This is an interview with Montieth & Company CEO, Montieth Illingworth on Public Relations in the Wake of Covid-19
Montieth & Company is a global communications consultancy that provides a comprehensive set of communications solutions to deliver high-value, measurable outcomes. The firm was founded by Montieth Illingworth in 2007. Today, the firm operates through global hubs in New York, London and Hong Kong from which it provides fully integrated communications solutions for clients in single and multiple money and media markets worldwide.
What is unique about Montieth & Company compared to other PR agencies, and how has that informed your view during this crisis?
Our clients are spread across the Americas, Europe, and Asia and represent multiple sectors. They are experiencing the pandemic in very different ways. Our role as their PR agency is to support them through this challenging period. Our inter-disciplinary capabilities in public relations, public affairs, issues management and crisis communications have become particularly valuable for our clients in these circumstances. For instance, several clients have accelerated their business planning to take advantage of the need for digital transformation, and our marketing communications solutions have been a big asset for them.
You founded the company in 2007, shortly before the Great Financial Crisis. How does your experience of that period compare to this current economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic?
The implications of the Great Financial Crisis became rapidly apparent after the bankruptcy of Bear Stearns. We saw this first hand supporting a client who was a limited partner investor in Bear Stearns’ mortgage-backed securities funds. Today’s crisis is more multi-faceted, as there are wide-ranging health, social, political, business, economic implications. Still, we know from our experience in 2008 that if there’s anything more important than anticipating issues it’s being adaptable to our clients’ needs. We’ve taken on several new clients in recent months because they see the value we provide in that regard.
What are some of the challenges your clients are facing during this crisis?
We’ve seen a broad uptick in demand for PR and marketing communications during this crisis. Asset managers want to be even more transparent with their clients about the market environment and their investment strategies. Transportation and manufacturing companies have seen a nosedive in demand, forcing them to cut costs and shore up their balance sheets to maintain liquidity as best they can. That needs to be communicated to shareholders, and how they’re positioned for a return of demand. But there are corporations across sectors also taking advantage of weakness in their competitors and grow their own market share, both organically and through M&A, and want to highlight that strength to their investors.
As a global communications agency with hubs in New York, London and Hong Kong, how did Montieth & Company adapt to working remotely?
We started working remotely from early-March. We’ve had a cloud-based document management system for 7 years so remote document workflow was easy. While the transition was smooth, we sought to improve our own communications by tuning into how we were all experiencing this crisis differently.
How do you think public relations will evolve in the wake of Covid-19?
Clients will expect their PR firms to be more flexible, with inter-disciplinary practices that are leaner, nimbler, and more budget-efficient across markets. Work-from-home culture means that more firms are going to realize that you don’t have to be physically present in a media market to achieve results for clients. Teams can be matrixed and located anywhere. The key is hiring educated, multi-lingual and open-minded individuals from diverse backgrounds. But above all else, we have to adapt with the client as their own businesses transform in the new reality that we’ve all had to embrace