Year in review: 2011 Money and morals

As another year draws to a close, PRWeek takes a look back at the biggest comms stories of 2011 and awards Golden Baubles to those who provided some light relief. Kate Magee reports.

NOTW closes in 2011
NOTW closes in 2011


- Andy Coulson resigns as the Prime Minister's comms director, following a new wave of allegations about illegal phone hacking at the News of the World while he was editor.

- The Number 10 and Cabinet Office comms units are merged.

- Sky Sports presenter Andy Gray is sacked and Richard Keys resigns after a video of them making sexist off-mic comments about a female assistant referee is leaked to the Mail on Sunday.

- Former Maitland Consultancy partner Colin Browne provides PR support to the inquiry into the controversial four-day closure of Heathrow Airport in December 2010 due to snowfall.

- Sainsbury's overhauls its consumer PR roster with the appointment of Blue Rubicon, Phipps PR and Taylor Herring.

- Edelman promotes Robert Phillips to EMEA president and CEO. Hill & Knowlton's global CEO Paul Taaffe resigns following the merger with US public affairs shop Public Strategies.


- Modus Publicity comes under fire for its use of unpaid interns after a BBC documentary on social mobility is aired.

- Travel comms specialists including Hills Balfour's sister agency HB Portfolio and Rooster deal with the fallout from the political turmoil in holiday destinations Egypt and Tunisia.

- The Business Finance Taskforce, comprising six major banks, hires Portland to help win back the trust of small businesses following the financial crisis. By November, funding for the campaign is cut as banks focus on their individual comms efforts.

- The head of BBC Global News Craig Oliver is appointed as Downing Street's director of comms, replacing Andy Coulson.

- Global athletics brand Asics appoints Pitch PR for London 2012 Olympics comms drive, pledging a tenfold increase in marketing spend in the run-up to the event. Meanwhile BP seeks an agency to promote its Olympic partnerships.


- Scrutiny over the PR industry's dealings with foreign dictatorships intensifies as a number of agencies are approached by Libyan officials to handle the country's PR.

- The Really Ethical PR Agency protests outside the offices of Brown Lloyd James, which has worked for Colonel Gaddafi, and Bell Pottinger, which works with the Bahrain government.

- The Association for Financial Markets in Europe, the body that lobbies governments and institutions across Europe on behalf of the banking industry, hires Hanover to help fight its corner.

- Lloyds Banking Group hires Santander's former comms director Matthew Young, which triggers the resignation of group comms director Brigitte Trafford.

- Taylor Herring launches breast milk ice cream for client The Icecreamists.

- British Airways selects Grayling to lead the airline's restructured global comms operation.

- The BBC's longstanding chief spokesman Donald Steel leaves the broadcaster to launch his own PR agency. Andy Coulson also establishes a media consultancy.

- The COI's CEO Mark Lund resigns. Plans to replace the body with a 'Government Communications Centre' receive a mixed response.

- PRWeek announces it will no longer accept AVEs as a method of measurement in its awards.

- The ballot for London 2012 Olympic Games tickets is opened.


- Prince William marries Kate Middleton. The wedding is watched by an estimated two billion people worldwide.

- Mark Borkowski severs all ties with his own agency after becoming disillusioned with the traditional consultancy model. Borkowski PR rebrands as Beige, while Borkowksi sets up

- The BBC announces it will abolish six senior comms roles as part of a programme to make 25 per cent cuts. Amid the cuts, a wave of senior BBC journalists move into PR, including Andy Tighe, who joins the Home Office as head of news, and Nils Blythe, who becomes interim comms head at the Bank of England.

- Bell Pottinger's controversial work for the Economic Development Board of Bahrain is suspended as violent uprisings break out in the country. Sister agency Good Relations wins Subway and the European account for Research in Motion.

- BBC broadcaster Andrew Marr voluntarily admits to using a super-injunction as the debate over privacy and the role of social media ramps up.


- The White House releases dramatic photos of President Obama and Hillary Clinton watching Osama bin Laden being shot dead by US commandos.

- Several newspapers break a super-injunction naming a famous footballer who allegedly had an extra-marital affair with model Imogen Thomas.

- PRWeek's Top 150 Consultancies 2011 report reveals the PR industry has bounced back from the recession with a growth rate of nearly ten per cent in 2010.

- News emerges that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is considering borrowing press officers from Whitehall's comms units to man an Olympics press office in 2012.

- Nokia hires a consortium of Next Fifteen agencies to handle its global PR work, and is also thought to be using Freud Communications for a significant project brief.

- The first BBC staff relocate to Media City in Salford.

- City PR stalwart James Bradley quits Tulchan Communications for Finsbury.


- Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca puts retained City agency Brunswick on alert. It appoints Finsbury in July.

- The world's largest private equity group Blackstone drafts in Finsbury to fight media headlines blaming it for the crisis at care homes operator Southern Cross Healthcare.

- Following the hacking attack on Sony's PlayStation Network, the company appoints Shine Communications.

- Bell Pottinger provides informal support to the National Transitional Council, a group of anti-Gaddafi rebels in Libya.

- GolinHarris starts a global restructure, creating four teams around specialist skills - strategists, creators, catalysts and connectors.

- Downing Street promotes senior Whitehall PRO Emily Tofield to communicate public sector cuts and the Big Society.

- Twitter hires its first European comms manager, former Spark PR European MD Rachel Bremer.

- London 2012 Olympic Games tickets are allocated. Millions lose out, causing a furore.


- The News of the World is closed. A number of NotW journalists approach PR agencies for jobs. Two of News International's most senior executives, Simon Greenberg and Will Lewis, leave the newspaper group to work on News Corporation's 'hackgate' clean-up project.

- The Department of Health's top communicator Sian Jarvis resigns as the department undergoes a restructure. She later joins Asda to oversee its PR and public affairs.

- PRWeek's 2010 Consultancy of the Year Mischief PR is sold to Engine Group for a mix of cash and equity.

- After a long trawl, Edelman hires the BBC's director of comms Ed Williams to be its UK CEO.

- The former chief medical officer for England, Sir Liam Donaldson, agrees to advise global lobbying firm APCO Worldwide on a range of healthcare clients including Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer.

- The Huffington Post launches in UK.

- A right-wing extremist massacres 77 people in Norway.

- Singer Amy Winehouse dies, aged 27.


- Tesco bolsters its PR and lobbying capability by hiring the Olympic Delivery Authority's media head Tom Curry as UK comms director, and Victoria Gould, Tony Blair's head of events and visits, as government affairs manager, as the Government conducts a review into the future of the high street.

- Riots, mainly by young people, flare up around the country. Shops including Poundland, JD Sports and Currys are looted. Brands such as BlackBerry and Nike find themselves linked to the chaos. Politicians are criticised for not returning from holiday sooner.

- Mobile phone giant Everything Everywhere is in final talks with GolinHarris and Weber Shandwick as it prepares to hand out a big chunk of its £1m PR brief.

- The globe's second largest alcohol brewer, SABMiller, kicks off a major corporate pitch process after splitting with Brunswick.


- England captain Mike Tindall's off-the-field behaviour causes controversy during the Rugby World Cup.

- Boots drops retained agency Lexis and hands the £1m brief to The Red Consultancy. The move triggers the most significant case of the TUPE ruling in the PR industry since it became law in 2006, as Lexis asks eight members of staff to transfer to Red.

- A month after the riots, Adidas hires John Doe to boost its fashion and lifestyle credentials.

- TalkTalk awards a six-figure brief to Good Relations and Pelham Bell Pottinger.

- The Government sets up a specialist 'partnerships unit' in the Cabinet Office to improve comms with businesses, paving the way for new marketing and PR tie-ups.

- Seventy Seven PR's three managing partners leave to start new projects. Alan Twigg sets up his own consultancy, called The Light Brigade. James Gordon-MacIntosh and Jo Carr set up consumer shop Hope & Glory, backed by corporate and financial agency Lansons Communications.


- Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, dies after a long illness.

- Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is killed.

- PRWeek and the PRCA launch a campaign to end the practice of unpaid internships, backed by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

- The PRCA and the CIPR go head-to-head in their bid to represent the UK's PR professionals, as the PRCA launches individual membership.

- The lobbying industry is criticised after Defence Secretary Liam Fox resigns over allegations he gave close friend and lobbyist Adam Werritty access to the MoD and took him on foreign trips.

- Private equity firm Vitruvian Partners takes a small majority stake in College Group, which includes City PR agency College Hill.

- The Department of Health puts a £85,000 per month PR brief up for grabs, which covers major comms programmes - Smokefree/Tobacco Control, the Change4Life obesity campaign, Older People and Younger People.

- Lynne Franks returns to PR as comms director for international fundraising event organiser Fashion Rocks.

- Fast-food giant Burger King hunts for a PR agency after parting ways with six-year incumbent Cow PR.

- Occupy London protest starts outside St Paul's Cathedral.


- The Leveson Inquiry begins, examining the culture, practices and ethics of the media.

- Flagship UK marcoms groups Huntsworth and Chime report damaging client fee cancellations during the past month, with the former explicitly blaming 'global economic uncertainty'.

- Santander searches for a PR agency to help it become a more integral part of corporate Britain. Meanwhile, HSBC looks for an agency as it plans to set up a new online platform for customers' non-financial needs.

- Umbro hunts for a consumer PR agency to help cement it as the UK's top football kit brand.

- TripAdvisor hires Edelman to handle its UK comms, as it continues to face scrutiny about the credibility of its reviews.

- Andrew Gowers, the former Financial Times editor, joins investment banking trade body Association for Financial Markets in Europe, as a comms consultant on a three-month contract.

- The Daily Telegraph's public policy editor Andrew Porter quits journalism to join Brunswick.


- PRCA wins a £1m government contract to run the industry's soon-to-be-launched apprenticeship scheme.

- TUI's comms director Christian Cull leaves the holiday company suddenly.

- An undercover investigation published in The Independent reports that Bell Pottinger has been caught boasting about its access to government and its use of dark arts to bury bad coverage.

- Hill+Knowlton Strategies Europe chairman and CEO Sally Costerton leaves the agency after 12 years.


The Golden Baubles Awards 2011

UNFORTUNATE SITE SIMILARITIES AWARD = PR agency = a company that provides 'discreet pleasure parties'


Burson-Marsteller moved into the same office as Google after running a botched 'smear' campaign against it in the US


BBC's Paul Mylrea sent custard creams to Sunday Express' David Stephenson in response to an article about the broadcaster's flamboyant spending on biscuits


Vero Communications for getting booed at the CIPR Excellence Awards for its campaign for Qatar's successful 2022 World Cup bid


PM David Cameron allows the riots to go on for three days, and holds a photocall with a waitress, before returning from holiday


Lacoste, which wrote to Norwegian police to prevent mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik from wearing its clothes in court


Qantas CEO Alan Joyce who grounded his company's planes during an industrial dispute leaving thousands of travellers stranded across the world


Unity co-founders Nik Done and Gerry Hopkinson rescued chairs from a skip for their office


Tesco, for launching a £500m PR and ad campaign announcing a price drop, only for it to emerge that shoppers were paying more

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