Comic Relief comms and public affairs chief to join Airbnb

Rachelle Laurence, head of strategic comms and public affairs at Comic Relief, is leaving the charity to take up an EMEA comms role at Airbnb.

Rachelle Laurence (pictured), who leaves Comic Relief after three years, has taken the role of trust and safety EMEA news strategist at Airbnb, where she will oversee reputation management, crisis and strategic comms across the region.

She told PRWeek: “I’ll be working with the press teams across those regions on strategic issues and problem-solving. And working across the company on proactive strategic comms campaigns.”

Laurence will report to Peter Huntingford, Airbnb’s head of corporate and policy communications in EMEA.

Airbnb said: “In her new role, Rachelle will lead strategic communications on trust and safety matters in EMEA, including rapid response on breaking news stories and launching products and innovations to strengthen Airbnb’s relationship with cities, clampdown [on] bad actors, and help make Airbnb the most trusted travel platform in the world.”

Laurence has been listed in the PRWeek UK Power Book list of the 10 most influential charity comms professionals for the past two years.

Among the biggest achievements during her time at Comic Relief she cited changing the narrative around the charity’s appeal films and addressing historic ‘white saviourism’ allegations. Laurence also highlighted Comic Relief’s divestment from fossil fuel investments, the ‘greening’ of its plastic-free noses, handling comms for the Big Night In COVID-19 crisis TV special, working closely with BBC, and forging stronger government relations.

Before joining Comic Relief in 2019, initially as head of corporate and crisis communications, Laurence held a number of comms roles at the Mayor of London's office, serving under all three mayors.

She headed desks on topics including housing, policing and the environment. For the latter she led comms on the first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) delivery for Sadiq Khan, which included a multimedia strategy on air pollution and its impact on health.

A Comic Relief spokesperson told PRWeek: “At the moment a successor for Rachelle has yet to be appointed. In the meantime, the Comic Relief PR team and CEO office are covering responsibilities and working across the various remits.”

Laurence posted about her new role on LinkedIn:

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