INTERNATIONAL: O2 Ireland completes its comms overhaul

DUBLIN: Mobile services firm O2 has completed a PR agency overhaul in the Republic of Ireland, doubling its number of retained agencies from two to four.

O2 Ireland communications director Edel O'Leary has hired four agencies: Drury Communications, Fleishman-Hillard Saunders, Slattery Communications and Simpson Financial and Technology Public Relations.

O'Leary said the agencies would share an annual external PR spend of around £350,000, adding that she had yet to decide how the fees would be shared out, and that she had only held 'initial scoping' meetings with each agency, following the decision to hire them.

She described Drury Communications as having 'lead agency' status, with the responsibility of handling a corporate brief to promote strategic developments.

Fleishman-Hillard Saunders will handle public affairs, Simpson will be responsible for B2B work and Slattery will take care of consumer PR and sponsorship work.

The agencies were hired after a pitch process that began around ten weeks ago.

Until the review, Prior Communications handled O2 Ireland's consumer PR and Fleishman-Hillard Saunders looked after the remainder of the firm's externally handled PR work.

O'Leary cited full mobile number portability - which will allow customers to retain their entire number when switching operators - as one of the issues that will inform O2's PR strategy.

O'Leary, who heads a 12-strong in-house comms team, PR and sponsorship department, described mobile number portability - which is expected to come into effect next month - as a 'huge issue' in Ireland's telecoms sector.

The agency changes complete the most significant overhaul in external PR support that O2 Ireland - formerly known as Digifone - has undertaken in six years.

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