Instinctif Partners demonstrated exceptional professionalism and commitment, and consistently and systematically push their values through the organisation. The judges were impressed by the agency’s diversity commitments, including blind CVs and flexible working, and the leadership they demonstrate in the apprenticeship area. They challenge existing metrics and analytics for clients, alongside undertaking a rigorous external assessment of their own performance. Inspiring is the enthusiasm and dedication the agency shows for the future.


  • Headland Consultancy
  • The PHA Group

Winner entry:

Date of incorporation, number of employees – including executive / support staff – and annual fee income:

  • January 2014 (as Instinctif Partners)
  • December 2006 (as College Group)

Staff: 450

2017 annual fee income: £38.9 million, 10% year-on-year growth.

Business objectives and analysis of performance against budget over the past three years:

Founded in 2006 as a consultancy predominantly focused on financial communications, in 2014 we rebranded as Instinctif Partners, bringing together our six practice areas – Capital Markets, Corporate, Public Policy, Engagement, Insight & Research, and Content & Creative – to create our unique interconnected approach.

Our three key objectives:

  • Harness our interconnectedness:

Our expertise covers all aspects of reputation, influence, branding and engagement. We connect our skills to build comprehensive, coherent teams to surpass each client’s communication goals through effective campaigns. Our interconnected revenue (from two or more practice areas) has grown 83% in three years.

  • Grow internationally:

As a truly international agency, we are proud that each of our 20 offices around the world has significantly contributed to our growth.

  • Develop our culture to enrich our industry and our people:

We create a culture in which our people can develop professionally and give back to our industry and community. As a business, while we are driven to grow with our clients, we are not only for profit. We do not believe every business deserves a voice, and have declined work on that basis.

Fee income:

2015:  £34.9 million

2016:  £35.3 million

2017:  £38.9 million

Our fee income has increased annually without interruption for over a decade, and throughout this time we have consistently delivered profit margins between 10 to 15%.

A brief overview of business / team strategy:

With 450 staff in 20 offices across Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and the Middle East, we help brands at every stage of their growth, from multinational corporations to start-ups, create real and measurable value.

We have clear strategies and initiatives to work towards our three key objectives: to advance our interconnected offer, grow internationally, and further develop our culture and enrich our industry.

In delivering innovative campaigns to help our clients meet their commercial goals, our vision is to be the leading international, independent, interconnected communications consultancy.

A summary of commitment to CPD and professionalism:

We invest in varied opportunities for our employees to develop professionally and deepen their knowledge, creating an environment where our people can grow.

98% of individuals are proud to work with us and we have an 89% annual staff retention rate.

Career-focused appraisals:

Our appraisals ensure every individual is moving towards self-driven career goals. Biannual appraisals are based on clear, honest feedback including 360-degree views from all team members. Conclusions then link directly to training programmes through our Academy of Excellence.

Academy of Excellence:

In its sixth year, our pioneering training academy, run with the PRCA, gives our people diverse opportunities for professional development. Offering employees access to an array of funded training courses, the platform enables training in a variety of skills alongside industry-specific expertise towards self-mapped goals.


Staff surveys highlighted employees wanted more cross-disciplinary learning opportunities. In 2017 we launched mindjuice, our platform for bringing innovation into our business, including specialist workshops and sessions with experts from different fields (including a former martial arts world champion).

Lunch & Learns:

We are lucky enough to have experts across dozens of sectors, so we tap into and share this knowledge through regular interactive ‘lunch & learns’ from our specialists.


Our international exchange programme helps connect our business, providing employees with the opportunity to take a 2-3 week placement to our international offices. Over 50 employees have completed placements in the past three years.

Charity Partnerships:

We encourage people to pursue their passions. Employees are given an extra day of leave for charitable work and we often support longer projects, including helping a London charity manage donations following the Grenfell Tower fire.

A summary of recent outstanding achievements, including client list growth / retention:

In 2017, a year in which we really made our mark, we posted double-digit annual revenue growth and retained 92% of our clients.

This year, we added iconic global brands to our client network, including Bacardi, Tapestry, and Airbnb.

We were chosen for our innovative approach to solving client challenges, which in 2017 included:

  • Using a purpose-built app to help launch a New York fashion brand, Tapestry
  • Supporting Ofo, the world’s first dockless bike-sharing platform, launch throughout the UK
  • Coordinating a global hackathon for Bacardi
  • Using virtual reality in Scout 24’s digital report
  • Working with Cushman & Wakefield on their £1.3 billion sale of the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building in London
  • Completing our largest IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, as Razer achieved a market capitalisation of USD$4.4 billion

In 2017, we advised on the year’s first retail IPO, supported 34 M&A transactions worldwide worth a total of £3.4 billion, and with 43 FTSE350 listed clients are the UK’s joint second-largest financial PR firm (by listed clients; ARL Advisor Rankings).

In an independent external review of our client relationships by PWC, we were given a Net Promoter Score was 83 (above 70 is considered world class).

We were recognised in over 25 industry awards over 2017, including winning:

  • International Agency of the Year 2017 – PR Week Global Awards
  • City Agency of the Year 2017 – PRCA City & Financial Awards
  • EMEA Independent Consultancy of the Year 2017 – SABRE Awards

A summary of a campaign you are particularly proud of, including details of the brief, objectives, strategy, tactics, outputs, outcomes and budget:

Aviva wanted to create a communications campaign to reach and engage the UK’s older workforce.


  • Reach Aviva’s core retirement savings customers and over-50s workers
  • Promote Aviva’s retirement and savings proposition
  • Raise Aviva’s profile in the financial planning arena with influencers, media and policymakers


We reimagined Aviva’s flagship Real Retirement Report as a multi-channel campaign highlighting common perceptions, experiences and challenges facing older workers.

First, we conducted a digital discovery project to understand our target audience’s online behaviour to optimise content and campaign channels.

We then ran a study of 3,300 over-50s to uncover numerous insights, summarised into two thought leadership reports.

We released multiple stories to media throughout the campaign, including podcasts, blogs, infographics and interactive polls, for B2B, B2C, political and internal audiences.


  • 176 pieces of media coverage, a 167% increase from the 2015-2016 campaign
  • 38 pieces of national coverage, including the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, BBC News Online and the Daily Mail – more than twice the average of previous campaigns
  • Aviva spokespeople were interviewed live on Sky News and BBC News
  • Over 4,800 interactions on social media, a 462% increase year-on-year rise
  • #AvivaRRR content gained over 1.2 million social media views.