Aeons ago when I was director of media relations at Dixons Retail I used to take the view that the set-piece announcements in the financial reporting calendar were a brilliant opportunity to create a series of eye-catching insights into the industry that Dixons was part of.  For several interims and prelims on the trot, I’d schedule an announcement of the phasing out of a piece of successful (but past its best) consumer technology, heralding the way for something superior that was just arriving on the shelves.  The obituary for the VCR, for instance, was really about the arrival of the DVD player.  The effect was fourfold: to sell out of VCRs (get them while they last), to sell loads of DVD players, position the business as a bellwether of trends in consumer electronics and to drag financial reporting forward into the front of the paper, gaining a larger audience.

For a long time I’ve felt that capital markets communications have been very dry indeed.  Yes, they are rule-bound.  Yes, they are important pivot points for the City, analysts and shareholders.  But they really don’t have to be dull.  In fact, they create opportunities to be exciting (if careful on the detail).  Facts are essential.  Giving the facts an interesting frame – or rather setting up the ingredients for that frame – seems to be a reasonable thing.  It’s all about the quality of expression.

At Houston, we’ve done a lot of important corporate positioning work for national and international brands, but we’ve never applied this prowess to capital markets communications.

Last year I met Kate Hoare, who joins us as a director this week from Hudson Sandler, where she has built an impressive set of credentials advising listed businesses, notably in the leisure, retail, consumer, industrials and support services markets.  She is also an acknowledged investor relations expert and a very skilled crisis communications operator.  Between us, Kate and I have worked on more than 150 M&A transactions and IPOs, many for FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 businesses. Kate also has that populist twinkle in her eye, tempered, of course, by regulatory and disclosure requirements.

I’m thrilled to announce Kate’s appointment – and we look forward to working with like-minded in-house professionals, CFOs and CEOs to make their story greater than the sum of its parts.  After all, as any analyst will tell you, perception minus reality equals enterprise value.

Kate can be reached in the office on +44 (0) 203 7017660 or by email at