Tourism Australia in U-turn on agency hire

Tourism Australia has abandoned its search for a UK PR agency in favour of building up its in-house team, and is on the verge of appointing a European PR chief.

The decision means BGB Communications, Tourism Australia's PR agency in the UK for 17 years, will have its responsibilities radically diminished from July, when BGB will be freed from a clause that prevented it from working for rival long-haul destinations.

Tourism Australia will bolster its in-house team from four staff to six and is set to hire a replacement for its top PRO, European PR and promotions manager Kate Kenward. She is leaving in May after 15 years.

In another twist, the tourism body has poached BGB senior account manager Emma Humphreys to take the role of UK, Ireland and Nordic PR manager.

After reviewing credentials from agencies for each of its European markets towards the end of last year (PRWeek, 3 September 2004), Tourism Australia decided to take PR in-house for the markets now overseen by Humphreys.

'The UK is our largest and most important long-haul market and we need to be able to move faster and get closer to the media,' said Kenward.

She added that the transition would be gradual, with BGB retained for projects, crisis comms and some media relations activity.

'The media are very familiar with (the BGB) relationship and it would be foolish to change that overnight,' she said.

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