As a student at Thames Polytechnic reading, among other things,
Mills and Boon novels, Adrian Beeby spared little thought for media
’I spent a lot of time watching bad films and Australian soap operas,’
says Lloyd’s of London’s newly-appointed media relations manager. He’s
been compensating for his inactivity ever since.
’All that time sitting around left me wanting to make up for lost time,’
he says, and his career backs this up. From press officer at Lewisham
Council in London in 1994, via water companies association Water UK, he
is now working for one of the biggest and historically most
controversial institutions in the City, a huge player in the
international insurance market.
Beeby cut his PR teeth at Lewisham, organising stunts including a march
to protest against a cellphone operator which had made disparaging
references to Lewisham in its advertising. The advert was withdrawn and
the council got free advertising space from the operator and a healthy
dose of press interest.
In July 1997, in search of a bigger stage, he joined the Water Companies
Association as media relations head. The merger of the Water Companies
Association with the Water Services Association in 1998 provided Beeby
with the opportunity to up his responsibilities, and he was appointed
communications director for the new body, Water UK. ’I enjoyed being in
the media spotlight, but you have to be careful not to get into that too
much,’ he says.
’It was a bit like working with Tigger,’ says former colleague at Water
UK Miles Celic. ’He had a tremendous energy and endless good humour.
Working in his team, you’d be desperately trying to keep up with him.
Sometimes the enthusiasm could be irritating, but he was a very
supportive manager, and built a great team.’
’He had an innovative way of thinking,’ says Adrian Wardle, the man who
gave him a post in the education department at Lewisham Council. ’He was
a breath of fresh air, although some felt his passion for his work could
be galling. I didn’t think so when we worked together, but I did find
his later enthusiasm for water rather wearing.’
Beeby believes his experience of working in a highly-regulated industry
was one of the reasons Lloyd’s was keen to take him on, and so he made
his move from the national to the international stage.
He is big on teamwork, and big on training, too. ’In an organisation
this size,’ he says of Lloyd’s, with its 1,800 staff, 139 syndicates and
169 brokers, ’it’s vital everyone knows what everyone else is doing, and
knows how to recognise a potential news story as it starts. We don’t
want to find it’s turned round and hit us in the face a few months down
the line. Training helps avoid this, and makes people feel
His job at Lloyd’s in the coming months is to handle announcements about
the corporation’s updating of its technology to attract business. In
addition, he is charged with making Lloyd’s a more approachable,
attractive and comprehensible institution. ’People think
’Lloyd’s ... hmm. Names? They lost a lot of money in the early-1990s,
didn’t they?’ and they don’t know much else. You wouldn’t believe how
many people call us thinking we’re the bank.’
The appointment of a new chief executive, Nick Prettejohn, three months
ago has signalled a new dawn for Lloyd’s, Beeby says. ’There’s a shift
in emphasis from the problems of the past to looking ahead.’ Beeby’s job
was created when, keen to cut costs and improve co-ordination, the
corporation merged its marketing and communications departments in
Lloyd’s outgoing chief executive Ron Sandler warned as he left that
after three years of record profits, the corporation was likely to see
losses in 1998 and 1999 - because the market insures on a three-year
cycle, it takes three years to close the books.
The market relies on forecasts to communicate its financial health,
which makes Beeby’s job challenging - uncertainty hampers the
communication of messages to the media. And he is having to learn the
ropes virtually alone.
The merger of marketing and communications resulted in the departure of
both media relations manager Nick Doak and communications head Peter
Hill, who had been with Lloyd’s since 1983 and had steered it through
the financial scandals of the late-1980s and early-1990s. Hill’s advice
is still valued, and continues to work as a consultant to Lloyd’s.
Beeby is a big talker, and fully believes that there is as much to be
learned from five minutes talking to brokers as there is reading through
piles of documents. It is that sort of attitude that made Lloyd’s happy
to let him convey its message to the media.
Media relations head, Water Companies Association
Communications director, Water UK
Media relations manager, Lloyd’s of London