GEC ushers in new era of openness to press

GEC, one of the UK’s largest industrial conglomerates, has reversed its 30-year-old closed door policy to the press and is expanding its communications team to reflect the change.

GEC, one of the UK’s largest industrial conglomerates, has reversed

its 30-year-old closed door policy to the press and is expanding its

communications team to reflect the change.



Legend has it that under the leadership of GEC founder Lord Weinstock,

the company’s policy for dealing with the press was to ’let the phone

ring’. Now the company is appointing its first heads of media relations

and internal communications.



Martin Sixsmith, a former BBC correspondent and currently director of

information at the Department of Social Security, is to join as head of

media relations on 22 March.



Stuart Gendall, who arrives next week from listed company

Biocompatibles, where he was corporate communications director, will be

internal communications head.



The reported six-figure salary that comes with Sixsmith’s job reflects

the importance GEC’s chief executive Lord Simpson is placing on

communicating positive stories to the press as the company undergoes

widescale change.



Last November Simpson moved his head of marketing - the former Tory

defence minister Sir Geoffrey Pattie - to the role of group

communications director.



But the need for a hands-on operator is clearly apparent. Only last week

boardroom spats over the Marconi merger found their way into the

press.



Commenting on his appointment Sixsmith, a seasoned foreign

correspondent, said he was looking forward to working at GEC at a time

when it was forging a new identity.



’They’re very conscious of big changes. I think it’s fair to say that

they want to be more proactive in communicating with the press,’ he

added.



’The whole character of the company is changing and I assure you I will

be proactive in selling more positive stories about GEC to the

press.’



Meanwhile Gendall’s job will be to focus on communicating to GEC’s

100,000 employees - 55,000 of whom are in the UK - the changes that the

industrial giant is undergoing.



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