Reputation management ABS to launch communications consultancy

Imison: New terrain requires a new map

Schillings – the multi-disciplinary London law firm that operates as a reputation management business – is launching a strategic communications business.

It has hired Victoria O’Byrne, formerly communications director to the Prince and Princess of Wales, and a one-time political editor of The Sun, George Pascoe-Watson, as the founding partners of the new business.

Schillings, which built its own reputation acting for high-profile individuals in suing the media, became an alternative business structure a decade ago and has created a multi-disciplinary business of which legal advice is just one part of the whole – it also offers intelligence, investigations, security and strategy services.

“We are the only business in the world to deploy – under one roof – media experts, data protection lawyers, litigators, experts from military intelligence, investigative journalists, international investigators, cyber security specialists, digital forensic experts and senior people from the military, police and government,” it says.

Schillings said the new business was a 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”.

David Imison, CEO of Schillings explained: “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.”

The new company will be formally launched in January 2024. Ms O’Byrne is also formerly communications director for Sir Richard Branson at Virgin Group as well as for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Mr Pascoe-Watson joins from Portland Communications, where he has been UK chairman for the last three years.

Schillings’ most recent accounts, for the year to 30 April 2022, show it made a profit of £8.4m on a turnover of nearly £21m.

Last year, the firm invested in Hush, a US-based artificial intelligence privacy start-up that enables customers to track their digital footprints and remove personal information, following on from an investment in another US start-up, online reputation specialist Legendary, which employs experts in digital reputation and online crisis management to help protect reputations.

They form part of the Schillings’ digital communications division, which aims to help clients take control of their digital assets and communications.

Its other divisions cover litigation and disputes, intelligence and investigations, and critical risk, physical and cyber-security.

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