INTERNATIONAL: Elsevier pitch for UK, US and Holland brief

AMSTERDAM: Publishing giant Elsevier is cranking up its global communications, with pitches for agency support expected within months.

Global corporate relations director Eric Merkel-Sobotta said he plans to hire an agency in the US to handle 'classic corporate comms and corporate social responsibility work', alongside possible hires in The Netherlands and the UK.

Merkel-Sobotta, who took on Elsevier's newly created top PR position last November, said he was 'basically starting from scratch' in terms of Elsevier's external PR efforts, although he said some ad hoc agency support had been used in the past.

Merkel-Sobotta, who reports to New York-based US chief executive John Regazzi, who holds the dual role as MD marketing development, said he was to recruit two senior communicators to focus on external PR in the US and Amsterdam.

He confirmed that the existing nine-strong in-house PR team will continue to focus on internal comms.

'In Amsterdam (Elsevier's global headquarters) we need to set up a corporate press office,' said Merkel-Sobotta.

He explained that the group placed an added emphasis on its global corporate comms after parent firm Reed Elsevier acquired US publisher Harcourt General 18 months ago.

Merkel-Sobotta said on his international PR plans: 'In the US the aim is just to "get our name out there", whereas in the UK it's an issue of differentiating us in the market.'

Before joining Elsevier - which specialises in scientific journals, such as Toxicon - Merkel-Sobotta spent eight months as managing director of Ogilvy PR Worldwide in Brussels.

Prior to that he spent four years as a director of APCO Europe in Brussels and deputy managing director of APCO Deutschland in Berlin.

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