WS puts Prescott at helm of merged PA /corp team

Weber Shandwick is merging its public affairs and corporate practices and putting former Sunday Times political editor Michael Prescott in charge of the beefed up division as MD.

Malcolm Gooderham and D-J Collins will become joint deputy MDs in the new regime, effective from the new year. The shake-up sees current public affairs MD Jon McLeod shift to a more arms-length role as chairman of public affairs.

The merger reflects WS's desire to provide a full service to big businesses wanting advice on corporate strategy and government relations combined.

WS UK & Ireland chief executive Colin Byrne said McLeod's role would now be to develop the 'market positioning and intellectual development' of the agency's public affairs offering, as well as client handling.

'There is tremendous collaboration to be had between corporate and public affairs,' explained Byrne. He added that the enlarged practice will number close to 50 staff, but claimed it would not create client conflict.

Fee income for the PA and corporate practices combined is understood to be around £5.5m.

Prescott has hitherto held the title of MD of corporate and vice-chairman of PA. He joined WS at the end of 2001 after nine years at The Sunday Times, which he joined as home affairs correspondent and was latterly political editor.

Gooderham is a former chief media spokesman for Michael Portillo. He rejoined WS in the beginning of 2004 after a year at Bell Pottinger Public Affairs.

Collins joined the agency in autumn 2004 as a director straddling corporate and public affairs, having been head of news and strategic planning at the Department for Education & Skills.

WS senior vice-chairman David Yelland will continue to provide media counsel to corporate and public affairs clients. The former Sun editor's major clients are Tesco, Coca-Cola and Multiplex.

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