The PRmoment Podcast: The rise, the fall and the rise of Porter Novelli

On the show this week we’re talking to Fenella Grey EMEA managing director & chair at Porter Novelli. Porter Novelli has had an interesting few years. Brad MacAfee took over from Karen van Bergen as Porter Novelli’s global CEO in 2016 and he was replaced by ex McKinsey executive David Bentley in early 2020.

But a constant throughout this period was Fenella Grey who headed up the London office and is now leading the agency across EMEA.

Porter Novelli is part of the Omnicom PR group and has 85 people in its London office.

Omnicom PR has global venues of $1.39 billion in 2021. 

Today we’re going to talk to Fenella about the challenges of being a mid-sized firm surrounded by giants and how Porter Novelli in EMEA has reinvigorated itself over the last 12 months

Just a nudge to remind you all about the early entry deadline for The Creative Moment Awards on Friday 27th May 2022

Thanks as ever to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors The PRCA.

Here’s a summary of what Fenella and PRmoment founder Ben Smith chatted about:

2 mins What has Porter Novelli got right and what has it got wrong over the few years?

5 mins At one point Porter Novelli very much positioned itself as a Purpose agency - did that not really work out?

6 mins When does an agency specialism become a growth constrictor?

8 mins What kind of agency is Porter Novelli now?

10 mins Fenella gives her perspective on why mid-size firms are thriving at the moment.

“The old fashioned hub and spoke model is no longer fit for purpose”

12 mins Porter Novelli had 22% growth across EMEA last year, so it's outperforming the rest of Omnicom PR which had 6% growth in 2021. What accounts for that difference in growth rates?

13 mins Porter Novelli EMEA had a 96% employee retention rate last year, with a 40% increase in headcount.

16 mins Fenella talks to us about The Omnicom Tech Stack. What exactly is it and why does Fenella describe it as “transformative” to Porter Novelli.

18 mins On the personal side of things Fenella went down to 2 days a week in 2019 and has returned to 4 days a week - what happened to her side hustles?

21 mins Did Fenella’s experiences during the COVID years make her better at her job?

24 mins Did lockdown make PR agencies better employers?

“Taking a talent first approach pays in the long term”

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