PUBLIC SECT0R: Citigate hired in Met Office shake-up

The Met Office is stepping up promotion of its business services following a shake-up of external PR support.

For the first time one agency has been hired to handle both private and public sector B2B and corporate work, with Citigate Communications appointed to the brief.

Met Office brand and comms head Kate Smith said it was vital to raise the Met Office's profile among businesses, particularly retailers: 'We need a clear message sent out to retail firms that by using our weather service it will help them to better plan months ahead.'

The agency's work will also include assisting in developing partnerships with overseas meteorological bodies, particularly in Europe.

It will also assist in promoting its work with Government customers, including the work of its Hadley Centre, into the affects of global climate change on the UK, on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The appointment of Citigate follows a six-way pitch. It is understood that 22 firms approached the Met Office regarding the brief. This was previously split in two with three-year incumbents Prowse & Co overseeing public sector work and two-year incumbent QBO handling a private sector brief.

The appointment follows a shake up of the in-house communications team, which has been merged into the marketing function, headed by marketing director Jonathan Hearth, who Smith reports to.

The four-strong press office is headed by senior press officer Andy Yeatman.

The Citigate team is lead by director Andy Matthews and account director Rob Belvin.

Since 1996 the Met Office has been a Government trading fund owned by the Ministry of Defence and with a profit-making remit. The organisation is to be relocated next year to a new £150m complex in Exeter from its current base in Bracknell.

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