PUBLIC SECTOR: Liverpool City Council appoints Finnegan

Liverpool City Council head of news Matt Finnegan has been made assistant executive director for comms as the council launches a drive to improve its global reputation.

Finnegan, who joined the authority from PR firm Staniforth's Liverpool office in 1999, will lead the campaign and will kick-start a process of 're-engineering the city's comms department'.

Finnegan, who effectively became head of communications at Liverpool when former head of comms Daniel Harris left the authority in 2000, said the city intended to build on the fact that it enjoyed a more positive image globally than many parts of the UK, to reverse stereotypical images.

At the same time the council is spearheading Liverpool's drive to become European Capital of Culture for 2008. Rival bidders for the title, which guarantees extra EU funding and can also boost tourism, are Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Newcastle/Gateshead and Oxford. The winner will be announced by the Prime Minister in June.

The authority's comms team has hired extra staff and Liverpool-based consultancy October PR to help the bid.

Meanwhile Finnegan plans to continue fine-tuning the city's comms unit, shaken up under CEO David Henshaw when he arrived in 1999.

Finnegan - whose arrival coincided with Henshaw's - was responsible for an audit of comms - a task he described as 'like opening every cupboard door and finding a skeleton inside each one'.

The audit described the existing marketing and PR structure at the council as 'haphazard, costly and dogged by inefficiency and work duplication'.

Henshaw said at the time that different parts of the council, such as housing and social services, had each evolved their own marketing and publications functions and some staff were carrying out virtually identical marketing activity in different departments.

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