A former Porter Novelli global head has made a confident start with the launch of his own Birmingham-based communications consultancy, despite the downturn in the economy.
Sutton Coldfield-born Jonathan Hemus, former global head of crisis and issues management at international PR agency Porter Novelli, set up Insignia at the end of last year.
The firm specialises in corporate reputation management, crisis and issues communication, communication coaching and change communication.
“Since launching less than two months ago, we have already secured three sizeable clients,” said Mr Hemus.
“While there’s no hiding from the challenges of the economy – and there’s certainly no slush fund to lavish on random spin doctoring – there is demand for high-quality, purposeful communication targeted directly at meeting business imperatives.”
The firm has brought in media director Ben McCarthy to work with Mr Hemus.
Mr McCarthy began his career at BBC Radio WM and presented BBC Midlands’ Inside Out programme as well as reporting and presenting for Sky, ITN and the BBC.
Completing the team are associate directors Kirsten Parrish and Alex Bland.
“The organisations we are working for see that a strong reputation fuelled by effective communication can drive competitiveness in tougher market conditions,” said Mr Hemus.
“In an environment where some businesses are fighting for survival, the need for thorough crisis and issues management is crucial.”
The firm has developed a diagnostic tool called ICRA to assess the extent to which organisations are geared up to handle potential crises and incidents.
Mr Hemus said it was “business critical” for firms to be prepared to manage incidents well and be seen to do so.
“We’re also working with companies that are looking at ways to reduce their cost base to stay competitive by moving operations from western Europe to lower-cost economies.
“The market may demand this, and the sums may add up, but unless the changes are communicated well – to employees, investors, customers, the media – they can cause major reputational damage, virtually negating the financial benefits they bring.
“So, well planned, thoughtful communication is in high demand here too”.
Mr Hemus was a director at Porter Novelli for nine years, heading both its global crisis and issues service and its UK corporate practice. He worked for clients including Gillette, Procter and Gamble, Hewlett Packard, the NHS, Disney and the International Cricket Council.
“I have worked with many organisations to help them create, promote and protect their reputations and I now want to take this expertise and provide it from my own consultancy”, he said.