Tony Blair's former advisers launch Hillingdon Cresswell to target Middle East

Consultancy launch comes as Qatar Foundation embarks on multi-million pound pitch.

Consultancy launch: Chris McShane and Ghalia Alul
Consultancy launch: Chris McShane and Ghalia Alul

A trio of former advisers to Tony Blair are throwing their weight behind a new comms consultancy that will target governments and other large organisations in the Arab world.

Hillingdon Cresswell is being set up by Chris McShane, a former long-serving comms adviser to Blair, and Ghalia Alul, until recently director of comms for the government of Jordan.

On board as associates are John McTernan, who served as Blair's director of political operations, and Tanya Joseph, who served as a senior press adviser to the former PM in Downing Street. A further six associates from the Middle East and North America are also signed up.

The new agency will be headquartered in Oman, but will also have a base in London. McShane told PRWeek it would focus on helping organisations in the Arab world establish their own home-grown comms capacity. He said: 'The current model of comms is unsustainable in this changing political climate - particularly in the Middle East.'

Alul said: 'Times are changing fast for governments in the Middle East. Countries need to embrace new and convincing ways of communicating with their people, or have that change forced upon them. Governments need to build their own internal capacity to sustain a consistent dialogue with their people.'

The news comes as a massive state-funded charitable organisation in the Middle East launches a multi-million pound pitch process to appoint three global agencies.

As revealed on (26 April), The Qatar Foundation, which currently uses Bell Pottinger, has put three major PR briefs out to pitch. The foundation is a state-run organisation that funds numerous universities, research institutes and community development projects in Qatar.


Chris McShane was comms adviser to Blair for more than seven years. He recently established media monitoring firm NewsFirst

Tanya Joseph spent four years in No 10 as a press adviser to Blair. She went on to work for Grayling and The Communications Group

John McTernan was director of political operations under Blair. He is now a columnist for The Daily Telegraph.

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