Brown leaves O2 to set up web reputation venture

O2 group director of public affairs Richard Brown is quitting to start his own reputation consultancy as Spanish telco Telefonica this week agreed a £17.7bn bid for the mobile phone firm.

Brown leaves at the end of November to launch UK Net Monitor, which will advise companies how to better manage their reputation over the internet.

'Companies are not paying enough attention to what is being said about them in chat rooms, blogs and discussion forums,' said Brown. He added that the venture would 'provide bespoke reports to companies to keep them abreast of what's being said and what's being read'.

He said he would be supported by five people adept in 'trawling through the chaff to find the wheat'. Prospective clients are consumer brands and firms that attract significant attention from pressure groups.

At O2, Brown reports to group director of corporate affairs Richard Poston. The company is recruiting for his replacement.

Brown has been responsible for government relations across O2's UK, Germany and Ireland territories. It has over 24 million customers, 14 million in the UK alone.

He has also been responsible for communicating the group's corporate responsibility programme, initiated by then chairman David Varney when it demerged from BT in 2001.

Brown joined O2 in 2001 from Camelot, where he spent four years, three of them as director of government relations. He set up Camelot's government relations team and was instrumental in winning government acceptance of a 'for-profit' lottery operator and securing its second licence. Prior to that he was British Chambers of Commerce deputy director.

'After 20 years doing public affairs in big corporates, I have seen the industry moving from a focus on government relations to more
general stakeholder work,' Brown said.

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