Profile: Ceri Evans, Golin/Harris Ludgate - Evans set challenge to revive Ludgate PA - Former Norris PR man denies it's the last 'throw of dice' for lobbying outfit

Ceri Evans has trouble sitting still or keeping to a single point - and that's before he has consumed two cups of coffee in 30 minutes.

Ceri Evans has trouble sitting still or keeping to a single point - and that's before he has consumed two cups of coffee in 30 minutes.

He has just been appointed as managing director of Golin/Harris Ludgate's public affairs division, which - to put it euphemistically - has been through something of a rough patch lately, following the departure of Stephen Lock, whom Evans replaces, deputy MD Richard Elsen and others.

There's no doubt Ludgate is lucky to have him on board. His CV is impressive: most recently he was campaign director for Steve Norris' successful (if not actually victorious) bid for London mayor. He has also worked for William Hague on media briefing and message development, and as a communications adviser to Channel 4, which suggests that he likes a challenge.

Put it to him that he likes to champion an underdog, and he seems for the slightest (and rarest) moment to be stumped for words. Phrasing it carefully, he says: 'What is exciting is when people have a real requirement for your skills, and you feel you can make a difference.

'It doesn't mean to say things have been as easy as they might have been at Ludgate, but you can't underestimate the power of a brand,' he continues.

However, he thinks the assessment of Ludgate's situation by this journal to have been harsh. 'It's not one last throw of the dice by any means,' he says of his employer. 'I wouldn't have taken it on if it was.'

To be fair, it has to be assumed that Evans had his pick of jobs after the mayoral elections wrapped up in May, but discretion at the fore, he will only say 'I was lucky'.

When asked 'can Evans run a business', Norris says: 'I would have said yes. He's not someone who has run a business before, but he can certainly run a team.' Ironically, with Norris working at Citigate Public Affairs, technically the two are now rivals.

The first priority at Ludgate, says Evans, is looking after existing clients. He claims he doesn't know of a single retained client who has left following the departure of Lock et al, but nonetheless, it will be his first focus, and even before he's officially started Evans is meeting the clients.

But Evans bristles slightly at the suggestion he will be 'lobbying for big business'. 'Public affairs has changed - Greer's demise ensured that,' says Evans. He talks of living in an age of stakeholder not shareholder relations, and believes that as the stakeholder culture becomes a fact of life, the campaigning and message development required by organisations will become even more challenging.

Evans claims he's not a political animal. But could this possibly be true of someone who admits that he once wore a 'Keep the Falklands British' T-shirt to a student gathering while reading drama at Bristol University?

In fact, every question - personal or otherwise - seems to lead back to the issue of politics in some way. 'Either everything is political, or nothing is political, there's no middle ground,' he says.

Evans is married with two children, aged 13 and three, and lives in London.

The 39-year-old was born and raised in Swansea, but has lost any trace of a Welsh accent.

He started at the University of Bristol in 1979, 'just after Margaret Thatcher was elected, and just before Reagan got in power,' he says. Referring to the Falklands T-shirt incident, 'which certainly showed me who my friends are', he pauses when asked if he wore the shirt merely to be annoying. 'I was presenting the alternative view,' he offers, before admitting it may have been out of bloody-mindedness.

He's not actually a member of the Conservative Party, but his history with the Tories also includes stints working with John Major and Brian Mawhinney. Although his highest profile roles have been in or around politics, Evans points out that during his working life, only two years have been spent in the political arena. It would be easy to forget that this is a man who has came up with the Big Breakfast's Johnny and Denise 'are they or aren't they' publicity campaign when the duo first teamed.

But with all this talk about politics, any suggestion that he may soon return to this world is strongly refuted. Is he in for the long run at Ludgate? 'You bet,' is his emphatic response.

His last 'client', Norris, says he chose Evans as his chief-of-staff because: 'He's the best communicator that I know. He's terrifically clear-thinking, focused and loyal.' It's a bit of a mutual admiration club, with Evans saying Norris' success was down to the man himself.

But what can his new clients expect? No doubt they will find Evans talkative, intelligent and focused. And if they have a huge communications challenge on their hands, they will probably find their champion.


1994 Network producer, BBC

1996 Creative director, Channel 4

1999 Chief-of-staff, Steve Norris mayoral campaign

2000 Head of public affairs, Golin/Harris Ludgate.

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