Church of England hires British Gas PR veteran

The Church of England has hired former British Gas communications chief Peter Crumpler to fill its resurrected communications director post.

Crumpler, who joined the church as communications officer for the Diocese of St Albans in 2001 after 20 years with British Gas, is to fill the newly created role in May.

His priority will be to carry out widespread improvements in comms highlighted in a critical report by strategic communications consultant David Kenning.

The report, which was commissioned by the church, said it needed to address a ‘fortress mentality’ towards the media and had failed in key objectives to appear united, confident and outward looking. Among its recommendations was the appointment of a comms director to drive through change.

The communications director role was last held two years ago by Bill Beaver, who quit to join the British Red Cross (PRWeek, 22 February 2002).

Crumpler said: ‘I’ll be addressing the issues raised by Kenning and looking at the resources we have.

‘It’s important to see how we can improve internal comms as well as the relationship with the media. I will be drawing on my experience as a Christian communicator as well as my experience in business,’ he added.

Crumpler said he also wanted to examine issues raised in the recent Phillis review into government communications, particularly on improving direct communication with the public and addressing accusations of spin. ‘These apply to most organisations, including the church,’ he said.

Crumpler joined British Gas as a press officer in 1981 before taking senior roles including international head of external affairs and, latterly, head of communications for BG Group.

While at St Albans he handled the church’s response to the Potters Bar rail crash in 2002 and the services to mark its anniversary last year.

Crumpler is an executive member of the Churches’ Media Council and chairs the ecunemical Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Churches Media Trust, which he helped to found in 1994.

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