City & Corporate: City PR attracts more journalists

Moves - Top financial journalists continue to leave the industry for jobs in City PR agencies.

Another two senior financial journalists have been lured to City PR, adding to a steady stream quitting the profession.

Grant Clelland, editor of Financial News, has accepted a role as director in Edelman's newly combined corporate and financial business.

He was responsible for all editorial products at the Dow Jones-owned brand, leading a 35-strong editorial team in London and the US.

Clelland had been at Financial News for five years and was previously associate editor at The Business and business editor at the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. He has also worked on Newsnight, Business Breakfast and Working Lunch at the BBC.

News of Clelland emerges days after Jenny Davey, deputy City editor at the Sunday Times, was named as an associate partner at Finsbury. She left her role at News International in the first week of July, but will not take up her new post until March 2011 after a period of maternity leave.

The moves follow Nick Hasell, previously The Times' Tempus column editor, joining FD as an MD in its financial comms practice last month and Sunday Times business editor John Waples moving as an MD to the same agency earlier this year. Also this week, Simon Evans, former deputy business editor at The Independent on Sunday, started at Weber Shandwick as head of business media.

Speaking to PRWeek in an exclusive interview on 2 July, Waples noted: 'You get a sense in newspapers that you're working for an industry in decline. PR is a growth industry, so why spend the last ten to 15 years of your career managing decline when you could be managing growth?'

He also pointed out the 'fundamentally wrong' gulf in pay driving senior journalists into comms consultancies.

It is a trend of which some City bosses are wary, with one pointing to the 'hugely different' skills-set between journalism and comms and doubting many journalists would embrace the commercial elements of the role.

Another agency boss said: 'Journalism is a helpful, but insufficient condition for being good at PR. Both have low barriers to entry, but it is not easy to be good at either.'

But Geoffrey Pelham Lane, FD's UK CEO, argued that hiring senior journalists could bring important skills to an agency. He said: 'A strategic comms consultancy needs a wide variety of experience and expertise, so recruitment policy needs to look across the whole breadth of sectors - from banking, corporate or consultancy backgrounds to those working in journalism.'


Geoffrey Pelham Lane, UK CEO, FD

We are not seeing a blanket move of print journalists to comms consultancies. There has always been the opportunity for people to cross over where they have the expertise that might fit with what clients are looking for. Whether a journalist is a good fit comes down to the areas of expertise a consultancy needs and what clients may need going forward.

- Alex Bigg, MD corporate & financial, Edelman

We have found that hiring the right journalists can really bring added value to our clients and our business. They give insights and advice about how issues, whether they be financial or corporate, play out in the media and, as Edelman is focusing increasingly on the development of compelling client content, the skills that ex-journalists bring are critical.

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