BBC and Brunswick, Huawei's baby steps, PR and pub
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

BBC and Brunswick, Huawei's baby steps, PR and pub

Paul Holmes

The BBC's woes are likely to return to the spotlight with the publication of the Pollard Report transcripts next month, which are expected to air yet more of the organization's dirty laundry in public. The Report itself, which came out last month, already contains one nugget of particular interest to the PR industry - that Brunswick was called in at the height of the Savile crisis to provide press office support. Meanwhile the Press Gazette registers "astonishment" that the BBC employs nearly 150 staff. Frankly, I think the more surprising issue is that the Beeb still cannot get its comms right with such a big team. Are we to believe that Huawei is ushering in a new era of openness and transparency? Perhaps. The famously secretive Chinese tech company took the unusual step of putting forward Cathy Meng, chief financial officer and daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, to meet reporters last week - and touted the first public appearance by a member of the founder's family as proof of a new commitment to transparency. Even if these are baby steps, Huawei certainly needs to open up if it hopes to continue its global expansion. Meng's stumbles, however, do not necessarily augur well. In theory, PR people are supposed to be the conscience of an organization. In reality, in my experience, this does not happen often enough. So imagine my surprise at a new study which concludes that PR people always put the public interest ahead of their employers' interests. Then I found out that the study was based on the responses from these PR people themselves. Although the Register's take is a little too cynical for our liking, I'm inclined to agree with its general conclusion. Shinzo Abe is already getting high marks for his public relations strategy since returning to power in Japan. And that counts as a surprise, given the usual communications missteps that befall Japan's leaders. Abe's comprehensive PR strategy can probably be seen as another step in the evolution of Japan's attitude towards public relations. Much of this, no doubt, has been triggered by some specific events, including the tragic tsunami in 2011 and the Toyota crisis. On a lighter note, "10 brave souls" are to contend for a job that Ryanair proudly calls the worst in PR - succeeding Stephen McNamara as head of the controversial airline's communications operation. The job sounds tough enough, but surely the bigger test will be going "toe-to-toe" with Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary as part of the interview process? (UPDATE: Ryanair has since announced that comms manager Robin Kiely ("31 but looks 15") has emerged as the new comms director. "Robin can now kiss his family goodbye", says O'Leary. You can't fault Ryanair for not having a sense of humour. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="550" caption="Kiely takes charge as McNamara departs"][/caption]  
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