Glasgow PR chief tells his successor ‘beware press’

The departing head of Glasgow City Council’s public relations and marketing unit, John Brown, has warned his successor she should expect hostile press.

The older brother of the Chancellor of the Exchequer said a robust strategy was needed to protect the council’s reputation.

Caryl Jackson, currently head of corporate communications for Strathclyde Police, takes up the post in February.

‘To rely solely on the media to tell the message is a recipe for disaster,’ said Brown, who has worked for the council for eight years.

‘The media is increasingly critical of local government, arguing that good services for the public are to be expected and not worth reporting,’ he added. ‘This means only the negative is heard. You have to be robust to counter this.’

Before joining Strathclyde Police in December 2002, Jackson was head of communications for the Local Government Information Unit in London for almost three years and senior account manager at the Central Office of Information for two, advising government departments on communications issues.

She will be responsible for the council’s corporate communications, marketing and events team of about 25 staff, and will report to chief executive George Black. ‘I am looking forward to the challenges,’ she told PRWeek.

Brown’s department fell under the spotlight in the summer (PRWeek, 8 August) when it was criticised in an independent report by Clearview Strategy for not being proactive enough. ‘It was an unfair review,’ said Brown. ‘The only way a council comms department can be proactive is if it has full control of the marketing and PR budget. I didn’t have that.’

Brown has repeatedly denied his decision to leave was linked to the Clearview report. He said he had yet to decide on his future and had not ruled out a return to journalism – he was a senior producer of political shows for Scottish TV in the late 1980s.

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