Maintaining a positive and credible public perception is central to the
TUC’s PR strategy
Mike Love, McDonald’s’ head of communications leads a team of 12 staff
operating on an in-house budget of almost pounds 3.2 million with a
further pounds 400,000 spent on external suppliers.
Supported by two senior managers, three managers and four support staff,
Love is responsible for the whole gamut of communications at the
company. Three regional officers based in London, Salford and Sutton
Coldfield deal with PR across the firm’s six UK regions.
This year the marketing department took over responsibility for sports
sponsorship activities, leaving the communications team to handle
charity, youth and environment initiatives. Two of Love’s staff were
also handed the internal communications brief.
Love himself reports to senior vice-president Ed Oakley, although Oakley
has no direct responsibility for communications. ‘We are totally
independent in terms of our functions,’ says Love. ‘The department has
evolved from being a reactive press office to a tool of decision
McDonald’s retains three agencies in the UK: The Communications Group
for political monitoring and analysis; Scope Communications for
assistance on all other aspects of PR; and Anderson Kenney which
provides a similar service to Scope in Northern Ireland.
NatWest Insurance Services
NatWest Insurance Services is the Bristol-based subsidiary of NatWest
UK, which offers household, small business, travel insurance, income and
credit protection and independent financial advice.
Although well-respected within the industry sector for its insurance
services, NatWest had not previously specifically promoted the profile
of the products to the general public, all PR being handled by the
central NatWest press office.
However, 12 months ago a subsidiary corporate affairs department was set
up at NatWest Insurance Services and headed up by Barbara Bennett.
Bennett now works with a team of three and a budget of pounds 250,000.
Around 20 per cent of its work is farmed out to Le Fevre Communications,
which handles ad hoc project work.
Bennett reports directly to Steve Wells, managing director of NatWest
Insurance Services, and works closely with NatWest UK’s main press
office, which puts out all releases on behalf of NWIS. In fact, one of
the major challenges for Bennett has been establishing NWIS’s corporate
affairs department as a point of contact for the media on specifically
insurance related issues, around 50 per cent of all calls still being
fielded through the Nat West press office.
Bennett’s also handles internal communications for the company’s 1,400
staff, including the production of a internal magazine Viewpoint every
two months, and sitting in on monthly Nat West UK internal comms
forums. The department also supports NWIS’s national and local community
and environmental initiatives in terms of logistics, internal and
With community care and mental health issues becoming increasingly hot
political potatoes, MIND (The Mental Health Charity) has developed a
highly effective communications machinery. The charity’s PR department
is headed up by appeals and marketing director Clive Caseley who
oversees MIND’s two press officers, a corporate marketing department and
national lottery applications.
Also reporting to Caseley is Angela Hendra, MIND’s head of corporate
communications who tackles what Caseley refers to as MIND’s brand
management. Lobbying and parliamentary affairs are handled by MIND’s
legal department headed up by Kate Harrison.
As the policy headquarters of what is essentially a loose network of
care organisations, MIND’s London office is the control centre of all
national statements on mental health issues. As an educational charity
MIND has a proactive relationship with the press, developing interest in
issues such as 24-hour access for crisis care, plus the ongoing problems
of neglect and lack of care experienced by people in mental distress.
With credibility such a central issue, communications is inevitably high
on the agenda. ‘The issue of communications is taken extremely
seriously, it is most of what our organisation is all about. How we are
perceived by the media directly affects how effective we can be,’ says
Set up two years ago from what used to be the press and information
department, the TUC’s campaigns and communications department now has a
staff of ten led by the head of communications John Healey.
As Healey explains, the TUC has actively attempted to position itself as
a campaigning body on legal rights and social issues that are relevant
to union members and non-members alike. ‘We are trying to find new ways
of talking to people,’ he says. ‘There has been a shift in strategy to
try and reach audiences that know nothing about unions and also to test
new methods of communications for unions and their members.’
As part of this new strategy Healey points to recent advertising by the
TUC and its anti-racism campaign earlier this year. This included
organising the Respect festival in London’s Finsbury Park in July which
drew 80,000 visitors and support for the release of a pop record on the
same theme. Apart from handling special projects, the campaigns and
communications department manages relations with the media and
parliament, produces a range of publications, organises conferences and
markets exhibition space at conferences and other events. ‘We are much
more active than the old department which was more reactive and just
tended to send out press releases and answer enquiries,’ says Healey.
Healey, who operates with an internal budget of pounds 150,000 and
external spend of pounds 110,000 reports directly to the TUC’s general
secretary John Monks and is also a member of the congress’s senior
management team. ‘Reporting to Monks is crucial because the department
often speaks on his behalf so you have to have that level of trust and
freedom,’ he says.