BBC hires Shield as comms director

LONDON: The BBC has named the Department for Work and Pensions' director of comms, John Shield, as its director of communications, with interim director Julian Payne moving to a new role.

LONDON: The BBC has named the Department for Work and Pensions' director of comms, John Shield, as its director of communications, with interim director Julian Payne moving to a new role.

Reporting to James Purnell, director of strategy and digital, Shield will oversee communications strategy as well as lead the public affairs and communications group.

He will join the company from the DWP, where he is director of communications. He will take on the role in November.

His appointment follows the announced departure of former comms head Paul Mylrea and a traumatic year for the BBC labeled an “annus horribilis” by culture secretary Maria Miller. It included a controversy over executive pay-offs and the Jimmy Savile scandal, during which the communications team came under heavy scrutiny.

Shield previously worked at the BBC for two years, from 2008 as head of comms for journalism, but left to join public transport company Go-Ahead in 2010.

He joined the DWP a year later. Since then, he has spearheaded campaigns for UK Conservative politician Iain Duncan Smith's major welfare reforms. Julian Payne, who held the role on an interim basis, will move to lead the BBC's recently announced review of Trust and Executive working practices. 

“[Shield] is a first-class director of comms with a wide range of experience across broadcasting, government, and the commercial sector,” said BBC Director General Tony Hall. “He joins the BBC at an incredibly important time for the corporation as we strive to re-establish trust with our audiences and move towards a new chapter in the BBC's history.”

“The BBC is one of the most talked about, hotly debated, and important of our institutions – touching the lives of millions of people here and around the world every day,” said Shield. “For these reasons, it is a demanding but fascinating challenge – I look forward to leading an excellent communications team in taking it on.”

Shield's career has also included stints at the UK Department of Communities and Local Government and Department for Education and Skills.

This story originally appeared on the website of PRWeek UK.

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