OPINION: Leader - Golley Slater deal to stiffen competition

Despite the skilful exploitation of any number of new business opportunities over the years, none of the major US-owned PR networks has yet managed to build a UK regional operation to rival regional specialist Harrison Cowley and local firms in population centres such as Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Newcastle.

Sure, there are offices of Top 5 firms competing with the leading players in each city. But the reality is that outside London, the major operators are independents. They may work for some clients on nationwide remits but it is their constant refrain that the historic reluctance of major FTSE clients to hire agencies beyond the M25 has not been broken down.

Competition in the outside-London sector got tougher still this week with the acquisition by marketing group Golley Slater (based in Cardiff) of NP, the business formerly known as Northern Profile that has offices across the north of England.

Even if the £90m of combined billings they announced is slightly misleading (PR fee income being barely more than five per cent of that) the emergence of a serious rival to HC, the local shops and the big boys' branch offices is a scenario worth clients keeping an eye on.

Haringey PROs deserve better treatment

Those watching the increasingly bloody spat between the press office and management at Haringey Council in north London could only look on in disbelief this week as relations dissolved into open warfare.

To recap: the borough came close to the top of our Council Rankings with a comms team of a size out of all proportion to both the size and population of its local area. The borough's head of comms has already moved on but the bosses, inevitably, are now reviewing operations with a view to cutting headcount further still.

Nothing wrong there, you might say - management has a right to staff a unit as it sees fit. But the manner in which it has been carried out does not inspire confidence that this is an organisation in touch with the concerns of either its internal or external public.

Impersonal letters from the council CEO authorising the press team to leave the day their formal job re-applications were rejected serve as a case study in how not to communicate bad news. The staff deserve better.

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