Orange Order to run pitch for first retained PR work

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland is staging a pitch for PR support to help improve its global image.

A number of agencies are understood to be involved in the beauty parade, which is the first time the lodge has sought retained PR advice.

The Lodge hired Northern Irish agency Reputation Matters last year on a project brief covering the post-Easter season of Orange Order parades.

But the body is now looking to hire a PR firm with international capabilities to communicate the organisation's messages in the long term.

Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland CEO George Patton said: 'We are very conscious of the fact we don't have a particularly good image. We are trying to remove some of the stereotypical perceptions people have.'

He added: 'The brief will also be about education. Most people come across the Orange Order through our parades, but there's an awful lot more to it than that.'

The lodge has so far compiled a pitch shortlist and has started viewing agency credentials with a view to making an announcement 'in the near future', according to Patton.

The Orange Order, a Protestant organisation that dates back to the 18th century, was instrumental in forming the Ulster Unionist Council - forerunner of the Ulster Unionist Party - in 1905.

It runs parades in Ulster every year, despite opposition from the mainly Catholic nationalist community.

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