Pro-EU campaign group to boost PR function ahead of official launch

A new pro-EU campaign group, whose founder members include Finsbury chairman Roland Rudd and 2012 Olympics marketing chief Greg Nugent, is to bolster its PR function before its official launch this autumn.

The group, which goes by the working title of the In Campaign, has been set up to campaign to keep the UK in the EU. A referendum on the UK's membership will be held by the end of 2017.

In addition to Rudd and Nugent, founding members include Ryan Coetzee, who led the Liberal Democrats’ 2015 general election campaign; Labour general election candidate Will Straw; Conservative pollster Lord Cooper and Lucy Thomas, campaign director for the pro-EU business coalition Business for New Europe (BNE). Former Sainsbury’s chairman Lord Sainsbury is among those funding the campaign.

Rudd is also chairman of BNE, but Thomas told PRWeek that the new group would have a "new and distinct entity" from BNE, with a focus "much broader than just the business argument".

She said it would emphasise the benefit of the EU to consumers and the environment, and highlight the impact on the UK of the potential British exit from the EU, often referred to as the 'Brexit'.

Thomas added: "We are not going to defend the institution. If Brussels makes some ridiculous decisions we are not going to defend those. Likewise, there are some issues in terms of too much red tape."

In terms of personnel, Thomas said: "We have a small team, no more than 10 at the moment. We will be recruiting over the autumn, and it will become much bigger very quickly."

Asked if more PR roles would be added, she replied: "Yes, there will be some. There will be a whole suite of things. The communications function is a large part of what we’re doing but there are also things like research, there’s a huge-scale operation in terms of partners and stakeholders and reaching out to other groups and people across the country. It’s a huge logistical challenge as well."

Thomas, a former BBC journalist who joined BNE in 2012 as head of media and public affairs, said she expected the new organisation to act as an umbrella group for other pro-EU bodies that have been emerging in the run-up to the vote.

The official launch of the new organisation is expected in September.

Nugent was director of brand, marketing and culture for London 2012. His CV also includes five years as marketing director at Eurostar.

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