Royal Mail doubles agency roster but halves budget

The Royal Mail Group has halved its PR spend to £2.5m while simultaneously more than doubling the number of PR agencies on its roster.

Five agencies will handle PR work across the Royal Mail Group's three divisions: Royal Mail, the Post Office and Parcelforce Worldwide.

Cohn & Wolfe, Countrywide Porter Novelli, Eulogy!, August.One Communications and Shine Communications have secured the work after a ten-week competitive pitch. They will work alongside Communications Services, the Royal Mail Group's in-house PR team.

Royal Mail Group external relations director Paul Budd confirmed the agencies would share a PR budget of £2.5m, a fall from £5m last year.

He said the budget cut had been made because 'the company is losing around £1m per day at the moment'.

Earlier this month the group ditched the widely-lampooned name Consignia, reverting to its original name. Consignia was adopted last year when the group converted to a Plc.

Budd said no decision had yet been made as to what work will be handled by which agency, but said PR would be focused on the group's most profitable divisions and products, adding that the special delivery business was a priority as that product 'consistently beats its performance targets'.

Two years ago the group had three firms - GCI, QBO and C&W - on its roster.

Of those three, only the latter has remained.

GCI ceased to work for the group 12 months ago and QBO is to complete 'a couple of pieces of work' before its contract expires, according to Budd. Of these two agencies, only QBO was involved in this latest repitch.

The hired agencies report to the Royal Mail Group's eight-strong corporate press team, headed by senior PR manager Melanie Corfield and PR manager Patrick O'Neill.

Parcelforce Worldwide, which began a restructure in March, now focuses on express products. Since then it has closed 35 of its 100 depots and laid off 3,000 staff. Standard parcel delivery is now handled by the core Royal Mail division.

Budd said a priority for the Post Office was increasing the number of banking facilities available in post offices and boosting its financial services offer, such as bureau de change and insurance.

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