UKGI seeks PR support amid concerns over increased media scrutiny in 2018

Concerns over growing media scrutiny have played a part in a decision by UK Government Investments (UKGI), the body that manages the sale of publicly owned assets, to boost its spending on PR significantly.

The contract arrangements around Hinkley Point C nuclear plant were developed by UKGI
The contract arrangements around Hinkley Point C nuclear plant were developed by UKGI
Owned by the Treasury, UKGI plans to spend up to half a million pounds on PR in a new contract set to start in May this year. 

UKGI’s work can be highly contentious, such as its involvement in the privatisation of Royal Mail, selling off the Government’s shares in Lloyds Banking Group and management of the Government’s stake in the Royal Bank of Scotland.

A procurement notice published by the Crown Commercial Service earlier this month states that UKGI "is putting in place a single supplier framework agreement for a Supplier to act as its Public Relations / Press Office function to enhance and protect its public profile".

In addition to providing financial PR expertise, the supplier will be tasked with "regular business as usual tasks" such as media comms. It "will also have the opportunity to provide support to UKGI in its adhoc activities advising the Government on large transactions and asset disposals."

The UKGI does not have the "capacity" to handle its external affairs, with only a small in-house team of two people, according to tender documentation. 

It is "independent of Government and therefore part of the responsibilities of the successful Supplier will be to maintain and earn that independence in the eyes of the media, general public and parliamentarians".

The widening remit of the UKGI, which will see it become responsible for government shares in RBS from March, "is likely to generate significant amounts of media interest and work", according to tender documents.

The successful bidder will be expected to come up with a comms strategy to ensure an understanding of the UKGI’s "corporate narrative" as well as creating "interest in and excitement around asset disposals" and safeguarding its reputation.

The strategy will need to position UKGI as "the Government centre of excellence in corporate finance and governance" and engage with the media "to enhance and protect the reputation and public profile of the Authority", states a tender document outlining the service required.

Target audiences include investors, trade associations, MPs and peers, government departments and agencies.

During the first year of the contract, the successful agency will need to generate an increase of 20 per cent in the number of mentions of UKGI in the media. 

Other key performance indicators will include keeping a running total of "the potential number of negative articles about the Authority or its assets kept out of the media by the Supplier" and that 60 per cent of all articles that focus on UKGI should be positive or neutral.

UKGI’s incumbent agency, Citigate Dewe Rogerson, is understood to be one of a number of PR firms bidding for the new contract.

The agency’s current contract with UKGI, worth £100,000, began in July 2017 and runs until the end of June. 

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