PROFILE: Mark Squires, Nokia UK - Brand evangelist to take Nokia forward - Corp comms head Mark Squires charts a 3G future for the mobile phone giant

There are very different qualities that can see an individual rise to senior comms positions. Some gain promotions through a consistent record of forging media links and placing stories, others can recite reputation management theory ad nauseam. Nokia UK head of corporate communications Mark Squires falls into a third category - the brand evangelist.

His enthusiasm for the products and services Nokia provides seems to be matched only by his unflinching belief in the corporate values of the company itself.

Any attempt to question the financial viability of the mobile phone market - which for all Nokia's other business ventures still generates the bulk of its income - is met with an unequivocal rebuttal. 'We work in a cyclical business,' he says of the drop in handset sales. He maintains that while handset sales may be falling, they are still huge and immensely profitable.

The future, though, lies in the introduction of 3G technology, regardless of the perceived current lack of interest in the products: 'It reminds me of the switch from analogue to digital phones,' he says. 'Then people couldn't see any reason for upgrading their phones. They don't know that they will want to upgrade to 3G yet, but they will when the services come.'

To this end, he subscribes to the widely-held view in the mobile phone industry that technical acronyms will not help 3G's introduction. 'The public will not react at all if we keep calling it 3G,' he warns. He suggests instead that the services will drive public interest in the same way as in other areas of new technology: 'You have to look at it in terms of how many consoles Sonic the Hedgehog sold. No-one buys a PlayStation 2 without games or a DVD player without DVDs.'

The bulk of the promotion, he suggests, will come free of charge: 'It will be promoted at pubs and bus stops by someone having bought a phone and saying "look at that". You can't get that sort of message over with expensive advertising. Pretty early on people will forget how good it is and it will just become normal.'

His enthusiasm for the company's products is perhaps indicative of his background in sales positions. Despite a CV that differs greatly from those of many comms professionals - the bulk of his career has been spent in engineering and sales - he seems to have adapted ably to the role since his switch from UK business development manager last June. There is no room for error, with a plethora of PR challenges affecting the industry.

One example is the determination of mobile networks to achieve branding superiority over the handset manufacturers. It does not, Squires diplomatically suggests, pose too many problems: 'Everyone wants to promote their own brand. The networks have a different challenge, though. Whereas people pay a one-off to buy the phone, they (the networks) present a bill to the client each month. It would take a lot of branding to make me like them despite that - we don't suffer from that problem.'

A further dimension to Squires' remit is to manage Nokia's internal communications and CSR work in the UK. He describes internal communications and keeping the firm's 2,200 UK staff interested in Nokia's affairs as his biggest challenge. Unusually, the firm's CSR strategy plays an integral part in this. He maintains that Nokia's work in the community is seldom promoted or branded, citing support for UK schools and teacher training where those involved 'never know it's Nokia backing it'.

He defends the fact that Nokia's CSR work is not used to the benefit of the Nokia brand by citing its use to the company itself: 'It's more to do with the staff being involved in something other than work. If you do CSR correctly then it's not done to benefit the company but the people involved.'

Public wariness of hollow corporate gestures is, he concedes, also behind the lack of promotion: 'Consumers are more intelligent these days. To do CSR so that the company can look wonderful is not a great reason.'

This pragmatic - even honest- approach to comms and his easy manner have contributed to his rise. Worldcom product director of mobile IP services Mike Cole, who has worked closely with Squires on providing internet to mobile phones, believes Squires' status within the mobile industry has stood him in good stead: 'I doubt if there are many people in the mobile phone and associated industries who do not know Mark, through his knowledge of the business or his very approachable manner.'

Given Squires' proficiency at extolling Nokia's virtues, that he and his brand are so well known comes as little surprise.

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