Flack on Friday: #EdelmanChallengeDay, vicious Byrne, Salisbury star, time to rebrand the account handler?

In Flack this week: #EdelmanChallengeDay, vicious burn from Byrne, a Salisbury star, time to rebrand the account handler?


No self-respecting PR agency in 2018 can consider itself kosher without an annual charity day, it seems. Flack commends Edelman, which yesterday got all 500 of its staff downing tools and venturing out of the office to support a range of charities.

The charity Media Trust helped bring the Edelman staff to a total of 13 organisations including Sickle Cell and Young Stroke Survivors, whose volunteers for the day included Edelman UK CEO Ed Williams (pictured above, as well as Prisoners Abroad, Hey Girls and the Wales Air Ambulance, which decamped to London to work with a team including corporate affairs general manager Hugh Taggart.

Other charities were lined up by the organisation Hands on London, which included the Work and Scrap Playstore in Tooting, whose volunteers for the day included the agency's health lead Kate Hawker, and an Age UK centre in Bermondsey who welcomed corporate reputation MD Rachel Bower.

The charity day replaces a more conventional all-staff meeting that Edelman UK used to hold twice a year in spring and autumn, Flack hears. Never mind all the charities, Flack salutes any agency willing to cut down on meetings.

Vicious Byrne

If your Twitter feed is lacking a bit of spice, Flack can think of no better way to inject some no-holds-barred, expletive-laden hot takes into it than by following former Weber Shandwick boss Colin Byrne, who since his departure from the agency has been fast-tracking himself to 'grumpy old man' status, with entertaining consequences.

"One of the great things about not working in PR any more is being able to say what you really think about media and politics without caring about upsetting some twat your client might need," he begins one of his recent tweets. You'll have to visit his Twitter feed to work out which individual (or "entitled c***", in Byrne's words) he was referring to...

Earlier this month, Flack had been a guest at Byrne's leaving do, where equally shocking revelations were made, including his defection from Labour to a rival political party, and a comparison between - bear with us - boutique agencies' client servicing, and bedwetting.

Salisbury stars at GCS launch

Last week's launch of the annual Government Communications Plan at the National Cyber Security Centre in Victoria involved more government directors of communications than one could wave a stick at. After an entertaining introductory speech by Government Communication Service executive director Alex Aiken, it was the turn of others to take the stand.

Downing Street digital comms chief Chris Hamilton told the room he relished the fact that his picture had not made it into this year’s plan, which sets out the government’s comms and campaign priorities for 2018/19.

But it was Laurie Bell, director of comms at Wiltshire County Council – scene of the infamous nerve agent attack in Salisbury – whose speech proved to be the star turn. Bell explained to the room how the attack had impacted the council’s relatively small comms team, admitting that, pre-attack, the biggest thing in her inbox had been the contentious Stonehenge road tunnel. What a difference a day makes...

Bon Jovial

Flack enjoyed the Aldi marketing team's attempt at the noble art of shoehorning song lyrics into a social media post this week:

However, it still has some way to go to reach the pinnacle of this rather niche genre:

A(c)counter argument

Joe Walton, Weber Shandwick's UK tech lead was one of several commentators on the tech portion of PRWeek's Top 150 table, and was asked about P&G brand chief Marc Pritchard's comments earlier this year about his desire for agencies to provide more creativity and less account management.

Comments Walton: "Clients are absolutely willing to pay for the services of a project manager that is constantly on the pulse of the project and making sure every deadline is met, or for an account director that is constantly providing external perspective on their day-to-day problems."

Nonetheless, he goes on to say: "I do agree that clients aren’t willing to invest in a big bucket of random activity called 'Account Management'. That is a nomenclature problem, not a reflection of the value account handlers can bring."

Time for a rebrand, and perhaps a change of name, for the plucky account handler?

Alas, a lack of Flack

Flack has been on holiday for a couple of weeks, as readers in their droves have (presumably) noticed and, it must be assumed, bitterly lamented.

The Romans co-founder Joe Sinclair spotted a career opportunity for himself in this hiatus - but Flack joins Rich Leigh in being a little concerned about him...

Joe, Rich, and PRs everywhere; fear not, Flack is BACK.

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