Unilever recruits corporate and UK comms heads

LONDON - Unilever has beefed up its in-house PR team, recruiting corporate social responsibility and UK communications heads for the first time.

Patrick Kerr joined the FMCG giant this week as head of UK comms, overseeing all Unilever comms activities, except consumer PR for its brands.

This includes government and media relations, sponsorship, internal comms and online PR. Helen Lo, currently National Farmers’ Union head of marketing, will join next month in the CSR role, which carries the title head of UK social and environmental affairs.

The roles have been created following a review by UK public affairs and comms director Cliff Grantham, which started last year.

According to Kerr, who along with Lo reports to Grantham, the review highlighted the need to improve lobbying efforts, CSR, relations with NGOs and to increase coverage in the UK media.

Work already carried out this year by Unilever in the public affairs arena includes a recent submission to the House of Lords economic affairs committee, for its inquiry into globalisation. UK chairman Richard Greenhalgh spoke on the same issue at a recent Institute of Directors event.

Prior to joining Unilever Kerr had taken a career break following his redundancy from Finnish telecoms company Sonera Zed, where he was director of comms.

He has also worked for business body London First as its comms director and spent six years handling accounts at Burson-Marsteller, including a two-year spell in its Brussels office.

Unilever operates in 100 countries. Some of its best known brands include Persil and Ben & Jerry’s.

This week Unilever CEO Niall Fitzgerald revealed that the company is considering developing Unilever as an umbrella brand for individual products. Flagship product Persil for example, will become 'Persil from Unilever' under the proposals.

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