Birmingham finally ends search for comms chief

Debra Davis, former communications supremo at the Canadian High Commission, has bagged the top PR post at Europe's largest local authority.

Her appointment ends a marathon recruitment period at Birmingham City Council. The authority had been without a permanent head of comms for more than three years (PRWeek, 4 December 2003).

With the title of director of public affairs and communications, Davis reports to recently hired CEO Stephen Hughes, leading a team of around 70 PROs.

Davis will oversee the city's comms on a regional, national and international basis, in what is effectively a new role at Birmingham.

‘We are putting a plan together to develop our international strategy on tourism, inward investment and business,' she said.

Other priorities for the council and its communications team include community cohesion and regeneration, she added.

The authority currently has a ‘two star' rating from the Audit Commission and boasts an annual budget of £1.45bn.

Davis was counsellor of public affairs at the Canadian High Commission in London from 1997 to 2001.

After leaving, she freelanced for clients including the Arab International Women's Forum, Air Canada and public affairs consultancy Urban Intelligence.

Davis commutes to her job in Birmingham - thought to carry a £90,000-a-year wage bill - from her home in Wiltshire. The Canadian national has lived in the UK for ten years, and once worked for former Canadian PM Pierre Trudeau.

Birmingham is yet to hire a head of news following the departure of the long-serving Audrey Geber (PRWeek, 31 March 2006).

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