DIARY: Tardy release on PR hires means caution over Alcatel merger

News reports this week said that a proposed merger between French

telecoms and internet technology giant Alcatel and rival equipment maker

Lucent Technologies had collapsed.

For now, the company is refusing to comment on what it terms industry

'rumours'. Judging by the speed - or lack of it - with which it

announced the appointment of its latest PR head, Alcatel can be expected

to comment on any takeover intentions early next year.

Kathleen Merrill issued a news release last week announcing that she had

taken over as senior comms director for the UK and Europe. This was a

precis of the situation as it stood last October (eight months ago),

before Merrill went on a hiring spree to boost Alcatel's UK PR arm.

External agencies Burson-Marsteller and Johnson King are still retained

- no pitch imminent, sadly - but four PR managers have been hired in the

interim, for trade PR, internal communciations, media relations and

corporate comms.

'We didn't plan to leave it so long,' admits one of the hires. 'The

focus was on getting it right internally before making any public

statement about the PR team.' Expect comment on a Lucent deal next year,


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