NEWS: PR praise and Labour brickbats for Lord Gummer

Shandwick plc chairman Peter Gummer has been awarded a life peerage, along with fellow Tory communications adviser Maurice Saatchi.

Shandwick plc chairman Peter Gummer has been awarded a life peerage,

along with fellow Tory communications adviser Maurice Saatchi.



The announcement immediately sparked a political row. Labour furiously

condemned the Conservatives for rewarding the architects of its current

burst of negative campaigning, including the controversial advertisement

which ‘demonised’ Tony Blair.



Both Gummer and Saatchi are currently away on holiday, but Conservative

spokesmen rejected the accusations and highlighted the contribution the

pair have made towards building business in the UK.



Meanwhile the PR industry welcomed news of the peerages. ‘It is

fantastic for the PR business,’ said former PRCA chairman Quentin Bell.

‘It is a recognition of the fact that the UK is a world leader in PR and

advertising.’



As chairman of Shandwick, Gummer heads the world’s largest independent

PR firm. Last year, the company, which he started from an attic office

in 1974, registered an operating income of pounds 108.8 million, 2,000

clients, 1,900 employees and 134 offices in 45 countries.



He is one of the best known figures in the PR industry and much admired

for establishing the precedent of a non-advertising-backed, UK-based PR

multinational, and for taking the lead on key industry issues such as

evaluation and training.



Column, p3



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