TOP TEN REPUTATION MANAGERS
‘We must be the lowest-profile PR firm in the country,’ says Fane-Saunders. Private Eye
may have called them secretive, but that’s not really true, says the firm’s CEO: ‘We are very, very discreet professionally. We think our clients have the right to expect that.’
An experienced media hand, Fane-Saunders established the first foreign PR business in China and headed up Asia Pacific operations for Hill + Knowlton (at that time the world’s largest PR firm) before moving to H+K’s New York HQ, where he assumed responsibility for its international business and became the youngest ever member of its world board.
He then moved to Burson-Marsteller (also then the world’s largest PR firm during his tenure) as chairman and CEO of its UK operations, before establishing his own, rather more boutique firm, Chelgate.
Its mission? To tackle ‘sensitive’ issues and crises, and international PR and reputation management assignments on behalf of governments and government bodies, landowners, ‘distinguished individuals and national leaders’, multinational businesses, family offices, educators, and clients in reputation-sensitive sectors, such as healthcare and childcare, charities, gambling, the arts,
and political movements.
What makes a great PR firm in an arena increasingly crowded with upstarts? ‘Always, quality of judgment,’ he says. ‘And this will be shaped by intelligence, perception and experience.’ But credibility and requisite integrity are just as important: ‘Great reputation management professionals will never debase the currency of their reputation by lying, misleading or cheating. Even clients in the most difficult situations can be best protected without resorting to these things.’
‘Once you are not trusted, once your credibility is gone, you are of little value to your organisation or those you represent.’