Duncan, until recently managing editor for BBC current affairs TV programme Reporting Scotland, has joined Scottish Water this week as its first head of corporate affairs. He will lead a ten-strong external communications department and has a brief to gain more
positive coverage for the under-fire body.
Since its creation last year from an amalgamation of three regional water bodies, Scottish Water has come under a barrage of criticism in the media, including negative stories from, among others, Duncan’s former employer.
A BBC Frontline Scotland investigation earlier this year found that Scottish residents paid more for a lower quality of water than those living in England. Also, a report last month in The Scotsman re-emphasised the comparison with English privatised firms and called into question its state-owned status.
Duncan said the main aim of future PR efforts was to ‘show how the water industry is transforming after 20 years of under-investment. In England there was huge investment after privatisation during the 1980s – that has not happened in Scotland’.
However, he added: ‘Our job is not to dwell on the past, but look to what is being done to improve the quality of service.’
A key point in this strategy is expected to come in the autumn, when around £2bn worth of investment in replacing pipelines is set to be approved.
Duncan’s hire comes a month after the appointment of Glasgow Herald Edinburgh editor Helen Lennox as Scottish Water’s PR head, to handle the day-to-day running of media relations work.
Duncan joins after almost 20 years at the BBC.