Review sees British Airways slash global comms spend

The cost-cutting frenzy that has engulfed British Airways has now spread to its PR spend with the airline cutting global comms budgets by one fifth.

BA: cabin crew rejected cost-cutting plans
BA: cabin crew rejected cost-cutting plans

PRWeek has learned that BA is poised to appoint Fleishman-Hillard to handle its global PR business. Cohn & Wolfe has overseen the Northern Europe account for the past decade, but loses out as a result of BA’s determination to bring down its £2m PR spend.

Earlier this week, BA cabin-crew workers overwhelm­ingly rejected a slew of cost-cutting proposals, raising
the spectre of a crippling summer strike.

Meanwhile 800 of the airline’s staffers have committed to work without pay this month.

‘In some senses it is asking agencies to give up a month’s pay as well,’ said a source inv­olved in the PR review, adding that BA had asked agencies to reduce the current £2m PR budget by at least 20 per cent.

Cohn & Wolfe regional director Mark Cater said: ‘BA’s desire to significantly drive down costs means we are no longer able to match its req­uirements without impacting our high quality service.’

BA called the review earlier this year (prweek.com, 1 May). The airline is believed to be in final negotiations with F-H to handle the account covering Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, but not the UK and the US.

In addition to Cohn & Wolfe, the pitch included Pacific region incumbent Grayling and MS&L.

BA PR manager Anne Morton said: ‘Cost is obviously a key factor in our selection criteria, but quality of service, media relations skills and the ability to cover our extensive global network are equally important.’

The review follows a consolidation of BA’s global comms structure into one geographic region, headed by PR manager Anne Morton.

At its peak three years ago the business was understood to be worth £3m.

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