Sentio advises Words & Pictures on the sale to Definition Agency

Sentio Partners has advised Words&Pictures (W&P) – the highly regarded internal communications and employee experience agency – on its sale to Definition, the multi-award winning reputation management agency with offices in London, Leeds & Dubai, in a move that will create a new force in ‘inside & out’ communication delivery for brands, business leaders and organisations.

The deal marks Definition’s second acquisition in under three years following its purchase of Limelight in 2018. The transaction unites the two award winning businesses to work in partnership to drive recognition, engagement and growth for clients through seamlessly integrated internal and external communication.

The new, multi-million turnover group has a combined 40 years of experience working for global brands across reputation management and employee engagement. It now ranks in the Top 5 specialist B2B PR & communications agencies in the UK and boasts a combined tally of 280 UK and international awards covering a wide range of work in corporate communications.

The enlarged team includes communication & employee engagement specialists, reputation and crisis management experts, former national print & broadcast journalists, design creatives, editorial and content producers and digital marketing teams.  

The group’s portfolio of clients spans financial and legal services, motoring and transport, health and wellness, plus education and tech. It includes Direct Line Group, Mercedes-Benz UK, Southeastern Trains, Phoenix Group, Astrid & Miyu, Benenden Health, Nautilus International, Nexus, Winston & Strawn and the University of Leicester.

The acquisition will see W&P founder Tony Layton become a non-executive director and vice chairman on the Definition Agency Group board along with W&P Managing Director Andy Holt. The two long-time colleagues will work alongside Definition’s Chairman Nigel Howes and Managing Director Louise Vaughan to spearhead growth, which will include service line development and future acquisitions.

Now in its 14th year Definition is recognised as one of the country’s most respected reputation management agencies, having won close to 70 awards both in the UK and internationally for integrated, multi-discipline campaigns across specialist sectors, including maritime, health & wellness and transport.

The agency is three times winner of the ‘Agency of the Year’ title in the UK Public Sector Communications Awards and has also won ‘Best Issues & Reputation Management Campaign’ at the European Communications Excellence Awards three times in Munich, Berlin and Stockholm. It is currently short listed for ‘Agency of the Year’ in the PR Moment Awards.  

Founded more than 25 years ago in Leeds, W&P has built an unrivalled leadership position in the UK’s internal communications market. With a range of blue chip UK and international clients, the company has won more than 200 awards for outstanding work in employee engagement, including being named ‘Agency Team of the Year’ from the IoIC (Institute of Internal Communications) in 2018.

Nigel Howes, Chairman of Definition Agency Group said: “We have an ambitious growth strategy for Definition which is centred on identifying and leveraging complementary service lines that add significant value to our clients and our business. We were not only attracted by the fantastic pedigree of W&P but the people within the business who share our passion for delivering services that are not only valued by our clients but highly rewarding for our people. We now look forward to making our combined aspirations a reality.”           

Andy Holt, Managing Director of Words&Pictures said: “Both agencies are clearly major players in our respective areas of expertise. But bringing W&P and Definition together now offers significant benefits, both for clients and for our wider team. This ‘one team’ approach will streamline communications for clients and add value. For our wider team the move offers career development opportunities and gives us strength in numbers during challenging times.”

He added the company was in the throes of developing an innovative ‘inside&out’ approach to communications, which would address the “risk-laden gaps” between internal and external communications, including a new virtual conferencing platform Eventiv that is already making an impact with clients, at home and overseas.

Louise Vaughan, Managing Director of Definition added: “If ever there was a need for companies to take a fresh look at how they engage with their internal and external audiences to grow belief, reputation, and profile, it’s now. In today’s rapidly changing world our clients will benefit from clear, consistent, joined up communications delivered inside and outside their organisation. Communication designed to give clarity in an unclear world, directly supporting leadership and business goals.”

Funding for the acquisition was provided by Thincats, with corporate finance support and debt advisory services provided by Ian Marwood, Andy Miller and Matt Tollefson at Sentio. Legal support on the deal was provided to Definition by Freeths and to Words&Pictures by Needles.

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