Shell hires Bruseth to its top media job

Royal Dutch/Shell has hired Brunswick senior associate partner Stuart Bruseth as its new head of group media relations at a time of intense media scrutiny.

Bruseth joins as Shell attempts to recover from the scandal around the over-estimation of its reserves that saw a string of resignations, including chairman Sir Philip Watts, head of exploration and production Walter van de Vijver and chief financial officer Judith Boynton.

He oversees five media relations officers and is responsible for media relations for the group and its global divisions. He reports to Shell vice-president of external affairs Mary Jo Jacobi.

Bruseth, whose role places particular emphasis on the financial press, trade and broadcast media, will work alongside retained City PR agency Finsbury, which also reports to Jacobi.

He replaces James Herbert – who left the group officially in December but carried out a project for the firm until March – and was last week appointed by the Department of Health to head PR for its £6bn National Programme for IT.

Earlier this year, Shell appointed Brunswick, where Bruseth spent five years, to handle its response to Shell’s group audit committee review, compiled by US law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, into the company’s overbooking against projected reserves.

However, Bruseth was not involved in the work at Brunswick, which completed the short-term project after the review’s findings were published last month.

The effects of the report are still being felt, with Shell finishing bottom of Thomson Intermedia’s Reputation Monitor for 20-26 April (PRWeek, 30 April).

Davis Polk found that Shell had been aware of the overbooking situation for at least two years and was in breach of Securities & Exchange Commission laws.

Shell recently announced the restart of its share buy-back programme, worth about £1.1bn.

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