Southwark grabs BT’s Appleby for top PR role

The London Borough of Southwark has appointed BT PRO Sue Appleby to head its 12-strong comms department. She replaces Amanda Hirst, who joined Southwark as its first head of comms and marketing in 1996 and left in July.

It is understood the post is currently being held on an interim basis by consultant Leslie Cramp, former head of comms at the London Borough of Newham.

The Southwark job will see Appleby, a fellow of the IPR, take her first public sector position after a stint of more than ten years at BT.

Her projects at BT include working on regional broadband partnerships with local and regional government.

Appleby will report to assistant chief executive Sarah Naylor. She takes up the post on 4 October, overseeing all comms activity, encompassing media relations, web, marketing and publications such as Southwark Life.

Southwark’s comms activity has been praised by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) for implementing a strategy that has helped the council improve customer satisfaction rates.

Southwark council is rated as ‘good’ under the Audit Commission’s Comprehensive Performance Assessment. It also has Beacon Status from ODPM for its community safety work through the Safer Southwark Partnership.

Communications challenges facing Southwark council involve the modernisation of customer services, such as setting up a new customer call centre in 2005 and tailoring communications for a diverse population.

It will also communicate its £1.5bn regeneration project, which involves transforming the Elephant and Castle this year.

Previous issues that have been handled by the communications team include the Damilola Taylor murder trial, and the borough’s mayoral referendum.

Appleby was unavailable for comment as PRWeek went to press.

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