Friends Reunited axes launch shop Beatwax

Friends Reunited, the hugely successful website, has dumped the PR agency instrumental in building its profile from its inception.

The firm staged a pitch for PR support without informing four-year incumbent Beatwax Communications.

The agency was only alerted to the firm’s decision to review the account after the pitch process was complete.

BMA Communications won a four-way pitch this week to handle national consumer campaigns for the company on a project basis.

But fees on the account have been cut substantially after a decision to take much of PR in-house. ‘There was a disagreement over fee structure which brought to head the change of agency,’ said Beatwax head of PR Paul Johnson. ‘It’s not because we’ve got a sour relationship with them.’

BMA will focus on raising the profile of the firm’s spin-off sites, Genes Reunited and Friends Reunited Dating, as well as devising campaigns for the main site.

Friends Reunited has amassed 11 million members through word-of-mouth and media coverage, based around co-founders Steve and Julie Pankhurst and stories of reunions.

Friends Reunited head of PR Carolynne Bull-Edwards said: ‘Following the global expansion of our brand, we have brought most of our PR in-house, where it is more cost-efficient and we can grow our own expertise.’

Bull-Edwards, who joined two months ago, hired Elizabeth Sheahan as its first press officer this month.

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