Conduit cuts PR21 ties after 11 88 88 lags competition

Conduit, the Irish-based directory enquiries company that operates the 11 88 88 service, has ended its relationship with PR21 as it struggles for survival against The Number and BT.

A PR21 spokeswoman said the agency had come to the end of its one-year contract.

Conduit is not replacing the agency. Instead, all press enquiries are being handled by the company’s Irish PR agency , White & Associates.

Conduit has struggled for market share despite offering consumers the cheapest call rates and having the biggest marketing budget.

However, from 1 November, it reneged on its low-cost positioning of 20p a minute by introducing an additional 25p connection charge, bringing it in line with its competitors.

PR21 spearheaded the company’s efforts to position 11 88 88 as a cheaper alternative to rivals, particularly BT. The agency is understood to have been responsible for prompting media coverage of BT’s controversial plans to outsource its directory enquiries call centre to India.

Industry estimates last month put Conduit’s UK market share at less than 15 per cent, prompting chief executive Liam Young’s resignation.

Conduit operates successful directory enquiry operations in the deregulated markets of Ireland and Germany, as well as services on behalf of other telecoms companies.

The Number – the firm that runs the 118 118 service –, hired Brazil to handle consumer and business PR just prior to deregulation (PRWeek, 15 August).

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