Our consultants and partners

About Justin

Justin Shaw

Chief Higher Education Consultant

Passionate about higher education, Justin has worked in the sector for over 30 years.

He came to Communications Management from the University of Hertfordshire’s Communications Department, setting up the company’s education practice before taking over and shaping its vision as the leading consultancy for education and skills clients.

He has worked across all areas of the sector – including schools, business, professional and higher education – and has led and delivered many cross-education campaigns.

He started his career in journalism and was awarded Reporter of The Year for his investigative features.

Our partners

Our consultants

Michael Lavery

Brand and marketing

Michael brings expertise in brand and reputation in both the education and private sectors. At Teesside University he had Executive Team responsibility for strategic marketing, branding, communications, student recruitment and fundraising. He was Director of Communications and Marketing at Durham University. In the private sector, Michael worked in several marketing, advertising and PR agencies and was Head of Communications for Reg Vardy plc, Europe’s leading motor retail group.

An adviser to the House of Lords and global trustee to the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Michael has led our projects with the University of Oxford, John Hopkins University (USA) and Dublin City University.

Jessica Shepherd

Communications and PR

Jessica’s expertise covers communications and PR strategy, digital communications, external affairs, media relations, crisis communications, media training, stakeholder engagement, and influencer communications.

A former education correspondent at The Guardian and reporter for the Times Higher Education, Jessica became Head of Communications at UCL where she led the communications strategy for its education mission, establishing a regular podcast on student experience and teaching innovations.

Jessica has worked in government communications and media relations at both the Home Office and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy on the complex issues around business performance, growth and countering extremism.

Anna Ford

Media and communications

Anna Ford is a communications and media consultant to universities, research organisations and science-based campaigns, with particular expertise in research, climate and environmental story telling. Anna has spent the best part of a decade in university communications teams. During this time, she led the media and social teams at the University of Sussex, and captained media relations at LSE’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and Environment.

At Sussex, Anna professionalised the press office, introducing processes which strengthened the university’s ability to respond to the pressing reputational challenges of the higher education environment. At the same time, Anna empowered her team to prioritise research communications, creating a framework to promote the research with the most newsworthiness and strategic value to the organisation. On social media, Anna expanded the social media team to include youth expertise, and successfully advocated for the university’s social experts to have a ‘seat at the table’.

At LSE, Anna’s work included promoting the university’s world-renowned climate academics, including thought leadership and social content campaigns around COP26 and an IPPC report respectively, leading to impactful outcomes.

Before her move to higher education, Anna spent eight years in government press offices, handling the media for a variety of challenging issues. She became the lead press officer to Keir Starmer when he led a public service, supporting him on high profile issues and preparing him for media interviews.

Mark Ferguson

PR and media

Mark believes good PR is all about ‘telling the truth persuasively’. His expertise ensures that clients have a clear message, seen and heard by those who matter.

He is a regular press, radio and TV contributor on subjects from on-campus mumps outbreaks to multimillion-pound facility launches. Mark’s work has appeared in The Times, Times Higher Education, University Business, the BBC, The Guardian, WonkHE and The Gadget Show.

A former university department head, Mark delivered communication campaigns across academic and sector-wide issues. As a consultant, he helps universities build their profiles by employing PR effectively. Mark has worked with universities in Birmingham, London, Gloucester, Coventry, Wales, Leicester, Manchester, Reading, Buckingham and the United States.

Adam Batstone

Broadcast and podcasts

Adam brings expertise in newspapers, TV and radio, providing training and coaching to help academics make the most of media opportunities. He is valued for his journalistic experience, network and clear strategic advice. A member of the launch teams for the BBC’s News Channel and website, and Radio 5 Live, he has been at the forefront of the digital transformation of the UK media.

Adam established the Strategic Media Unit at MHP Communications, helping clients across different sectors engage more effectively with journalists. He set up MHP’s podcast production service, principally for the B2B market. And he chairs the judging panel for MPH’s annual 30 To Watch: Young Journalist Awards.

Paul Barnes

Planning consultation

A public affairs consultant for over 30 years, Paul provides high-level strategic advice and tactical support to help universities work effectively with government. He focuses on community consultation and delivering comprehensive political campaigns on specific issues to achieve changes in government policy.

Paul led a highly successful campaign to secure planning permission for the University of Cambridge’s major North West Cambridge Development, allowing the university to expand space for students and research outside of the crowded city centre. He is also a Director of EVOLVE, a property-led partnership that helps town centres plan and deliver change to ensure their long-term viability.

Rachel Gatley

Sustainability Communications

Rachel is a senior communications professional with 20 years’ experience gained in PR consultancy and in-house teams, supporting education, corporate and charity sector organisation both in the UK and overseas.

In the UK, this has seen Rachel heading up communications teams for charities including Education Support Partnership, The Prince’s Trust and HRH’s CSR body International Business Leaders Forum.

During her time overseas Rachel worked for clients including the ESSEC Business School where she promoted their Singapore based Asian Campus, MasterCard for whom she led multi market communications and PR agency Weber Shandwick where she established the agency’s Corporate Social Responsibility practice for Asia Pacific.

This multi-market, multi sector experience, grounded in a real commitment to ‘ethical communications’ has since evolved into Rachel’s focus. Helping clients illustrate and communicate their positive impact on society and the environment being something Rachel is now dedicated to doing for businesses, charities, and educational institutions alike. And as a Philosophy graduate and ex Student Union President, this is work that she thrives on.

Hannah Gardiner

Crisis communications

Hannah provides crisis communications consultancy and guidance, drawing on her extensive experience at the highest levels of government and across the public and private sectors.

At the Metropolitan Police Force, Hannah provided crisis support for the London bombings of July 7, 2005, and the Madeleine McCann investigation. More recently she has worked with universities and colleges to produce communications plans for their risk management procedures and advised on a range of reputation-threatening incidents.

Hannah is valued for her ability to consider the bigger picture and challenge accepted wisdom. She gently encourages organisations to rethink their positioning and messaging, assess who they need to influence, and plan a path to achieve maximum impact.

Paul Smith

Perceptions research

An award-winning, stakeholder engagement and communications professional, Paul brings strong, corporate communications skills and cross-sector experience to education clients. He excels in taking a dynamic, fresh approach, finding new solutions to age-old problems.

With a track record in winning public and political support for high-profile and challenging development projects, Paul offers broad expertise across media relations, crisis management, social media, event management, PR and corporate publications management. His university clients include Oxford, Lancaster, Coventry, Chester, Warwick, Manchester Metropolitan, Bolton, Birmingham City, Salford, Liverpool John Moores, Sussex, Wolverhampton and Edge Hill.

Lisa Pantelli

Internal communications and intranet development

Lisa Pantelli focuses on providing clients with research and data-driven insights to help them to inform their engagement and internal communications strategy. Drawing on a wide-ranging experience as Head of Weber Shandwick’s UK Employee Engagement & Change Management practice, Lisa now works with clients across the globe to develop and implement strategic programmes designed to engage employees, promote advocacy within organisations and help navigate leaders through times of change. She has provided counsel to clients across a number of sectors including healthcare, energy, financial services, education and not-for-profit.

She is part of the Engage4Success Guru Group and has provided consultative advice to the Government’s Review of NHS Staff Engagement. Clients have included the University of Central Lancashire, the LEGO Foundation, Roffey Park and Pearson.

She works on the basis that too often the focus is on the tactical implementation of what leaders think that their employees want or are feeling, rather than actually looking at their drivers and  what matters to them on a daily basis. Her aim is to be able to provide consultancy to bridge the gap between communications and organisational performance

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