Media Relations: CBI hires Rail's Latham to manage press office

The CBI, the lobbying body for UK business, has hired the Strategic Rail Authority's (SRA) top media relations executive, Paul Latham, to head its press office.

Reporting to CBI director of press and public affairs Audrey Nelson, Latham will lead a four-strong press office as head of news. The CBI represents 200,000 businesses in the UK, including about 85 per cent of FTSE 100 companies.

Latham joins the CBI on 11 April. He replaces Roger Davidson, who left in January to head external affairs at health industry watchdog the Healthcare Commission (PRWeek, 21 January).

'The core issue for the CBI is ensuring that decision makers are aware of the vital role that business plays in contributing to the wealth of the nation and creating jobs,' said Latham.

He cited pensions and education as two areas currently under the political microscope, and on which business needed to be strongly represented in the media.

Latham was head of media, with a press office of six, at the SRA. His four-year stint included acting as press secretary for the organisation's then chairman Richard Bowker.

The SRA is being shut down by the end of the year, with most of its responsibilities transferring to the Department for Transport.

The organisation's nature as a government agency led to 'fairly heavy reactive' PR activity, said Latham, adding that CBI's approach to communications was different.

Latham said that his time at The Countryside Alliance, where he was senior press officer, had given him experience of working in a more proactive lobbying environment, similar to that of the CBI.

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