Huntsworth’s CEO Paul Taaffe recently spoke about Grayling, one of their PR affiliate companies, saying: “Broadly [Grayling] has become a happier place. We did client wins around the world last year, and we also fired a number of clients because it what pretty clear that, for whatever reason, they were exploitative clients.”
That may be part of the reason that Grayling saw falling like-for-like sales in 2016 of 17.4%, along with a restructuring process that began in 2015 and closing several of their offices including their Swedish office, Hudson Sandler in London, and Whiteboard Advisors – a US lobbying group. Now the restructuring is completed, they are again seeing success in areas including Eastern Europe, taking business from rivals in places like Poland and Russia.
Speaking about the “exploitative clients,” Taaffe said: “I think there’s an element of that [client’s expecting too much for what they pay], but equally if you’re an agency and you’re so addicted to revenue, you allow yourself to be abused as well.”
Taaffe also said they had discussed the issues with clients and some made changes while others weren’t amenable, so Grayling walked away from further work with those clients. Some of the clients they have since added to their roster include Techonomy, and for public affairs – Lloyds Banking Group.
Grayling is not currently willing to say who the released clients are, but checking former clients that have picked up new representation during 2016 and 2017, here’s who we found making changes – again, there is no verification for why these clients changed.
Western Union consolidated their global PR and let go several agencies including Grayling in January 2017.
Allianz Worldwide Care left in January 2017.
Qatar Foundation left the Doha office’s representation in February 2016.
Avis Budget Group in London consolidated their PR and severed ties with Grayling in January 2016
They picked up other new business from:
Virgin Trains – Gorkana for public affairs work.
Marks & Spencer just added Grayling March 2017.
Swiss Business Hub Russia (an entity of the Swiss Embassy in Moscow) in October 2016
Chinese firm, Blue Focus joined Grayling in the Spring of 2016
Whatever happened in the past, it looks like Grayling has reset their sales for success and are picking up speed.