NEWS: Diana picks Atkinson as new media adviser

The Princess of Wales has hired broadcast sponsorship and PR consultancy Atkinson Courage to plug the gap left by the departure of former press secretary Geoff Crawford.

The Princess of Wales has hired broadcast sponsorship and PR consultancy

Atkinson Courage to plug the gap left by the departure of former press

secretary Geoff Crawford.



Co-founder and director Jane Atkinson began work earlier this week as

personal media adviser to the Princess, who this week faced the loss of

private secretary Patrick Jephson and two other staff.



Twice-married Atkinson, 48, will work closely with the Buckingham Palace

press office and staff at St James’s Palace, while continuing to work

with existing Atkinson Courage clients. These include United Distillers,

IBM and the Equal Opportunities Commission



‘The consultancy continues with the Princess of Wales as one of our

clients, but I will be acting as her personal adviser,’ Atkinson told PR

Week.



The search for a new press secretary began before Christmas, and St

James’s Palace is understood to have talked to a number of consultancies

and PR professionals before drawing up a short list. The Princess was

apparently keen to use a consultancy rather than appoint an in-house

replacement for Crawford, who resigned following her controversial

Panorama interview. Atkinson says that her new role will involve

working ‘with the princess to deliver a long term strategy as well as

dealing with the day-to-day media handling of her engagements’.



A corporate PR veteran of 20-years, Atkinson is a former deputy chairman

of the Rowland Company and founder of Countrywide-owned Affinity

Consulting. She teamed up with Rowland’s director of broadcasting, Robin

Courage to launch Atkinson Courage in February 1995.



She has three children and is said to share Diana’s interest in fitness

and alternative therapies. Former colleague Bill Jones of Lexis PR said:

‘Jane is professional and a good listener. She has seen a bit of life

and will be able to empathise with the Princess.’



PR consultant Max Clifford said the challenge for Diana’s new media

adviser would be ‘whether she is strong enough to control her’. The

Princess, he said, had been ‘more inclined to listen to advice from

various people outside’ rather than her own staff. Other observers

doubted whether Atkinson could do the job on a part-time basis.



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