Senior Tory PR professionals have formed a new group to provide unofficial comms advice to the Conservative Party.
Conservatives in Communications is being led by Lord Guy Black, executive director of the Telegraph Media Group and a former Tory comms director under Michael Howard’s leadership.
PRWeek understands that the group was launched last month with a drinks reception on the terrace of Tory lobbyist Kevin Bell’s riverside penthouse flat.
Bell, a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, recently stepped down from his role as Fleishman-Hillard’s regional president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The group is said to have been initiated by Lionel Zetter, the well-networked lobbyist and former Tory election agent. In 2009, Zetter penned Blue Print – a guide to ‘the policies, principles and personalities of the new Conservative government’.
It is understood that dozens of lobbyists and corporate PR chiefs attended the drinks reception, along with staffers from Conservative Party Campaign Headquarters.
In the late 1980s, Labour set up a shadow communications group, made up principally of senior media figures giving their services voluntarily, while the Liberal Democrats currently have Lib Dems in PR. But the Conservative Party has lacked an equivalent grouping.
One PR boss present at the Tory launch event said the group could assist the party with focus groups, messaging and policy development. ‘Until now, there has been no mechanism for the party to access the expertise of those working in comms,’ said the source. ‘We just want to be there if required.’
Lord Black was out of the country and could not be reached for comment.