New MD for long-established Bristol PR firm as its founder steps into new executive chairman role

February 7, 2024

Bristol-based Empica, one of the South West’s longest established public relations agencies, has appointed a new managing director.

Natalie Birrell, pictured, who has been working with the agency as client services director since 2019 takes up the role from its founder Martin Powell, who moves to the newly-created role of executive chairman.

Empica, which has its headquarters in Wraxall, was launched by the former Bristol Evening Post journalist 35 years ago.

It has since grown into a major provider of PR, communications and content creation services to a wide range of clients in Bristol and across the South West as well as nationally and internationally.

Its current portfolio includes law firms Osborne Clarke and Clarke Willmott and wealth management and professional services group Evelyn Partners – all with major offices in Bristol.

South Africa-born Natalie brings more than 25 years’ experience in PR and marketing communications to her new role.

She began her working life as a journalist in Slough before making the transition to PR, going on to work for Bristol agencies such as Grayling, Sturgess van Damme and Corixa.

She then set up her own agency before working in-house as head of communications for Bath-headquartered law firm Royds Withy King (now RWK Goodman) and later developing a freelance career.

She has worked with Martin and other members of Empica’s 10-strong staff in a number of ways for more than 20 years.

Natalie said: “I feel very fortunate to be working with such an experienced team of former journalists, PR specialists and content creators on Empica’s next phase of growth.

“There are not many major developments, community projects and businesses in Bristol and the South West that Empica hasn’t been involved in over the past 35 years.

“My task is to build on this rich heritage and continue to develop Empica’s PR, communications and content creation services in a way that best supports our clients’ evolving aims and ambitions.

“Martin has built a business to be proud of with long-standing clients and a close-knit, loyal team.

“This is an exciting time for all of us and I am looking forward to getting stuck in and expanding my role.”

Martin, pictured, will continue to head Empica’s work with Louise Brown, the world’s first ‘test tube baby’, who has been in the media spotlight since her birth 45 years ago. He will also lead the agency’s media training and crisis management offerings.

He said: “Some of our clients have been with us for decades. Natalie has great energy and enthusiasm to take Empica forward to an exciting future and bring our services to even more businesses across the region.”

While Empica supports businesses and not-for-profit organisations in all sectors, it has a particularly strong track record in real estate and property development, professional services, tourism and hospitality, health, social care and education.

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