News: Turner Broadcasting...

Turner Broadcasting faces a barrage of PR activity if the Time Warner merger goes ahead

Turner Broadcasting faces a barrage of PR activity if the Time Warner

merger goes ahead



Turner Broadcasting System



US multi-media conglomerate Turner Broadcasting System could soon become

even bigger should the merger with media giant Time Warner go ahead as

planned.



With its European headquarters in London, TBS has over 300 staff in the

UK. Its communications are overseen by Geraldine Sharpe-Newton, senior

vice-president international PR. ‘We strive to build relationships with

distributors who sell programmes to cable networks and with journalists

to ensure a high profile for the company’s products, says Sharpe-Newton.



PR activities range from promoting specific programmes, to developing

cable capacity in specific countries, which can include public affairs

work aimed at national governments or Brussels.



Although TBS no longer uses Cohn and Wolfe for its merchandising

activity, it still employs the MCM agency for ‘project specific

programming’ and Edelman in Germany. Sharpe-Newton says: ‘The appetite

for our activities continues to grow. If the proposed merger goes ahead

there will be a whole new basket of activities.’



Yorkshire Electricity



Yorkshire Electricity plc encompasses a group of companies covering

power generation and supply to residential and commercial customers. As

a privatised utility serving the same patch as the media-ravaged

Yorkshire Water it is, not surprisingly, well geared to handle media

issues.



Group media relations manager Dominic Cheetham meets the company’s

senior executives each week, there is a monthly team brief for the heads

of the businesses and ‘special team briefs’ are disseminated

electronically in response to any breaking news story.



Yorkshire Electricity has retained Ludgate for financial PR for the past

two years and Market Access for government affairs. Cheetham will not

disclose the PR budget but says the biggest cost is the production of

internal materials. Cheetham says the biggest single media issue remains

mergers and acquisitions. ‘For 18 months we have been tipped as the

prime take-over candidate and we still are according to national

analysts,’ he says.



The press department handles around 120 media enquiries each month. This

ranges from the reactive - regulatory announcements and take-over bids -

to the pro-active - initiatives on community relations and price cuts.



Cheetham said: ‘We’re broadening our media targeting in the run up to

the open electricity market of 1998. As the regional company with the

lowest average domestic bill, we’re getting that across to other areas

of the country and upsetting a lot of other RECs in the process.’



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