Kelly, neé Bowman, left the financial services firm AXA last year to marry and relocate to Scotland.
Barkers has a strong record in public sector PR, but given Kelly’s experience of corporate comms, her appointment signals an intention to seek new clients.
According to Kelly, Barkers is the third-largest agency in Scotland behind The Big Partnership and Beattie Communications, with PR contributing about 20 per cent of its income.
Major clients include the Scottish Executive.
‘There is a lot of PR expertise in Scotland and it’s a very buoyant market,’ said Kelly. ‘My background is very corporate, particularly in professional and financial services, which is reasonably unique in Scotland.
‘There are a lot of blue-chip firms in Scotland but they often look to London for corporate comms advice. We’re looking to pick up business that has been handled in-house or by agencies south of the border,’ she added.
Kelly spent three years as head of PR at Allied Dunbar before joining Saga as its first group PR manager. She then had stints at Brunswick as associate partner and Hill & Knowlton as board director, before moving to AXA in 2002.
As managing director of Barkers PR Scotland, Kelly oversees seven staff and reports to agency managing director Chris Wallace.