News that both Brunswick and Bell Pottinger, two of the most
high-profile names in the PR industry, have hired their own marketing
managers raises tantalising hopes of a new level of public debate about
PR and corporate communications.
They are not the first to go down this line. Edelman and Weber Shandwick
have had marketing managers for years - and it is not clear how far the
marketing role will also encompass proactive public relations. But for
Brunswick in particular, this move is little short of a revolution, the
consultancy having built its reputation almost entirely upon the policy
of non-attributable briefings.
Alan Parker's decision is prompted primarily by a desire to expand the
brand's presence overseas, but hopefully this will not preclude a higher
profile for Parker himself in the UK.
The media's sustained wilful misrepresentation of the PR industry is not
helped by the tardiness of the PR industry in fielding high-profile
thought leaders to counter the all too common misconceptions about
The industry needs more high-profile champions, who can illustrate the
role that corporate communications advisers play in the fortunes of some
of the world's leading brands.
Lord Bell has already captured the media imaginaion but, such is the
mystique that surrounds Parker, if he were to make a radical move and
decide to go on the record to the media, the inevitable interest would
provide a valuable window of opportunity for the PR industry.