Arun Sudhaman 12 Dec 2011 // 12:00AM GMT
LONDON--Al Jazeera English is extending its relationship with Burson-Marsteller UK, following a campaign to mark the news channel’s fifth anniversary last month.
Burson-Marsteller was initially brought aboard in mid-2011 to help build a UK media relations programme designed to raise awareness of Al Jazeera English’s news output, and the distinctive qualities of its journalism throughout the Arab Spring.
The relationship is now being extended beyond its fifth anniversary to continue honing Al Jazeera English’s positioning.
12 months ago, the Holmes Report revealed that Al Jazeera was searching for a UK firm to help it shed a lingering reputation as the “mouthpiece of terror,” according to one source familiar with the situation.
In addition, Al Jazeera English was aiming to boost viewer numbers in the UK and Europe. In 2006, the channel appointed Brown Lloyd James to handle its launch, but the firm stopped working on the account in 2008.
The current relationship is being led by Burson-Marsteller director Dan Humphreys, a former press manager at ITN and Channel 4 News. He is supported by an account team from B-M’s brand marketing practice Be More, including former Al Jazeera English producer Oliver Druttman, former BBC News producer Sion Rogers, and digital strategist Sara Beirne.
“The UK is a key market for us where we are both widely available and recognised for our work – we’ve won a range of news awards including Freesat’s News Channel of the Year three years running,” said Al Jazeera director of communications and international relations Satnam Matharu. “We’re very pleased to be working with Burson-Marsteller and with their activities in helping to build audience awareness of Al Jazeera English for both television and online.”
Recent Al Jazeera exclusives have included the first report and video footage of Muammar Gaddafi’s capture and death; a David Frost interview with Donald Rumsfeld; and, Michel Platini’s calls for a winter World Cup in Qatar in 2022.
“Al Jazeera English has an incredible story to tell,” added Humphreys. “As a leading global news broadcaster that is effecting real social change through the quality of its journalism, our goal is for the channel to be a standard part of the public’s daily news diet here in the UK.”
Prior to its 2006 launch Al Jazeera English hired a number of high-profile TV journalists, including David Frost, Rageh Omar and Riz Khan. The network’s stated objective is “to give voice to untold stories, promote debate, and challenge established perceptions.”