Psion cuts in-house and external comms function

Troubled technology group Psion has scaled back its entire in-house

and external comms function, as the firm pulls out of the hand-held

computer market.



Psion head of communications Peter Bancroft confirmed the group has

halved its in-house PR team and slashed its agency roster following a

reassessment of the firm's PR needs.



The move comes as Psion prepares to refocus from personal organisers -

the sector in which the group has made its name - to concentrate instead

on the corporate enterprise market.



Bancroft said the decision prompted a review of group communications,

which has seen all PR taken in-house and integrated into one

division.



'As the needs of consumer PR will probably diminish we have integrated

the full gamut of communications so we can cover investor relations,

financial PR and corporate communications in one team,' said

Bancroft.



He added: 'The company has changed and the markets we are operating in

have changed and the communications function has had to change to take

account of that.'



Psion's in-house PR team was formerly divided into corporate PR, led by

Bancroft, and product PR, led by former head of PR Anthony Garvey.



Garvey left last week after nine years with the group to launch and head

the Dublin office of technology PR firm Hotwire PR, which Psion hired on

a project basis earlier this year to launch its netpad product.



He will not be replaced at Psion, marking the group's decision to shift

away from consumer and product PR.



The firm's PR team now stands at just two in the UK. Bancroft said they

have also decided not to continue retaining consumer and B2B agency

Lewis PR, which was hired last year (PRWeek, 14 June 2000).



Previously retained consultancy Axicom has likewise been dropped. Psion

has also used City PR firm Brunswick and CompanyCare for projects in the

past.



Bancroft said: 'We will take PR in-house and look for agency assistance

on a project-by-project basis only.'



Psion's decision to move out of the hand-held PDA market reflects the

increasing competition from technology giants such as Microsoft.



Earlier this year, the group reported losses of £54.4m for the six

months to June and a £41m exceptional charge for withdrawing from

the consumer computer market.



More than 350 jobs will be cut across Psion's workforce as a result of

its refocus.



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