BASINGSTOKE,UK--Chinese networking giant Huawei has selected Pelham Bell Pottinger and Harvard PR to handle corporate PR duties in the UK.
The company chose the duo, which pitched together, following a competitive review revealed earlier this year by the Holmes Report. The business was previously handled by five-year incumbent Fleishman-Hillard, which will continue to service consumer PR duties.
Last week, Huawei unveiled plans to invest £1.3bn in the UK, and create 500 jobs, after concerns over its security were raised in a 2009 government briefing. Consequently, the company set up a cybersecurity testing centre in Banbury, which is overseen by government intelligence agency GCHQ.
It has since expanded rapidly in the UK, winning contracts from BT and Everything Everywhere.
Huawei has faced particular political opposition to its expansion in Australia and the US, where the company has had to battle suspicions that it is linked to the Chinese military. Earlier this year, Huawei was banned by Australian authorities from bidding for development of the country's National Broadband Network.
The company has repeatedly denied that it is linked to the Chinese government. Huawei's global PR account is led by Burson-Marsteller Hong Kong, and it has also called in branding support to help it shift perceptions in the US.
Huawei UK communications director Ed Brewster said that Pelham is to oversee corporate reputation, while Harvard handles day-to-day B2B PR duties.
"We have been impressed with Pelham Harvard’s ability to deliver an integrated offering and team," said Brewster.
The two firms were previously part of Chime's Bell Pottinger Group, before an MBO saw Bell Pottinger-branded businesses depart to become Bell Pottinger Private. Harvard remains within Chime as part of the Good Relations Group.
The review is understood to have included as many as nine firms, including several tech PR firms that pitched in combination with corporate/financial firms. The brief included a requirement for senior-level corporate counsel, and aims to raise awareness of Huawei among telecoms, technology and infrastructure buyers.