Maitland opens political arm

By Alec Mattinson, PR Week UK, Friday, 25 March 2011 12:00AM

Maitland has become the latest financial comms specialist to seek a foothold in the public affairs sector after launching a political arm.

The agency has established Maitland Political after merging with Havas sister agency Euro RSCG Apex Communications, run by former Labour special adviser Ed Owen and ex-Weber Shandwick director Peter Bowyer.

Neil Bennett, Maitland's chief executive, called the venture 'the biggest thing to happen to the agency for a decade'. He argued that the lines between financial PR, the investment community, government and public affairs were blurring and the agency was responding to client demand.

Owen claimed Maitland's existing client base offered potential for early growth and that the move was evidence of 'barriers breaking down' between comms disciplines.

A number of agencies traditionally known for public affairs work have looked to push into the corporate and financial space recently, notably Hanover and Portland. However, fewer financial PR agencies have been able to build durable public affairs practices. Finsbury and College Hill run well resourced operations, but leading Labour lobbying agency LLM struggled after acquisition by FD.

According to insiders, Apex revenues have remained largely flat over the past year, while the six-figure account of key client the British Beer & Pub Association was lost to Hanover in December.

Since setting up in 2005, Apex built a reputation as being close to the Labour government. But it has looked to boost its cross-party credentials since the 2010 general election. The agency hired Conservative Party adviser James Drewer from Bell Pottinger in July and has now recruited Alison Goldsworthy, deputy chair of the Liberal Democrats Federal Executive.

Maitland Political will encompass existing senior staff, including Brian Cattell, chairman of Conservative-leaning think-tank The Bow Group, and former Tory parliamentary candidate Peter Lyburn.

This article was first published on PR Week UK

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