Profile: Joanna Manning-Cooper, GTech - A cool head in times of crisis - Camelot’s Joanna Manning-Cooperis moving to the hot seat at GTech

Joanna Manning-Cooper, who joins lottery company GTech on 26 May, is bashfully reluctant to be profiled aat first. ’Oh no, not the back page thing,’ she groans. When she does finally agree to the interview, it is only after deciding that it is an opportunity to get some positive messages across on behalf of her new employers.

Joanna Manning-Cooper, who joins lottery company GTech on 26 May,

is bashfully reluctant to be profiled aat first. ’Oh no, not the back

page thing,’ she groans. When she does finally agree to the interview,

it is only after deciding that it is an opportunity to get some positive

messages across on behalf of her new employers.



GTech, which supplies Camelot with lottery technology, certainly needs

an injection of positive PR. Fall-out from the highly publicised libel

case between Virgin boss, Richard Branson, and GTech chairman Guy

Snowden, led to Snowden’s resignation and to Camelot’s decision to sever

its equity ties with GTech.



’It’s a different company now,’ insists Manning-Cooper. It’s a mantra

which her new boss Bob Rendine repeats, and Manning-Cooper’s first

challenge will be to convey that apparent change to GTech’s

audiences.



Aidan McGurran, lottery correspondent for the Mirror, says there is

general interest in what is happening at GTech. ’They’ve been very

remote from journalists in the past,’ he says. ’Taking on someone who is

familiar with the UK Lottery and the UK press is a wise move.’



Manning-Cooper’s youth - she is 27 - may come as a surprise to some.



’She is quite young, but she’s very good,’ says David Rigg, former

communications director at Camelot. ’And she’s been in a hot-house

environment where people learn fast or not at all.’



Three years at Camelot has helped Manning-Cooper develop her ability to

operate under pressure. The press office is the busiest in the country

after Downing Street, with an average of 1,000 calls a week. And while

she admits to a number of sleepless nights, the lowest point for her was

the leak of Camelot’s financial results last May.



’I’m quite good under pressure but, for a couple of seconds, I really

felt like my world was falling apart.’ The furore which followed the

disclosure that some directors were getting 40 per cent bonuses, seemed

to come as something of a surprise to Camelot. As one journalist who

covered the story says: ’They never had a very good explanation for why

the directors should get so much money.’



Rigg thinks Manning-Cooper is regarded as trustworthy by the press.

’She’s one of those people who you know is not going to lie to you,’ he

says.



Manning-Cooper originally wanted to be a sports journalist - as a huge

football fan she spends most weekends driving to matches, supporting her

home town team of Portsmouth. However, after leaving Hull University she

found herself too encumbered with debts to fund the post-graduate

journalism course she wanted to do. ’There was a big recession on and I

thought I was so lucky to be offered a job with the (Government

Information Service) that it would be stupid to turn it down,’ she

says.



She accepted a job at the Welsh Office, and found herself in the

unenviable position of presenting the policies of a Conservative

government to an electorate which had predominantly voted against the

Party.



The experience taught Manning-Cooper that she enjoyed a challenging task

- good preparation for her new role. ’The key message is that GTech is a

first class supplier of lottery technology,’ she says. ’If people have

to queue because the machinery has broken down, they’re going to stop

buying tickets.’



While Manning-Cooper will initially focus on the UK, Europe also comes

under her remit. GTech supplies the technology for lotteries in European

countries including the Czech Republic, Ireland, Spain and Denmark.



’I’ll have to brush up on my rusty French and German,’ she adds. ’I

might get one of those tapes to listen to while I’m driving to

Portsmouth games.’



The only downside of joining GTech is that she’s had to shelve her plans

for a three-week World Cup trip.



HIGHLIGHTS



1993 - Publicity officer, Government Information Service, Welsh

office



1995 - Public affairs executive, Camelot



1996 - Media relations manager, Camelot



1997 - Corporate affairs manager, Camelot



1998 - Director of PR, UK and Europe, GTech



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