BP's comms plan hit as Maitland's George Trefgarne turns down global role

BP's efforts to revamp its PR operation have been dealt a blow by the decision of Maitland's George Trefgarne to pull out of taking a global comms role at the firm.

Post-crisis comms: BP is attempting to rebuild its reputation
Post-crisis comms: BP is attempting to rebuild its reputation

Trefgarne had been expected to become BP’s director of external affairs in the spring, but PRWeek has learned that Trefgarne has decided against taking the role.

Trefgarne confirmed he would now be staying at City PR firm Maitland, where he is a partner, but declined to provide additional comment.

PRWeek revealed in January that Trefgarne had agreed to take up a global role at the oil giant to attempt to strengthen BP’s relationship with key media and political stakeholders and opinion formers.

The firm is understood to have seen Trefgarne’s role as a key plank in its attempts to rehabilitate its political and public reputation after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. However, following Trefgarne’s decision to remain at Maitland, it is not thought BP will look for a new candidate.

It is believed Trefgarne has decided his future is better served remaining at Maitland and working alongside global investment management firms Henderson and Mann Group.

However, the decision is also thought to have been influenced by the level of instability in the BP comms function. Andrew Gowers, BP’s head of media during Deepwater Horizon, left in November 2010 and Roddy Kennedy, the firm’s longstanding media head, retired before the crisis only to temporarily return to advise BP through the crisis. Following the disaster, BP also created an overarching comms role, eventually employing BG Group’s head of government affairs Peter Henshaw.

Last week, it emerged BP had appointed Ben Crowther, head of corporate comms and financial PR at Sainsbury’s, to be global brand manager for fuels.

Meanwhile, Maitland associate partner Richard Farnsworth is joining global brewer SABMiller as a business media relations manager.

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