Marks and Spencer is to assign each of its board executives a
specific PR minder as part of the retailer’s latest bid to open up the
company to the press and public.
The move is aimed at improving communication channels between the
decision-making executives and the media. It had been developed
following a programme of media training aimed at improving media
awareness within the company.
Jane Lowe, head of corporate press, said the plan was part of a shift
within M&S to a more proactive PR footing and a greater understanding of
the media agenda. It represents a move from the reactive policy which
previously relied on a more low-key corporate press office. She said:
’This is not about blocking; it is very much about going out and giving
all the help we can.’
The communications executives will continue to report to Clara Freeman,
the executive director whose responsibilities include corporate affairs
and human resources.
However, the change in company policy, which has still not been
finalised, will inevitably mean the development of a closer relationship
between the board and the PR department.
The news comes in the wake of other changes in the company’s PR
strategy, which have seen the retailer bring in its first PROs from
outside the company (PR Week, 22 October).
Lowe believes the blend of internal and external expertise will allow
the PR department to reduce its reliance on its corporate PR agency,
Brunswick, although Lowe insisted this did not mean the relationship
would be discontinued.