Troubled telecoms equipment maker Marconi took steps to salvage its
battered public image this week with the appointment of David Beck to
its top comms post.
Beck, currently on notice as MD of Bell Pottinger's financial PR
operation, will join the former industrial behemoth in the next three
months, when a succession plan can be worked out at the Chime-owned City
He moves into the full-time comms director role after three months
heading the Marconi account team for Bell Pottinger, the agency drafted
in last autumn in place of incumbent Brunswick (PRWeek, 12 October
The firm was hired as part of a eview that saw fresh bankers appointed
shortly after CEO Mike Parton took control. A new chairman, Derek
Bonham, was appointed at the same time.
Parton, formerly a Marconi board director, replaced Lord Simpson as CEO
after he was forced to quit following the disastrous attempt to reinvent
what was once the pride of British manufacturing into a tech-savvy
This strategy left Marconi without its cash cow arms business - which it
sold off - but with a raft of unprofitable acquisitions, bought at the
top of the market in 1999, that left the company almost crippled with
Beck will report to Parton, and will take control of a staff of more
than 30. His remit includes overseeing the press office, external
affairs, internal comms, public affairs and financial PR. The financial
function retains control of IR - a crucial discipline given the decline
in Marconi's share price over the past year.
Marconi has been without a top-level in-house communicator since early
last year when Charlie Foreman moved out of PR into a wider sales
He has since left the company, leaving former Xerox EMEA PR chief Joe
Kelly as head of media relations.
Beck, who has been at Bell Pottinger or one of its predecessor firms for
more than 15 years, said: 'This is a broader role than I've filled to
date. The scale of the challenge is not in doubt. The task is nothing
less than to rebuild the company's credibility.'