Arun Sudhaman 30 Aug 2017 // 8:45AM GMT
LONDON — British Airways is seeking PR counsel, the Holmes Report has learned, as the beleaguered airline attempts to revive a reputation that has been battered in recent months.
The Holmes Report understands that BA has contacted London PR firms regarding a corporate reputation management brief, focusing in particular on support for CEO Alex Cruz — who has borne the brunt of criticism for the airline's perceived shortcomings.
Doubts have surfaced over whether the former Vueling CEO is the right person for the job after the airline's handling of a disastrous computer crash that stranded 75,000 passengers earlier this year. BA's check-in system has failed seven times in the past 12 months, most recently at the start of August.
Cruz has refocused BA towards cost-cutting since joining the airline last year, in a bid to fend off budget rivals. Those moves, however, have also led to persistent media and customer criticism, particularly in UK tabloids — which have questioned BA's longstanding reputation as an elite airline.
The corporate brief comes with BA due to review its worldwide agency relationships, which currently include Grayling (Europe and Asia-Pacific), Action Global (Middle East and Central Asia) and Meropa (Africa). BA's PR support represents one of the few marketing communications areas that is not handled by WPP, which recently consolidated creative, media, social media and paid search.
BA's last worldwide agency review was 12 months ago, when it chose to extend its incumbent agencies until this year. The review is expected to attract interest from global PR networks, although the arrival of new BA head of brand and customer experience Carolina Martinoli may yet delay the process.
BA head of global PR Kathryn Williamson told the Holmes Report that the airline "has dialogue with a wide range of communications agencies" but declined to "comment on individual suppliers."