Hill is to join the Bell Pottinger Group as a director based in The Collective – an arm of the consultancy that deals with clients that have ‘complex, multi-disciplinary needs’. He plans to start the new job as early as next week, some 12 weeks after Blair stood down as prime minister.
‘After an extraordinary four years with the prime minister, I took the opportunity to take a little time off,’ he told PRWeek. ‘But that’s over now and I’m looking forward with enthusiasm to what I’ll be doing next.’
Hill took over from Alastair Campbell as Downing Street director of communications in 2003. Before that, he spent five years as MD of Good Relations Political, part of Bell Pottinger.
But Hill made his name as director of communications for the Labour Party, a post he held from 1991 to 1999. In the latter role, he worked closely with Weber Shandwick chief executive and former Labour Party chief press officer Colin Byrne.
Hill revealed that, since Blair’s departure, he has been approached by ‘one or two’ large companies. He said he was also approached ‘indirectly’ by an unspecified number of agencies but declined to name them.
Hill added that his new remit would be considerably different from the last time he was at the agency. ‘The job I will do now is a much broader job, rather than public affairs-dominated,’ he said.
PRWeek previously reported Hill had spoken with senior figures about a possible return to Bell Pottinger just days after Blair stood down (PRWeek, 29 June). The agency has recently come under attack from Labour MP John Grogan for refusing to sign up to public affairs industry codes that require agencies to disclose their clients.
In a separate development... Blair’s influential former director of government relations Anji Hunter will leave British Petroleum (BP) at the end of the year, six years after joining as director of communications.