TikTok chooses agencies for six-figure policy and public affairs briefs

Social-media platform TikTok has appointed Headland and Stonehaven to provide policy comms and public affairs functions, respectively, PRWeek has learned.

TikTok has appointed two agencies in the UK to help navigate its corporate and political challenges
TikTok has appointed two agencies in the UK to help navigate its corporate and political challenges

Headland was appointed earlier this year to carry out consumer work on a project basis, but this has since been widened to corporate comms, including policy, as part of the brief.

The agency will provide comms on legislative announcements, while Stonehaven will carry out traditional public affairs and parliamentary engagement.

Headland’s new brief is on a retained basis and the contract is worth six figures, PRWeek understands.

The account will be led by Dan Smith, a partner at the agency.

Corporate and political challenges

TikTok faces a raft of corporate and political challenges in multiple countries because of links between parent company ByteDance and the Chinese government.

Last month, former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith told The Times newspaper that TikTok should be banned in the UK – where nearly five million people use the app – because of its proximity to “Chinese intelligence services”, and that it should be treated with the same level of concern as technology company Huawei.

In the US, Donald Trump signed an order that threatened to ban domestic businesses from working with TikTok unless it sold a majority stake to a US company by Tuesday this week.

Microsoft was thought to be the likely buyer, but US data company Oracle announced a deal to be TikTok's “trusted technology partner” in time for the deadline.

Meanwhile, Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, has asked intelligence agencies to investigate potential security threats from TikTok, while the country's Department of Home Affairs considers how to mitigate any privacy or data security risks uncovered.

And in Asia, TikTok has been banned in India, and Pakistan’s government has threatened to do the same.



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