Nine agencies secure place on DoH PR roster

Nine agencies have been selected for the Department of Health's first PR roster and the chance to handle around £500,000 worth of government PR work.

The roster includes four agencies that have already worked on DoH campaigns: Countrywide Porter Novelli, the Forster Company, Brewer Blackler and Munro & Forster.

The other agencies - Fishburn Hedges, Bell Pottinger Communications, Harrison Cowley, Atlas and Geronimo - are all new to DoH PR campaigns, although Leeds-based Atlas produces the NHS Magazine.

The DoH is understood to be preparing a raft of pitches for the new roster, but a spokeswoman would not disclose the nature of the campaigns.

One current PR project is the 'Mind Out' campaign, which is being handled by The Forster Company and aims to raise awareness of mental health issues.

The setting up of the roster represents a bypassing of the COI Communications procurement service, which the department previously used, and follows a review process started earlier this year (PRWeek, 8 February), which was overseen by communications team leader Fiona Sampson.

A DoH spokeswoman said: 'This is not about rejecting the COI roster.

It's a recognition that the Department of Health is using services that have a certain type of expertise.'

The DoH will continue to use the COI for procurement of above-the-line marketing. The agencies will not work on issues such as private involvement in healthcare.

The DoH's PR unit is led by director of communications Sian Jarvis. Her campaign teams are divided into three sections: behavioural change; public information; and public confidence and understanding.

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