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.