A trio of communications professionals with decades of international and local experience is launching a new public relations (PR) firm in Vancouver.
Rhea Dubois-Phillips, Mike Shackle and Joanna O'Neill last week announced the launch of WinterCove Communications. Dubois-Phillips has previously been recognized as among the province’s most influential PR professionals in BIV’s BC500 list.
“We realized that in this economic environment, companies are looking for efficiency and they want direct access to experienced consultants, but are not necessarily interested in paying high agency fees and being locked into a long-term agency agreement that can be quite costly,” said Dubois-Phillips.
“So we put together a very small team of experienced communication veterans and we could offer that efficiency to companies.”
The new firm will offer services in corporate communications, among others.
“Employee engagement is a really big passion that I have because I think employees are a company’s best asset and strongest asset. If companies don’t recognize that, they get into a lot of trouble,” Dubois-Phillips said.
She pointed to the recent example of hundreds of employees at Open AI, the creator of ChatGPT, threatening to quit after co-founder Sam Altman was briefly fired as CEO this month as an unsuccessful employee engagement strategy.
“It’s a great illustration of the importance of being in touch with your employees, giving them a voice, giving them a seat table for communication, and that’s what we really want to help companies to understand, and then bring that actually into play,” said Dubois-Phillips.
“Top-down communications is very outdated. One-way communication from senior executives down is not a successful model anymore.”
She added that the WinterCove team’s decades of global experience in Asia, the Middle East, the U.S. and the local market will help set them apart with a better understanding of cultural nuances.
The name WinterCove comes from a cove near the Gulf Islands that has served as a safe place for boats during storms, according to Dubois-Phillips.
“It's a very symbolic name, where companies who may be having some challenges are looking for a place to go where … they can find, in our case, communications assistance and solutions for some of their problems,” she said.
Editor's note: Updated Nov. 28, 2023, to clarify comments made in an interview regarding the types of services WinterCove offers.