The prospect of chairing the PRCA from next May would be daunting
enough for most people. But Barry Leggetter, who was named to the post
last week, also has other things on his mind.
For one thing there is the future of Fleishman-Hillard, the
international agency of which he is UK managing director, and which is
currently being acquired by Omnicom. If negotiations over the coming
months are successful, he will be operating within the world’s largest
provider of PR services, alongside the agency he left for F-H three
years ago, Countrywide Porter Novelli. When quizzed about the deal,
Leggetter is loyal and adamant that he will not step out of line by
The cautious response is very much Leggetter’s style and in stark
contrast to the PRCA’s most outspoken chairman in recent years, Quentin
Bell. Some PRCA members feel the association has lacked a public
figurehead to maintain interest in the industry since Bell’s departure.
Current chairman Jackie Elliot has focused on internal PRCA matters and
worked hard to revitalise the association.
Leggetter describes his own style as a bridge between Bell and
He says: ’I’m not a Quentin Bell. Yes, I do want to be visible, but I
always want to be consultative. This is not a one man band office.’
Peter Hehir, chairman of Countrywide, where Leggetter was joint managing
director for ten years, describes him as ’a team player who likes to
lead from the front’. ’He’s an enormous enthusiast,’ Hehir adds.
A former journalist, Leggetter can claim the distinction of being, at
21, the youngest reporter on the Sun, where he worked for three years
until 1967. He then spent ten years in-house at construction and civil
engineering group Taylor Woodrow and brewery group Scottish and
Newcastle Breweries before joining Welbeck (now Welbeck Golin/Harris) in
He also claims to be an international authority on BS EN ISO 9000, a
quality accreditation which assesses the processes by which
organisations are run. ’It’s a bit of a passion of mine,’ says
Another passion is staff development - F-H spends more per head on
training that any other UK agency, according to Leggetter.
Leggetter’s stated aim is to make PRCA membership essential to serious
agencies by establishing the association as a symbol of quality in the
industry. ’We want it to be so well known that if you aren’t a member
you aren’t likely to get invited to pitch,’ he says.
He hopes to achieve this by ensuring that every member of the PRCA is
assessed according to a set of quality standards.
Asked for his own list of those who might represent the industry’s
highest standards he suggests Graham Lancaster, chairman of Biss
Lancaster, Antony Snow, chairman of Hill and Knowlton, Trevor Morris,
managing director of the Quentin Bell Organisation and Peter Hehir.
’They are solid without me suggesting in any way that they are boring,’
Leggetter himself is keen not to come across as a grey suit. He is a fan
of the energetic country rock singer Garth Brooks. ’In my afterlife I
want to be a reincarnated as a rock impresario,’ he says.
Colleagues describe Leggetter as conscientious and extremely hard
’Half the problem used to be to try to get him to work less hard,’ says
Leggetter, who has a wife and two daughters, rises before six on
weekdays and regularly works evenings and weekends. He is determined
that his chairmanship of the PRCA will not detract from his agency
’I’ll never compromise my day job and that’s understood,’ he says
’At the start of the day companies come first and everyone understands
Senior account executive, Welbeck (now Welbeck Golin/Harris)
Joint managing director, Countrywide Porter Novelli (London)
Managing director, Fleishman-Hillard UK and worldwide executive
vice-president and senior partner
Chairman elect, PRCA