PROFILE: Lisa Bond, Universal Music International - Bond gets new beat with Universal Music. Lisa Bond aims to raise PR's profile at the world's biggest music company

With a picture of Boyzone's Ronan Keating in pride of place on her office wall, Lisa Bond pronounces herself more at home in her second week as vice-president of communications for Universal Music International than she felt after 14 months as head of media relations for the Retail Financial Services division of Barclays.

With a picture of Boyzone's Ronan Keating in pride of place on her office wall, Lisa Bond pronounces herself more at home in her second week as vice-president of communications for Universal Music International than she felt after 14 months as head of media relations for the Retail Financial Services division of Barclays.

'I was approached by a headhunter in the summer and, although I was not actively looking for a change, I had come to the decision that the financial services were not really for me.'

Having spent four years with the cut and thrust of Camelot, including the months before the launch of the National Lottery and the company's fat cats saga, she felt frustrated that she could not use her PR expertise on the two big news icebergs which smashed into Barclays recently - ATM charges and branch closures.

'Like the other big four banks, Barclays is a huge organisation with 60,000 people, so it is very bureaucratic and getting quick decisions is a real problem. One of the things I found a bit frustrating was that this was one of the best-known brands in Britain, possibly in Europe, and a consumer-focused brand needs to focus on more than just the financial media,' she says.

The bankers ignored advice from PR colleagues to start putting their case early to consumer affairs writers. They were then shocked to find the branch closure story on the news and opinion pages rather than their natural environment, the finance pages.

Despite its own share of controversies, Bond says Camelot had and has a lot more savvy. She is almost misty-eyed as she speaks of the 'passionate, committed' team who introduced the lottery and saw it swiftly grow into 'the most successful lottery in the world'.

Bond has looked on approvingly as the company has mounted an aggressive PR and legal fightback against its exclusion from negotiations for the next lottery licence. She believes that on top of its recent High Court victory, the company has also won the PR war: 'They are fighting for their lives and they are not the sort to give up easily.'

Bond was working for the Rowland Company, which had Camelot's account, ahead of the launch, handling media relations. Soon after its launch in late 1994, Camelot decided to take the function in-house and Bond was asked to head the new team. 'We were right in the thick of the media action which is exactly what I wanted,' she says.

John Kinsey, who was Camelot marketing director at the time, says she was an enormous asset for the company: 'She's bright, charming and she gets things done. She's also quite creative.'

Situated just a guitar's throw from Prince Charles' home at St James's Palace, Universal's British and European HQ seems a long way from her media-hounded former employers. Nowadays any controversy or media scandals Bond is involved with are more likely to involve American rapper Eminem than British institutions.

'The labels tend to do their own thing in terms of promoting the artists, but Universal as the parent company needs a lot more synergy in terms of what it does and what the American company does. My role is to make sure that their (the labels') PR is consistent with Universal's.'

Although many of the company's record labels (for example, Polygram, Polydor and MCA) are instantly recognisable to music fans, Universal's status as the world's biggest music company does not, so far, have a PR profile to match. Although she says the company needs some 'direction' on dealing with the sort of controversy generated by Eminem, Bond will not be seeking to centralise the record labels' PR activities.

'I will be looking at ways of protecting the good name of Universal but I am not actively looking to get involved in each case - if it wants to bring me in on one then fine.'

Priorities will include developing an internal communications strategy (the company has staff in 40 European countries) and exploiting the news potential of the company's increasing use of the internet and e-commerce.

The latter is something of a sensitive subject in the industry at present with high-profile court cases against firms which have been offering fans the chance to download music straight from the internet. Bond points out that the cases have been brought by the industry rather than individual firms, but is quick to emphasise that such organisations are ripping off the artist as well as the record companies.

'We are about music for the masses, we are not against the technology, but they did not consult with the artists or the record companies.'

With another media storm brewing, it looks like Bond's crisis management experience at Barclays and Camelot could come in very handy.



HIGHLIGHTS

1994 Senior press officer, The Rowland Company

1995 Head of PR Camelot

1999 Head of media relations Barclays retail financial services

2000 VP communications Universal Music International.



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