For immediate release

Communications consultancy Foco has been appointed by Projects with Purpose (PwP) to map the online behaviours of young people on behalf of West Berkshire Council and Reading Borough Council as part of their ‘Elevate’ project.

PwP works with public and third sector organisations to improve outcomes for disadvantaged communities.

The social enterprise has brought in Foco to conduct the UK’s first online mapping of youth unemployment issues in a local authority area.

Foco’s research will help PwP understand how young people use social media in order to improve engagement and boost employment prospects across West Berkshire and Reading.

John Shewell, co-founder of Foco, said: “We’re really proud to be involved with such an important project. Youth unemployment is a big issue facing the country, so we’re really excited to use our approach for gathering deep insights about audiences to help Berkshire achieve its objectives.”

Maxine Moss-Black, co-founder and director of PwP, said: “This is an exciting and innovative project that has the potential to be a game-changer in boosting youth employment across the UK, which is why we brought in Foco to work on the project.

“The team at Foco have significant experience in delivering successful behaviour change campaigns and we were impressed with their robust approach to understanding and mapping online patterns of behaviours.

“We know that young people spend a lot of time online so we felt it was important to understand what they were doing on social media, which hasn’t been properly understood within the context of youth employment and we felt that Foco brings a depth of expertise that will really add value to the whole project.”



The ‘Elevate’ project is part of the City Deal initiative across Berkshire and includes Reading, Wokingham, Bracknell Forest, Slough, Windsor and Maindenhead. The aim of the programme is to:

  • reduce youth unemployment by 50% within three years;
  • generate 1,300 new employment opportunities for young people including helping 800 sustain work for at least six months;
  • develop new approaches to reduce churn in the labour market ensuring 900 young people do not make a repeat claim within 9 months of their last, and increasing the earnings of 450 young people by 10%;
  • deliver improvement in existing schemes including 1,500 new work experience placements;
  • create 300 additional apprenticeships and 800 new Youth Contract Wage Incentives.

For more information, please contact John Shewell on 07748801567 or at




For immediate release

Communications consultancy Foco has been appointed to handle public relations for fintech start-up Bean.

Bean is an online personal finance assistant that helps customers cut down on recurring costs by finding, tracking and managing the regular bills and subscriptions in people’s bank account.

Foco, which launched in August, is briefed to help the company become a household name by raising awareness across traditional and new media.

Michael Taggart, co-founder of Foco, said: “The simple fact is Bean’s platform could help thousands – maybe millions – of people save significant sums by managing their payments better.

“Anyone can use this technology – but it’s particularly useful to vulnerable people who struggle to manage their outgoings. We’re eager to help Bean succeed.”

Peter Myatt, co-founder of Bean, said: “Foco might be a new consultancy but Michael and his colleagues have years of experience in consumer-facing financial technology services.

“I’ve known the team for a long time and their expertise in communications matches our vision to make managing your personal finances as easy as ordering an Uber.”



For more information about Bean or Foco, please contact Michael Taggart on 07780 008939 or at

A message to corporate Britain: “Your marketing is boring and wrong”

Nice Foc Pic.jpg



Three consultants have quit their jobs to form a behaviour change business – with the message “everything you think you know about communications is wrong”.

Foco aims to revolutionise the way organisations all over the world engage with their audiences – including customers, clients and their own staff – by teaching them to be storytellers.

The co-founders, Michael Taggart, John Shewell and Nick Sturman claim 95% of corporate communications leave people cold and fail to inspire action – because they don’t arouse emotions, like love, excitement, fear and happiness.

Taggart, Foco’s director of storytelling, said: “The corporate language of facts and figures isn’t inspiring anyone. If you want to plant an idea in someone’s head – an idea that will inspire action – you have to wrap it up in a story.

“This is not a new idea, we were huddled around campfires regaling our rapt kinfolk with scary and amusing tales at least 100,000 years ago. But storytelling has somehow been smothered in the dead hand of turgid press releases, dull websites, jargon-loaded social media updates and self-obsessed blog posts.”

Foco will work with public, private and third sector organisations in health, the environment, finance, education and civil society to produce all sorts of outcomes – from increasing recycling and improving financial literacy to tackling crime and encouraging healthy lifestyles.

It will only work with organisations on projects that create social good and will rule out clients who are not obsessed with understanding the people they aim to reach.

Shewell, Foco’s director of business strategy, said: “We’ll tell our clients they must grasp the core beliefs, hopes and fears of their audiences because that’s the way they will tell stories that matter. 

“Our foundational idea is so resonant, we’re confident we’ll be working with some of the biggest names in business, the charity sector and the public realm within a year.”

Sturman, Foco’s director of change, added: “Henry Ford said you can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do and that might be true. But if you want to know what we’re going to do – we plan to change the way every organisation in Britain communicates.

“That will sometimes involve an entire rethink on the way they’re structured and the systems they use. That’s why Foco is set up to provide services that are half way between communications strategy and management consultancy.”

For more information, visit



For media enquiries, please contact Michael Taggart on 07780 008939 or

Pics of Michael Taggart, John Shewell and Nick Sturman are available

Biographies of Foco’s co-founders:

Nick Sturman, director of change

Nick is a passionate manager of change, specialising in financial services. He brings to Foco huge experience in risk management, regulatory change, strategic change, transformation and driving target operating models through to completion. Nick has worked with a number of FTSE 250 organisations and several consultancies, including Accenture, Capco and Xchanging. He believes in changing the value of employees in organisations, ensuring organisations achieve their change mandate, and aiding companies to reduce their spend, understand their costs, ROI and capital - and achieve better results.

When he's not at his desk, Nick needs to be moving on one kind of vehicle or another. He enjoys cycling, kitesurfing, stand up paddling, wakeboarding and snowboarding.  Nick has two young daughters and tries to involve them into as many of those sports as possible.

John Shewell, director of business strategy

John has 17 years’ experience in strategic communications and behaviour change. He has worked in the private and public sector in the UK, Europe and Australia with clients such as the European Commission, the European Council and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), as well as a number of local government and public health organisations in the UK. He has led on a number of award-winning programmes to influence behaviours ranging from tackling obesity and reducing self-harming, right through to improving recycling rates. John is also credited with pioneering the use of social media in local government and commissioned the first-ever online mapping of a local community for a council in the UK.  

Like any self-respecting Australian, there's nothing John likes better at the end of a long  day than cracking open a coldie on his beloved Brighton Beach and watching the sun set.

Michael Taggart, director of storytelling

Michael has journalism and digital content running through him like the word 'Brighton' in a stick of rock.  Having enjoyed a successful career as a national newspaper correspondent, he worked in senior PR roles in two councils before heading up the media and digital communications unit at a third - Brighton & Hove City Council. In 2010, he joined PR consultancy MRM as head of digital and worked with an array of financial services clients, including Nationwide, John Lewis and Scottish Friendly.

Outside of the day job, Michael has co-hosted and produced the Beer & Bytes marketing podcast. He is also co-founder of the Mouthy Money digital magazine, which helps young adults tackle the financial challenges ahead. Michael is married and lives in Brighton with his beloved cat, Tilksy, who has just had her 10th birthday.