Schillings launches new strategic communications business

Two of Britain’s leading communications specialists are to build a brand-new specialist reputation consultancy, backed by global reputation, privacy and security advisers Schillings.

Victoria O’Byrne and George Pascoe-Watson are founding partners of the new business. They will work hand in hand with Schillings’ current partnership to complement its multidisciplinary model.

This new Schillings venture will make the group the first of its kind in the market, offering clients a multi-disciplinary model of legal, intelligence, investigations, security, strategy and communications all under one roof.

The new business is being built in response to an increasingly complex world where licences to operate for individuals and organisations have become dependent on reputation, now made in both the court of law and the court of public opinion.

In the modern age of intensified scrutiny, digital and privacy threats, smear campaigns, complex reputation risks and overnight cancel culture – super-charged by the ultra-high pace of the digital age – today’s contested space requires a broader and deeper bench of experts.

The new Schillings company will be formally launched in January 2024 and will spearhead a new approach to communications, providing clients with senior counsel and support during ‘high stakes’ opportunities and threats. Clients can now benefit from a full suite of complementary tools at their disposal, delivered by an integrated, multidisciplinary team of senior experts, who have held the highest positions in their respective industries.

O’Byrne was formerly communications director to the Prince and Princess of Wales and for Sir Richard Branson at Virgin Group, and was a communications director on the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

She began her career as a communications specialist at the Labour Party under former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and has spent 24 years working in politics, public policy, business and sport.

Pascoe-Watson joins the practice from Portland Communications where he served for 14 years, and as UK Chairman for the last three.

He had previously spent 22 years on The Sun newspaper where he rose to become the Political Editor, seen as the most influential role in UK media.

At Portland, Pascoe-Watson has advised the leaders of some of the world’s best-known companies. His broad range of experience includes regulated utilities, food manufacturers, retail, international sport, professional services, defence manufacturing, chemicals, philanthropic foundations, charities and the third sector. He also advises high profile individuals.

David Imison, CEO of Schillings said: “With the pace of technological change, intensified scrutiny, proliferation of falsehoods and the ramification of cultural and generational fault lines, the reputational terrain has never been so complex to navigate. This new terrain requires a new map.

“We are launching a strategic communications consultancy alongside our legal, intelligence, investigations, and security practices to offer clients world-class counsel – the first of its kind under one roof.

“Our integrated approach will mean that clients have the resilience they need to capitalise on high-stakes opportunities and successfully manage high-stakes threats.”