COI overhaul ushers in consumer PR shops

The Central Office of Information (COI) has heralded a new era in government communications policy by appointing specialist consumer agencies to its PR roster for the first time.

The 31-strong list of agencies includes consumer specialists Kazoo Communications, Cake, Cunning, The Fish Can Sing and Frank PR.

COI deputy director of PR Janice O’Reilly said: ‘This is about pitching the citizen at the heart of communications so we need agencies with a very strong understanding of the consumer.’

August.One Communications, Citigate Communications, QBO Bell Pottinger and Kinross & Render are among 11 agencies to have been dropped.

The previous roster of 28 shops was drawn up in 2001. The COI’s annual PR spend topped £10m in 2003/4 compared to £7m in 2002/3.

The roster contains 16 new agencies. The others are Amazon PR, Blue Rubicon, Cohn & Wolfe, Four Communications, Freud Communications, Harrison Cowley, Lexis Public Relations, Manning Selvage & Lee, Munro & Forster Communications, Ptarmigan and Trimedia Communications.

Applications to be included on the roster came from 170 agencies.

The Department for Education and Skills has its own PR roster, while the Department for Work and Pensions is in the process of creating one. They both use the COI’s roster on a project basis.

COI is also to review its ad roster next spring. It wants agencies launched since its last roster was formed four years ago to apply.

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