preparing for potentially difficult discussions with employees, suppliers, customers, regulators and policymakers.

Lee was joined by Greg Palfrey, National Head of Restructuring at Smith & Williamson, and Chair of the ICAEW Restructuring Insolvency & Advisory Group who provided advice for businesses that are looking to restructure and the top things they should be considering during this time.

Poppy Trowbridge, former Sky News businesses correspondent and special adviser to Phillip Hammond when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, provided insights on how businesses will need to communicate with government policymakers and the media as they undertake restructuring and change.

Finally, WA Communications’ Sarah Gullo provided some tips on effective communications during a business restructuring to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.

 

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Webinar: In Conversation with Will Tanner

On Wednesday 10th June 2020, WA Communications Director, Lisa Townsend, hosted a discussion with Will Tanner, founding Director of influential centre-right think tank, Onward.

Lisa and Will discussed a wide range of topics whilst exploring how Covid-19 will impact the Government’s long-term agenda, covering economics, public health and the prospect of a green recovery to name a few.

If you missed the webinar live, you can watch a recording of the event by filling in the form below:

 

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Novo Nordisk chooses WA Communications for diabetes brief

WA Communications’ growing health team has been chosen by leading diabetes company Novo Nordisk to drive government affairs in their diabetes business, making the first half of 2020 WA Health’s most successful period to date.

WA Health won a competitive pitch to secure the retained account with Novo Nordisk, supporting the company with their innovative type 2 diabetes portfolio. Head of Health Caroline Gordon will lead the account alongside Associate Director Dean Sowman, working to Dan Beety, Director of Corporate Affairs at Novo Nordisk.

Dan Beety of Novo Nordisk said:

‘‘We put in place a rigorous selection process and were impressed by Caroline and her team. WA’s insight, commitment and enthusiasm shone through. Their approach brought creative ideas that showed a deep understanding of what we’re trying to achieve.”

The wins cap off a strong first half of 2020 for WA’s health team, who also recently won a five way competitive pitch to work with Sanofi’s rare disease franchise.

Earlier this month, WA Communications also won the coveted CIPR Consultancy of the Year award.

To talk to Caroline about your business needs, please get in touch via carolinegordon@wacomms.co.uk.

 

 

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WA awarded prestigious Consultancy of the Year

WA Communications has won the prestigious UK PR Consultancy of the Year award from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), the sector’s main industry body.

In a highly competitive field, the CIPR judges said WA “talks the talk and walks the walk.”

The judges acknowledged the great wins and great work done by WA and said what made WA a standout consultancy is the people-first approach.

“WA Communications should be an inspiration to all. This should be what all agencies aspire to be and do: invest in staff first and reap the rewards,” the judges said.

Dominic Church, Managing Director at WA said, “This award recognises the determination we’ve shown to not only consistently deliver exceptional work for our clients, but to make WA a wonderful place to work. We are incredibly proud of our team – each and every one of them are intelligent and dedicated, and just as importantly, wonderful people in their own right.

“Not only am I privileged to work with such an outstanding group of consultants, we also recognise that we are fortunate to work with fantastic clients who trust us to campaign for them and work alongside them to achieve their commercial and communication goals.”

Some of the standout areas of WA’s performance include:

More of WA’s award winning submission can be seen here.

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WA promotions as WA Health expands the team

WA Health continues to grow as it welcomes Account Manager Ben Latimer to the team.

His hire comes off the back of several recent high-profile health client wins for WA Health, including the Sanofi Genzyme’s UK rare diseases brief and work with Senzer, an innovative UK-based pharmaceutical company manufacturing respiratory devices.

Ben joins WA from another consultancy where he worked with leading global pharmaceutical brands on high level market access issues and across several portfolios including immuno-oncology, cardiovascular disease and osteoperosis. He also specialised in joint working groups between industry and patient groups, and worked with independent healthcare providers to develop best practise in patient-centred care for NHS services.

Caroline Gordon, Director of WA Health said: “It’s an absolute pleasure to have Ben join our growing team. He will be a great addition across a number of our health accounts, bringing his strong and diverse healthcare experience to the table.”

Ben Latimer added: “WA’s reputation has grown in the sector as they’ve delivered outstanding work for clients and continued to win interesting and large briefs. I’m excited to work with Caroline and be part of this this independent agency which clearly takes great pride in the work they do.”

WA has also promoted three of its Senior Account Executives to Account Managers this month across its Public Affairs and Investor Services teams.

Caitlin Fordham, Cameron Wall and Lizzy Cryar have all been promoted in recognition of the effective work and timely advice they consistently deliver for their clients.

Dominic Church, WA’s Managing Director congratulated all three on their promotions: “Despite the extraordinary circumstances we currently find ourselves in, we still believe it is essential to recognise and thank staff for outstanding performance. Lizzy, Caitlin and Cameron are all integral parts of their client teams and I am really delighted to announce their well-deserved promotions”.

 

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WA Communications expands its Public Affairs arm with new director hire

Leading public affairs and corporate communications consultancy WA Communications has appointed a new Director, Naomi Harris, former Chief Operating Officer at Newington Communications, to support its continued growth of expertise.

Naomi brings a love of policy, campaigning and team building to WA Communications, and will be working alongside fellow Director, Marc Woolfson, to drive forward the expansion of the consultancy’s public affairs offer and client portfolio.

A trained journalist, Naomi began her lobbying career at the CBI, first in London and then Brussels, before moving into consultancy. She joined Newington, then Bellenden, in 2012 to build the agency’s award-winning energy practice.

Following Nikki Da Costa’s departure in 2015, Naomi took on the role of Managing Director of the National Public Affairs division. Following a period of sustained divisional growth, she was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in 2017 and left at the end of 2018 to go travelling.

At WA Communications, Naomi will be focusing on developing the consultancy’s footprint in specialisms including energy, transport and tech; education, health and social care. She will be working closely with the Directors of Investor Services and Corporate Communications to ensure the consultancy’s offer is tailored to the evolving needs of clients.

Naomi Harris, Director at WA Communications, says:

“I’ve seen how key sectors – such as the energy and transport – have come under increasing public scrutiny. Just look at how the average person is now far more aware of climate change and how more people than ever are actively involved in campaigning – whether that’s through changes in buying habits, community transport initiatives to improve air quality, social media, or participating in Extinction Rebellion protests.

“This growth in public awareness, understanding and activism is not specific to climate change. All businesses must be aware of these shifts in opinion, as well as clearly communicate their views to the public. My role at WA will build upon the agency’s sterling reputation in public affairs and ensure we are best placed to respond to the changing landscape of policy, politics and communications for the benefit of our clients.”

Dominic Church, Managing Director at WA Communications, says:

“A fundamental part of agency growth is ensuring we are able to offer a comprehensive service to our clients. As issues surrounding sectors such as energy, the environment and transport continue to grow in importance, we want to make sure we’re at the front of these developments.

“Ensuring that our clients continue to receive high quality policy guidance, with a modern-day perspective in mind is integral to our service offering. It is fantastic to have Naomi join our team, allowing us to continue pioneering effective ways of working, supporting our continued agency expansion and innovating practices.”

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Double hire to spearhead corporate communications growth

WA Communications has hired Lee Findell and Sarah Gullo to lead the growth of its corporate communications practice.

Findell joins as Director and Head of Corporate. He brings 19 years of agency experience including Weber Shandwick, Freuds and FTI, and for the last four years as Senior Director at MHP, where he led a team focused on corporate communications and reputation management for brands such as L’Oréal, Coca-Cola, Zurich Insurance and the RAF.

He is joined by Associate Director Sarah Gullo, who has rejoined WA Communications after living abroad for the past 18 months. Formerly in the WA Health team, Gullo has a wealth of in-house and agency corporate communications experience across the health, utilities and development sectors and was a senior political media advisor in Australia.

Together, they will be expanding WA’s corporate communications offer to focus on corporate narrative and positioning, integrated campaigns, crisis communications and business change communications.

Welcoming their appointment, WA Communications Managing Director Dominic Church said: “Lee and Sarah bring impressive national and international corporate comms experience to WA and will build an exceptional team as we expand our reach in the corporate communications field. We are absolutely delighted to have them join the WA team as we continue to grow the agency and bolster our corporate communications credentials.”

PRWeek recently named WA Communications in the top 5 of UK public affairs agencies, and ranked the consultancy 81 in the top 150 PR consultancies.

Findell added: “WA Communications has a strong reputation as a leading public affairs consultancy helping business to address complex commercial challenges, and I am excited to come on board to expand the nascent corporate communications practice as the consultancy continues to go from strength to strength.”

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Fast growing WA starts 2019 with new hires and promotions across the company

Following 25 percent growth in revenue in 2018 across core public affairs, health and investor services, WA Communications is starting the year with a raft of new hires and promotions. These follow a game-changing year for the company, achieving high-profile clients wins and expansion in its service offer across public affairs, investor services and corporate communications.

Dean Sowman joins WA’s health practice as an Associate Director from Portland Communications, bringing a decade of experience in public affairs, market access programmes, disease awareness campaigns and crisis management. He will work alongside Director Caroline Gordon in growing WA as a leading player in the health public affairs and PR market following significant client wins including Bayer and Sanofi.

Internally, Angus Hill has been promoted to Senior Account Director, recognising his pivotal role in cementing WA’s creds across the transport, utilities, and consumer rights sectors. Further promotions include Josh Aulak becoming a Senior Account Manager, and Beatrice Allen an Account Manager.

Announcing the promotions, Dominic Church, Managing Director of WA said:

“WA Communications is at a really exciting time in its growth. Our insight-driven approach and relentless focus on delivering against our clients’ core objectives are making the difference in a crowded market place.

But more than that, we’re determined to be known for being the best people-centred business in the industry. By showing genuine commitment to supporting and developing our team, we’re seeing our whole business thrive. It’s the solid foundation that we’ll build on – for the benefit of both our team and for our clients.”

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WA shortlisted for PR Moment Awards

WA Communications is delighted to have been shortlisted for Independent Agency of the Year in the PR Moment Awards 2019.

The PR Moment Awards are a major fixture in the UK PR and communications calendar and are judged by eminent industry professionals.

The awards celebrate excellence and recognise and reward exceptional campaigns and talent in the UK PR and communications sector.

As a company, WA has had a truly outstanding 12 months.

We’ve moved to new offices, rebranded, won exciting new clients, and bolstered our team with new talent, whilst continuing to deliver innovative and creative strategies for existing clients.

The PR Moment awards aim to celebrate excellence in the public relations industry, reflecting WA’s broad offer across public affairs, corporate communications and investor services.

WA have been shortlisted in the ‘Independent Agency of the Year’ category alongside some other leading agencies. Our independence is an important part of who we are and what makes WA a place that attracts some of the top public affairs and communications consultants in the industry. It allows up to be independent in outlook and ownership, dedicated to big consultancy thinking, coupled with boutique style client service.

Our strong work ethic, commitment to collaboration and real understanding of each of our clients’ businesses mean that we can deliver exemplary public affairs advice on policymaker engagement, corporate communications, crisis management and political risk time and time again.

If you think you have what it takes to work at WA then please get in touch, we are always keen to hear from talented consultants at all levels of experience, or check out our current vacancies on the careers page of our website.

The London & The South awards ceremony will take place at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge in London on 26 March 2020 – wish us luck!

 

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Growth and client success sees WA rise into top 5 PA agencies in the UK

WA has been ranked in the top five in the PRWeek top 150 UK Public Affairs Consultancies 2019, rising from tenth spot last year.

WA’s Managing Director Dominic Church said:

“We are delighted to be recognised as one of the five leading public affairs agencies in the UK.

“This is thanks to the incredible talent and dedication of our team, and reflective of the real results we achieve for our clients.”

WA has continued to build on its significant growth over the past 24 months and was also ranked 77 on the PRWeek Top 150 UK PR consultancies 2019, rising from the 89th spot in 2018.

“We are continuing to expand our wider corporate communications offer and we look forward to providing our clients with a more integrated service for all their communications and public affairs needs,” he said.

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Bayer appoints WA Health to lead government affairs for cardiovascular disease

WA Health, the specialist health practice of WA Communications, has been appointed by Bayer to lead the government affairs brief for their blockbuster cardiovascular brand.

WA was brought in following a competitive pitch and will focus on supporting market access preparations for their expansion into coronary or peripheral arterial disease (CAD / PAD) as well as Bayer’s traditional stronghold in anticoagulation for stroke prevention.

The account is being led by WA Health’s director Caroline Gordon, who joined the company last summer from Incisive Health, reporting to Bayer’s Government and Industry Affairs Manager, Andrew Brown.

Andrew Brown, Bayer’s Government and Industry Affairs Manager said:‘We’re very happy to be working with the team at WA on our cardiovascular disease government affairs brief. WA’s ideas really stood out to us during the pitch process and we’re excited to be working with them during this critical phase. We’re confident it’s going to be a strong partnership.’

Caroline Gordon, Director at WA said: ‘This is a flagship win for WA Health and exactly the kind of work we thrive on. We’re delighted to add Bayer to our growing client list. It’s been a really strong few months for the WA team across our specialisms in health and wellbeing and we’re all hugely looking forward to building on this success in 2019.’

This win comes off the back of a successful period for WA Health, having recently secured projects across Sanofi’s oncology portfolio, corporate communications for Takeda and retained work supporting the UK launch of Camurus’ opioid replacement therapy treatment.

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WA shortlisted for PRCA’s Public Affairs Award

We are delighted to announce WA Communications has been shortlisted for the Consultancy Campaign of the Year in the Public Relations and Communications Association’s (PRCA) Public Affairs Awards.

A panel of experts from the industry chose our campaign to save the UK’s cash network with Cardtronics as one of the most successful campaigns of the past 12 months. The winner will be determined by the judging panel.

Our strategy blended together hard evidence and emotive storytelling to illustrate the impact of a reduction in access to cash through ATMs would have on people right across the UK including vulnerable groups, rural communities and businesses. Through this we stopped the development of “cash deserts” across the UK. By engaging with parliamentarians, officials, regulators and third-party stakeholders, WA was able to raise awareness of the impact and rally support to scrutinise the decision further and secure political commitments to protect access to cash in the UK.

Commenting on WA’s campaign, Duncan Faithfull, Director of Corporate Relations at Cardtronics, said:

“The WA team were absolutely central to the success of Cardtronics’ campaign to ensure the interchange fee in the UK remains at a level that supports universal access to cash. Their ability to access ministers, officials and parliamentarians was impressive, and they tapped into the agenda of the day to ensure the threat to ATMs was front and centre of the policy debate.

WA applied pressure in all the right places to ensure government was fully aware of our campaign, leading to the Chancellor of the Exchequer confirming his commitment to access to cash in his Spring Statement; an invaluable breakthrough.

WA went to great lengths to understand our business needs, and to make sure they worked with us in a way that suited our culture. They were always on hand to support the team and were a vital resource, both in terms of their insight and responsiveness”.

WA Communications gets to the heart of our clients’ policy, regulatory and reputational issues to develops insight led campaigns with maximum impact. We help out clients engage in the decisions impacting their commercial environment and build bespoke and creative strategies which suit their needs.

The awards ceremony, where the winners will be announced, will take place on 29th November 2018 at Park Plaza London Riverbank, 18 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7TJ.

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WA Investor Services shortlisted for Specialist Due Diligence Provider of the Year

We are delighted to announce WA Investor Services has been shortlisted as the Specialist Adviser of the Year in Unquote’s 2019 British Private Equity Awards.

The shortlist was selected by a panel of experts from the industry, to showcase innovation and excellence within UK private equity.

The winner will be determined by a public vote, considered alongside the judging panel’s decision. Voting is now open, you can support us by casting your vote here.

Investors look to WA Investor Services for in-depth and nuanced analysis of the political risks impacting their decisions. We help our clients understand risks, forecast and scenario plan, and provide ongoing intelligence gathering to track issues.

Our insight and ability to reach the heart of the commercial implications of the current political situation have proved invaluable for our clients and their investments. Over the last 12 months we have expanded our global and technical expertise, working on projects as diverse as the Polish legal framework and UK broadband regulation.

The awards ceremony, where the winners of the awards will be announced, will take place on 1 October 2019 at The Brewery, London, EC1Y 4SD

 

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Prosecco & political insight for WA’s summer party

Thursday 11 July was a warm, balmy evening – perfect for our Annual Summer Party! The evening was a great opportunity for us to celebrate and look back over the first half of what has already been another successful year for WA – and of course to look forward to more success for the rest of 2019.

We were delighted to be joined by Katy Balls, the Deputy Political Editor of the Spectator and host of the Women with Balls podcast, who was on hand to talk us through her understanding of the current political landscape and give us her predictions for the Conservative leadership election. Katy quipped that it was great to be at a Westminster Summer Party where the speaker wasn’t vying for the job of Chancellor – not yet at least.

Whilst much of Westminster has all but accepted that the next leader of the Conservative Party is going to be Boris Johnson, this is not a dead cert according to Katy, who told us that not as many Tory party members have returned their postal ballots as had been anticipated. This means that there is still a lot for both Johnson and Hunt to play for, and a lot of room for both candidates to get things wrong.

As to the candidates’ respective popularity with the parliamentary party, Johnson is now a lot more popular amongst his colleagues than had been previously thought – which we saw evidence of with his dominance of the parliamentary ballots. The parliamentary party needs a Brexiteer like Johnson to fend off the threat of the Brexit Party. However, Katy told us that it could also be put down to the Johnson campaign being a tighter ship than it was in 2016, being comprised of a strong team of experienced and respected advisers.

So, if it is to be a Johnson premiership, what would the government look like? Where May was often perceived to be threatened by the big names in her cabinet (leading her to choose loyalty over ability), Katy’s view is that Johnson is happy to have a team of Tory party A-Listers, and that he wouldn’t shy away from playing factions off against each other. Expect to see former leadership rivals in senior posts, and the return to the frontbench of Johnson loyalists.

Yet it is important to remember that the change in leader does not change the numbers in parliament, and the new leader is set to face many of the same challenges faced by May in terms of trying to push a Brexit deal through parliament.

Interestingly, Katy told us that Johnson is not as opposed to holding a second referendum as many might think, though it would be a last resort and he would, of course, campaign again for the ‘leave’ faction. Yet he would also likely pitch himself as a centrist and a liberal, Cameronite “One Nation” Tory to try to appeal to the middle ground of the electorate.

It was an informative discussion that helped to make the political climate seem a lot less murky – for now at least. We hope that everyone who attended found it as interesting and entertaining as we did.

A special thanks to Katy Balls for entertaining us with her insights, and to all our guests for joining us for a fantastic evening.

We hope to see you all at our next party!

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Industry’s future leaders enjoy an evening with The Times’ Esther Webber

This week, WA Communications hosted its first evening for young professionals. This was to demonstrate the importance of young people across the industry sharing networks and information, as well as reflect the diversity of experience here and across sectors. It was an opportunity to ensure often overlooked voices within the industry are heard, as well as for young professionals to find out what was really happening across politics and policy. WA welcomed young professionals from across politics, policy, public affairs and industry to our offices for an evening of discussion on the current political milieu, taking in Brexit, the Conservative Party leadership race and what the future might hold.

Hosted by WA’s own Rebecca Brake, The Times’ Esther Webber delivered the key note speech and summed up the entirety of British politics in just a few short minutes…almost. Esther began by saying she was glad she could make it given this week was supposed to be the last throw of the dice for the Withdrawal Agreement, and although the Prime Minister had since resigned, if anybody could still bring forward the Bill after that it was her.

Reflecting on the relief of journalists no longer having to talk about the Snell Amendment, Malthouse Compromise or the Cooper-Letwin Bill, discussion then moved on to the Conservative leadership race. From Hunt’s foreign languages to McVey’s views on Brexit (she quite likes it!), Esther covered all the key people and what their ascension to the throne might mean. And of course if there was anything we needed clearing up, Rory Stewart would no doubt be along shortly. Unfortunately he was otherwise engaged, but we’re sure he’ll make his way to our offices soon.

Concluding that Boris Johnson was the most likely to combine the necessary characteristics of ardent Brexiteer and populist, discussion moved on to what the year had in store: a first Brexit Party MP; Prime Minister Johnson; Prime Minister Corbyn; and the seventh or eighth splintering of Change UK. The bar for surprise in modern politics seems to be extremely high, and yet we keep on raising it.

In an informative Q&A session, topics ranged from Brexit (surprisingly), the Tory leadership contest, and when things will return to normal (answer: who knows). You can find a full summary of questions and answers on our Twitter feed.

To round off the evening there were drinks, dips and deep house, and no small amount of networking across sectors. This was an opportunity for all attendees to find out what was really going on across the industry and in politics, away from the headlines and official statements. We hope all those who attended found it as useful as we did.

A special thanks to Esther Webber for providing her valuable insights and trademark humour to the evening, and to all those who attended to make it as interesting and informative as possible. We hope to see you all again soon.

WA will be hosting a number of further events over the course of the year aimed at all sectors and demographics, including additional young professionals events. If you would like to stay up to date with what we’ve got going on email info@wacomms.co.uk to subscribe to updates.

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