Opinion: Media opt to belittle a coup for Brunswick

How appropriate that a buoyant year for PR consultancies should close with one of the UK's biggest firms bringing in an experienced business leader as CEO.

Brunswick's hire of Stephen Carter - former head of Ofcom, NTL and J Walter Thompson in London - marks a step-change for the agency, and arguably for the whole sector.

It was significant to see how the story was reported in national media this week. The implication being that Carter - until last month hotly tipped to be the next ITV chief - could only have opted to join a PR shop for the money, in particular a payout if Brunswick was floated or sold. One broadsheet even went as far as expressing outright surprise, pointing out that there were few notable cases of PR executives, with the possible exception of David Cameron, moving on to ‘big roles in public life'.

On the contrary, Carter's appointment is a major endorsement for the PR profession, and should be seen in the context of rival Financial Dynamics' successful £132m acquisition by US group FTI Consulting.

Carter is joining yet another seriously successful and fast-expanding British consultancy business; Brunswick has 56 highly paid partners, must generate £150m in the UK alone, and is close to replicating this overseas, via 14 offices in ten countries.

Carter and his chairman Alan Parker rightly argue that multinational firms now place unprecedented value on strategic comms and corporate compliance. Moreover, both see huge potential for growth.

This is not to say that Carter faces an easy ride. His job is to manage a cultural shift for Brunswick to a much bigger, more integrated business that can service clients in multiple capital markets. All this with the founder, and one of the UK's richest and most influential men, breathing down his neck. But then Carter has rarely taken the easy career option.

The next issue of PRWeek is on 12 January. Have a happy Christmas and an even more successful 2007.
danny.rogers@haynet.com

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