PRWeek Corporate, City & Public Affairs Awards winners: Best Corporate In-house Comms Team

The winner in this category is NatWest Group's corporate affairs department.

The bank's corporate affairs team has a demonstrably successful past year in challenging circumstances.

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Over the past 12 months, the team has dealt with the departure of a CEO, the appointment of a successor, a change in branding from RBS Group to NatWest Group, the launch of a new purpose-led strategy, and supporting its customers and communities through both Brexit and COVID-19.

A key aim was to establish new chief executive Alison Rose as a leader with a credible long-term strategy for the bank. Announcements about the name change from RBS Group to NatWest Group, and the bank's new purpose "to champion potential, helping people, families and businesses to thrive", were timed alongside its full-year results. It led the news that day, with interviews across all national outlets including BBC, ITV and Sky News, and was the most-noticed banking story for the past 18-months, with 67 per cent of coverage neutral or positive in sentiment.

NatWest Group also had to change tactic quickly during COVID-19 to explain the support being provided by the bank to customers, staff and wider society during the pandemic. It was the first major UK bank to outline a package of support with a £5bn Coronavirus Working Capital Fund.

Research has found that the bank's reputation with journalists has reached the highest point since it began measuring in 2010 - and among MPs, since 2016. For the first time, NatWest had the best reputation in the sector amongst NGOs. In addition, its reputation and trust amongst customers is the highest it’s been for two years.

Judge's comment:

"Very strong entry... with demonstrably good statistics to back it up. Met every criteria extensively. Great work!"


Highly commended:

O2, corporate affairs

2020 was an eventful, and successful, one for O2's corporate affairs team amid the huge challenges. A team restructure saw, for example, the establishment of a strategy, planning and insights function, the addition of new heads of external and internal communications, and a new channels team was to strengthen social media and content delivery. Executing and announcing the proposed £31bn deal to combine O2 and Virgin Media in the UK was among its big challenges. A study found the public perceived O2 as doing more than other networks to help Britain’s recovery. Its reputational score is up 2.5 points from the first half of 2019, and it's widened the gap versus its nearest competitor to 3.5 points.

Shortlisted:

Janus Henderson

Lloyds Banking Group, group corporate affairs

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