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Expertise

Public Affairs
Financial Communication
Crises Communication
Litigation PR
Reputation Management
ESG Communication

Protecting your reputation is our mission

Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors is the leading strategic communications consultancy in Switzerland.

With offices in Zurich, Bern and Geneva, the consultancy has a presence in Switzerland's most important economic and political centres. We have extensive experience in providing strategic advice to companies, organisations and individuals in the fields of public affairs, financial and capital markets communications, litigation PR, crisis communications, reputation management and ESG communications.

Our clients are advised and supported exclusively by our partners who, as the owners of Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors, are directly responsible for the success of the company.We have been the no. 1 M&A communications consulting firm in Switzerland for many years. We are also one of the most important PR advisors in this field globally, according to Mergermarket's annual rankings. Our partners all have access to wide and long-established national and international networks of contacts.

We are guided by our client's best interests in everything we do.

Partner

Alice Chalupny

Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors
Kirchenweg 8
CH-8008 Zurich

Phone: +41 43 344 42 56
Mobile: +41 78 686 89 30
alice.chalupny@konsulenten.ch

LinkedIn

Alice Chalupny
Partner

Core competencies. Alice Chalupny’s core competencies include:

  • Consulting, coaching and positioning of leading personalities from the board of directors and top management
  • Strategies for crisis prevention; successful management of events with crisis potential; crisis communication in complex situations; compliance communication
  • Reputation and Issue Management
  • Supporting strategic projects with innovative communication strategies (organisation development, personnel changes in corporate governance, opening up new markets, mergers & acquisitions, Initial Public Offerings)
  • Development and implementation of newsroom models in corporate communications

Experience. Alice Chalupny studied International Relations at the University of Zurich. For 15 years, she worked as a media professional with a focus on industry and finance, most recently as Head of the Business Editorial Department of the “Sonntagszeitung”. Alice Chalupny then moved as Head of Communications to fenaco, an agricultural, energy, food and retail company operating at home and abroad. From 2019 to 2023, she managed corporate communications at the insurance company Mobiliar.

Alice Chalupny is engaged as a lecturer in communication at colleges and higher education institutions. She has in-depth industry knowledge of the financial and manufacturing industries (construction, investment and consumer goods) as well as the retail industry.

Reto Gerber

Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors
Kirchenweg 8
CH-8008 Zurich

Phone: +41 43 344 42 54
Mobile: +41 78 625 48 32
reto.gerber@konsulenten.ch

LinkedIn

Reto Gerber
Partner

Core competencies. Reto Gerber’s core competencies include

  • Positioning of executives, management, and supervisory boards
  • Development of cyber strategies and cyber crises communication 
  • Litigation PR
  • Strategies for ESG communication
  • Reputation and crisis management
  • Communications support for change processes

Experience. Reto Gerber, dipl. sc. nat. ETH, can look back on a long and successful career within the media, largely in management positions. Amongst others, he was a founding member of the business magazine ECO and led the programme for many years. He also built up the business department, and later the foreign affairs department of the German-language Swiss television. Previously, he held positions at the Sonntagszeitung among other publications.

Reto Gerber holds a degree in environmental sciences and a postgraduate degree in business sciences, both from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH).

Rob Hartmans

Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors
Kirchenweg 8
CH-8008 Zurich

Phone: +41 43 344 42 42
Mobile: +41 79 254 03 66
rob.hartmans@konsulenten.ch

LinkedIn

Rob Hartmans
Partner

Core competencies. Rob Hartmans’ core competencies include

  • Developing and implementing strategies and concepts for purposeful and effective corporate communications and media relations
  • Advising and supporting clients on communications and policy
  • Sparring partner for communication managers and their teams in crises and change processes (turnarounds, restructurings, acquisitions)
  • Trade association work and lobbying

Experience. Before joining Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors, Rob Hartmans was an independent consultant for strategy, communication and policy, with offices in Zurich, Bern and Zug.

From 2006 to 2014 he was Head of Corporate Communications at Helsana and played a central role in the company’s work with trade associations. Before that, Rob Hartmans worked for Swiss Life (2001-2006, responsible for PR and media work in the Swiss market), as well as in various communications functions at Zurich Insurance (1996 to 2001, ultimately responsible for worldwide internal communications). Prior to his switch to corporate communications, he was a journalist and editor at various newspapers for ten years.

Rob Hartmans studied history and political science at the University of Zurich and has an Executive Master’s in general management from the University of St. Gallen.

Dr Matthias D. Knill

Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors
Kirchenweg 8
CH-8008 Zurich

Phone: +41 43 344 42 42
Mobile: +41 79 218 16 30
matthias.knill@konsulenten.ch

LinkedIn

Dr Matthias D. Knill
Partner

Core competencies. Matthias Knill's core competencies include

  • Communications support in change processes
  • Developing and implementing messages in difficult situations
  • Supporting the effective communication of scientific issues to different target groups

Experience. Matthias Knill, who holds a Ph.D. in natural sciences from the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, was head of corporate communications for the SIG Group from 1999 to 2005.

Before this (from 1995) he was a scientist and deputy manager of the communications department at Nagra (Switzerland's National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste).

Prior to this, Matthias Knill worked as assistant lecturer at various institutes of the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich.

Andrés Luther

Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors
Kirchenweg 8
CH-8008 Zurich

Phone: +41 43 344 42 42
andres.luther@konsulenten.ch

LinkedIn

Andrés Luther
Partner

Core competencies. The main focus of Andrés Luther's work includes

  • Management of strategic communications projects and board-level consultancy
  • Issues management and communications support for legal cases
  • Capital market communications and investor relations
  • Development and implementation of communications strategies in the fields of corporate governance, corporate responsibility and sustainability
  • Development and implementation of online and social media strategies

Experience. Andrés Luther MA worked in various communications roles at Credit Suisse for more than 10 years up to 2014. From 2005 he was Head of Group Communications and from 2011 Co-Head of Corporate Communications with responsibility for group-level communications, worldwide private banking and the Swiss and Asia-Pacific regions. Before that, Andrés Luther was Head of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications at Day Software, an internet software company that is now part of Adobe Software.

Andrés Luther has a Masters degree in English and Spanish literature and language from the University of Basel.

MA Dominique Reber

Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors
Kramgasse 16
CH-3011 Berne

Phone: +41 31 312 64 33
Mobile: +41 76 405 65 85
dominique.reber@konsulenten.ch

LinkedIn

MA Dominique Reber
Partner

Core competencies. The main focus of Dominique Reber's work includes

  • Development of communication strategies for companies in transition
  • Effective strategies for sustainability communication
  • Personal coaching and training of leaders in communication
  • Access at national and international level to politicians and authorities in more than 50 countries
  • Development of positioning concepts for companies and organizations with a strong connection to the political and social environment
  • Crisis communication / communication on competition and antitrust law issues

Experience. Dominique Reber was a member of the Executive Board of economiesuisse, the umbrella association for Swiss business until 2012. He led political work relating to major infrastructure projects, energy supply and environmental issues. Among other things he attended the 2010 Copenhagen climate change negotiations as a member of the Swiss government’s delegation.

Before this, Dominique Reber worked in various positions in lobbying, corporate communications and journalism, with an emphasis on IT and communications technology. This included spells as Head of Communications at Sunrise Communications AG and Head of Public Affairs at Swisscom AG and at eBay International in Europe.

From 2019-2022, Dominique Reber was President of the FIPRA Network, the largest global organisation of public affairs consultancies.

Dominique Reber has a Masters in History and romanistic literature and linguistics Studies from Basel University, as well as an Executive Masters in International and European Business Law from St. Gallen University.

Dominique Reber is the current president of Club Politique de Berne. 

lic. rer. pol. Hugo Schittenhelm

Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors
Kramgasse 16
CH-3011 Berne

Phone: +41 31 312 64 33
Mobile: +41 79 239 32 50
hugo.schittenhelm@konsulenten.ch

LinkedIn

lic. rer. pol. Hugo Schittenhelm
Partner

Core competencies. The core competencies of Hugo Schittenhelm include

  • Development of communication strategies for companies and institutions based on well-founded analyses of the political and economic circumstances
  • Introduction of sustainable relationships with governments, public authorities, the media, business and culture
  • Strategies for the systematic monitoring of political-regulatory processes
  • Crisis prevention and communication

Experience. Prior to joining Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors as a partner, Hugo Schittenhelm, lic.rer. pol., (focus on economics), was a freelance communications consultant in Bern.

From 1999 until the end of 2005, he was the head of communication for Federal Councillor Moritz Leuenberger and managed the press and information service of the Federal Department for Environment, Traffic, Energy and Communication.

Earlier, he had supported Federal Councillors Kaspar Villiger and Otto Stich as their spokesman at the Federal Ministry of Finance. In the earliest days of his career, he worked as a political journalist for «Associated Press» and the daily newspaper «Der Bund».

lic. oec. publ. Rolf D. Schläpfer

Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors
Kirchenweg 8
CH-8008 Zurich

Phone: +41 43 344 42 42
rolf.schlaepfer@konsulenten.ch

LinkedIn

lic. oec. publ. Rolf D. Schläpfer
Partner

Core competencies. Rolf Schläpfer's core competencies include

  • Support for strategic projects (leadership changes, restructurings, M&A, going public)
  • Reputation management and crisis management
  • Developing corporate identity and brand strategies
  • Specialist communication in the healthcare and life sciences sectors

ExperienceRolf Schläpfer, lic. oec. publ., headed Roche’s global corporate communications for over ten years. He was the first communications specialist to join the extended Executive Committee of the leading pharmaceutical group.

After graduating in business administration, he worked in product management at Colgate, where he was responsible for several international brands. From 1987 to 1997 he was Senior Partner at the Wirz Group. He co-founded Wirz Identity AG, which as CEO he built up into a leading company for corporate identity and brand positioning.

Rolf Schläpfer has many years of experience as a guest lecturer at various universities and as a moderator of high-ranking panels.

Dr Victor Schmid

Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors
Kramgasse 16
CH-3011 Berne

Phone: +41 31 312 64 33
Mobile: +41 79 350 05 37
victor.schmid@konsulenten.ch

LinkedIn

Dr Victor Schmid
Partner

Core competencies. Victor Schmid's core competencies include

  • Brokering contacts with governments, public authorities, the media, and business and cultural circles
  • Positioning and profiling companies and leading business figures
  • Developing and implementing communications strategies for M&As, IPOs and going-private projects
  • Personal communications and presentational training for managers and opinion-formers

Experience. Victor Schmid holds a PhD in sociology and political sciences. He was a freelance communications consultant until 1996.

Until 1994 he was first vice president/head of corporate communications of Ascom Holding AG.

Until 1991, he was an advisor to Swiss Federal Councillor Flavio Cotti and press spokesman for the Federal Department of Home Affairs; before this he worked in various positions as a communications manager and journalist. Victor Schmid is president and co-founder of the Club Politique de Berne, a unique members-only club dedicated to political issues in Berne.

Michael Schoenenberger

Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors
Kirchenweg 8
CH-8008 Zurich

Phone: +41 43 344 42 42
Mobile: +41 76 433 81 02
michael.schoenenberger@konsulenten.ch

LinkedIn

Michael Schoenenberger
Partner

Core competencies. Michael Schoenenberger’s core competencies include

  • Developing communication strategies for businesses and organizations
  • Formulating narratives to tackle long-term challenges
  • Positioning, personal coaching and training for managers
  • Supporting and advising businesses and individuals in critical situations
  • Monitoring and analysing national and international political risks, and working out strategies and measures to minimize risks and ensure business success
  • Protecting interests in political and regulatory processes

Experience. Michael Schoenenberger joined HNS.Counselors as a partner in November 2020. Prior to this, he headed up the Swiss politics and business section of the leading Swiss newspaper, the "Neue Zürcher Zeitung".

Michael Schoenenberger is an expert in complex communication tasks at the interface of industry, politics, government and society. Through his former positions as journalist, head of section and senior consultant at Farner he has a broad network at the highest level. He focusses on positioning companies and executives, particularly in crisis situations and phases of strategic realignment. He supports top management in communicating success-critical topics to policy-makers, opinion-leaders and the media.

Michael Schoenenberger holds a Master's degree in history, political science and linguistics from Zurich University.

lic. oec. publ. Jürg Wildberger

Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors
Kirchenweg 8
CH-8008 Zurich

Phone: +41 43 344 42 42
Mobile: +41 79 351 10 24
juerg.wildberger@konsulenten.ch

LinkedIn

lic. oec. publ. Jürg Wildberger
Senior Counselor

Core competencies. Jürg Wildberger’s main focuses include

  • Litigation PR
  • Crisis communication
  • Personal coaching and support for CEOs and executives in difficult media situations
  • Storytelling focused on the strengths and weaknesses of the selected digital and linear media 
  • Media and crisis training
  • Formulating communication strategies for companies, CEOs and executives 
  • Communications Audit: analyzing strengths and weaknesses of current communications; formulating measures

Experience. Jürg Wildberger has wide experience of journalism and business. After studying economics at the University of Zurich he worked as a business journalist at «Finanz und Wirtschaft» and then took on a senior role at the «Berner Zeitung».  

In 1995 he became the first editor-in-chief of news magazine «FACTS» and was later appointed editor-in-chief of «Weltwoche». He was deputy editor-in-chief of the «European Business Channel» and in 1990 founded the «10 vor 10» news magazine on Swiss television. In 1998 he set up TV3, the first fully programmed private Swiss television station, which he led until 2002. 

He has been a partner at Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors since 2007.

Dr Andrea Willimann

Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors
Kramgasse 16
CH-3011 Berne

Telefon: +41 31 312 64 33
Mobile: +41 76 329 19 23
andrea.willimann@konsulenten.ch

LinkedIn

Dr Andrea Willimann
Partner

Core competencies. Dr. Andrea Willimann’s main areas of expertise include

  • Development of strategic solutions in the field of communications and media
  • Formulation of independent second opinions in connection with the positioning of companies and individuals faced with political or regulatory challenges
  • Assisting in the preparation of strategic decisions through the monitoring and analysis of the political arena and administration, as well as business and academic circles
  • Advising on cyber strategies and offering personal coaching and training in the area of digital communications

Experience. Dr. Andrea Willimann holds a degree in History and Economics. She has over a decade of management experience from her roles as an editor-in-chief and company director. Andrea Willimann owes her wide-ranging communications expertise and her comprehensive network of contacts in the Swiss capital of Berne as well as in Central Switzerland to her experience in all relevant areas of journalism – including digital communications and communications consulting – and her work as an author and lecturer.

We have many years of experience and an extensive network of contacts.

Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors brings together international experience, tried and tested expertise in communications and crisis management, and an extensive network of personal contacts in business, political, cultural and public sector circles. It is the leading consultancy in Switzerland for M&A transactions and IPOs.

We regard ourselves as advocates for our clients.

The partners at Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors regard themselves as their clients' advocates in all communications matters. They help clients develop the right strategies and content, and use their expertise and extensive contacts to ensure this content reaches the defined target groups.

We are committed to personal consultancy.

Advice and support are provided on a very individual basis. Each client is looked after personally by one of the partners. All the partners have years of senior management experience at international corporations as well as extensive practical knowledge of the communications market.

We have national and international networks.

With offices in Zurich, Bern and Geneva, the consultancy has a presence in Switzerland's most important economic and political centers. Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors is the only Swiss member of H/Advisors, the world's leading international consultancy network for financial communications.

Expertise

Corporate Communications

Reputation Management

Board & Executive Communication

M&A and IPO Communication

Issues and Crisis Management

Litigation PR

Public Affairs

Cyber crisis communications

Investor Relations

Corporate Branding

ESG Communications

Our values and principles

Our values and principles

We are guided by the best interests of our clients in everything we do.

Professionalism, independence, integrity, and discretion are our fundamental values.

Professionalism. We support the interests of our clients with the utmost commitment and a strong sense of responsibility, all the while maintaining the necessary critical distance.

Independence. Our advice and recommendations are always impartial.

Integrity. We will refuse or terminate any mandate that is not or is no longer consistent with our principles.

Discretion. Our contacts with our counterparts are based on trust and full transparency. We guarantee personal and individual advocacy based on discretion and confidentiality to all our clients.

 

Our history

Advocates for communications: a vision turns into reality.

More than 25 years ago, the founding partners of Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors launched a new type of communications consultancy in Switzerland  providing strategic support for companies and leaders in all matters relating to reputation management. 

On 1 January 1997, as "Hirzel, Rasi, Schmid Kommunikationskonsulenten", the founding partners Aloys Hirzel, Roland Rasi and Victor Schmid began to implement their vision of acting as advocates for their clients’ communication.

v.l.: Dr. Victor Schmid, Aloys Hirzel, Dr. Roland Rasi (1997)

One year later, on January 1st, 1998, Jörg Neef joined as another founding partner in the firm, which became "Hirzel.Neef.Rasi.Schmid.Konsulenten".

After the departure of Roland Rasi, the company was converted into a limited company under the name "Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Konsulenten AG".

v.l.: Dr. Victor Schmid, Dr. Jörg Neef, Aloys Hirzel (2022)

From the very outset, the joint vision of the ‘Konsulenten’ was to build up a strategic communications and business consultancy where the counselors would meet at an equal level with the business and political leaders to whom they provided advice.

The notion of "advocates for communications " was summed up by Aloys Hirzel in a  concise yet memorable document. The company’s two main principles – a foregoing of operational PR activities and a focus on the recruitment of highly experienced partnerswho are also shareholders of the company -  were subsequently implemented without compromise. This paper, which addresses both the ambitions of Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors and the high demands we make upon our partners, remains just as  valid today.

Many clients have been advised by HNS over years and even decades. 

Former partners

A look back. Partners who made us and who were part of the company.

"We found a niche in giving communication more weight in terms of content than any buzzword or slogan can. Our offer was very well received and we ourselves have been surprised by the success of our business model. We seem to have struck a chord with the Zeitgeist and to have covered a need that was present but lay latent."

 ...says Dr Jörg Neef, founding partner, a graduate of the University of Zurich and the former Managing Director for Global Corporate and Marketing Communications at investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston.

Former partners 

  • Aloys Hirzel (1997—2024), founding partner
  • Marie-Hélène Hancock (2010 —2023)
  • Dr. Jörg Neef (1998—2022), founding partner
  • Dr. Erich Vad (2018—2019)
  • Dr. Christine Menz (2002—2018)
  • Dr. Thomas Schneckenburger (2014—2018)
  • Andreas Thommen (2002—2017)
  • Dr. Urs Läubli (2001—2014 †)
  • Dr. Franz Egle (1998—2006)
  • Marco Casanova (2002—2003)
  • Dr. Roland Rasi (1997—2000), founding partner

 

Global network

Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors is the only Swiss member of the main international consultancy networks for financial communications and public affairs:

 

amo

Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors is the exclusive Swiss member of the international communications advisory network H/Advisors. H/Advisors is a global network of strategic communications advisors dedicated to building, enhancing and protecting our clients’ reputations while helping them achieve their business objectives. We are present in 35 cities in more than 20 countries, with over 1,400 consultants. H/Advisors is backed by Havas, one of the world’s largest global communication groups, founded in 1835 in Paris.

 

H/Advisors Blockchain 

Havas Group and Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors have joined forces to create Blockchain Switzerland-H/Advisors, a new offer dedicated to advising start-ups, corporations and institutions within the highly dynamic Swiss blockchain ecosystem. 

News

News 

Dr Thilo Goodall-Rathert joins Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors as a partner

Zurich, 28 February 2024 – Dr Thilo Goodall-Rathert will join Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors (HNS), Switzerland’s leading communications and business consultancy, on 1 April 2024. Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors is thus strengthening the business advisory expertise
within the partnership. (Media release)

Alice Chalupny joins Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Konsulenten as a partner

Zurich, 23 May 2023 - Alice Chalupny, Chief Communications Officer at La Mobilière, will become a partner at Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors, Switzerland's leading strategic communications and business consulting firm. (Media release)

Press Release H/Advisors: Rebranding

September 20, 2022: The /amo network rebrands as H/Advisors, reflecting its new organization, global ambition and strong backing by the Havas Group. Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors is the only Swiss member of H/Advisors.

H/Advisors has today been unveiled as the new name and brand identity of the leading international strategic communications network founded over 20 years ago by Havas, one of the world’s largest communications groups.

Press Release 

Distributed systems and the disappearance of the intermediary

Andrés Luther and Fabien Aufrechter of Blockchain Switzerland/AMO discuss, why we should expect businesses using blockchain technologies to adopt a different approach to corporate communications.

(Article)

Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors and Havas launch Blockchain Switzerland/AMO

Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors and Havas Group have joined forces to create Blockchain Switzerland/AMO, a new offer dedicated to advising startups, corporations and institutions within the highly dynamic Swiss blockchain ecosystem.

(Media release)

Contact

Hotline

Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors is always personally available to you – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Phone +41 43 344 42 42

E-Mail contact@konsulenten.ch

 

 

Zurich

Kirchenweg 8
CH-8008 Zurich

Phone: +41 43 344 42 42
contact@konsulenten.ch

Location

 

 

Bern

Kramgasse 16
CH-3011 Berne

Phone: +41 31 312 64 33
contact@konsulenten.ch

Location

 

 

Geneva

Havas Village Genève
Rue Pécolat 1
CH-1201 Geneva 

Phone: +41 22 340 28 45
contact@konsulenten.ch

Location

 

Publications

Distributed systems and the disappearance of the intermediary

(PDF - 223 KB)

Why we should expect businesses using blockchain technologies to adopt a different approach to corporate communications.

Article by Andrés Luther and Fabien Aufrechter, Blockchain Switzerland/AMO, 4 February 2020

Victor Schmid und Andrés Luther im Interview mit der Neuen Zürcher Zeitung

(PDF - 274 KB)

Victor Schmid und Andrés Luther, Partner von Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Konsulenten, sprechen im Interview mit der NZZ über gute Medienarbeit und zeigen, weshalb es mehr Transparenz in der Politik braucht. Und sie erklären, weshalb Donald Trump ein stilbildender Kommunikator ist.

Interview mit Victor Schmid und Andrés Luther, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 21. Februar 2020