Salford raids private outfit to fill council’s top PR post

Salford City Council has turned to a private sector marketing expert to fill its newly created top PR role.

Simon Malcolm, currently head of e-marketing at catalogue publishing firm Otto UK will become the council’s first head of marketing and communications in the next few months, although the council has yet to set an official start date.

Malcolm will report to Salford City Council chief executive John Willis, the first direct reporting line of its kind for a PR professional at the council. Communications and PR manager Ian Andrew said Malcolm will have free reign to bring in whatever reforms he considers necessary.

Improvements in communications are seen as particularly vital in the light of last year’s Comprehensive Performance Assessment review, which was carried out by the Audit Commission.

The council was judged as ‘weak’ in the review, with the commission highlighting the quality of housing in the city as a significant problem. It concluded that the council’s ‘priorities for improvement are unclear’.

Of Malcolm’s appointment, Andrew said: ‘He has been given a remit at the top table to look at communications across the council.’

He added that one option for Malcolm to consider is the appointment of the council’s first external PR adviser.

Malcolm was a journalist and also worked in marketing at Leicester’s De Montfort University before joining Otto UK, which is one of the largest catalogue publishers in the UK and has brands including Grattan and Freemans.

As the council’s new head of comms, Malcolm will oversee a campaign, already under way, to rid the city of its poor and deprived image. This focuses on promoting landmarks such as the Lowry complex and has already involved the creation of a new logo for the council (PRWeek, 22 August).

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