Editorial: LIFFE misses the broader PR view

News that the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange (LIFFE) has parted company with its high profile external affairs director Richard Pratt, and ended its contract with its public affairs consultancy Hill and Knowlton as part of a wide ranging cost cutting exercise, couldn’t have come at a worse time.

News that the London International Financial Futures and Options

Exchange (LIFFE) has parted company with its high profile external

affairs director Richard Pratt, and ended its contract with its public

affairs consultancy Hill and Knowlton as part of a wide ranging cost

cutting exercise, couldn’t have come at a worse time.



LIFFE, one of the last havens of traditional ’open-cry’ trading, is

under pressure to modernise. It has already lost market share to

Frankfurt’s electronic exchange DTB and its monopoly in the gilts future

markets is now being challenged by the French. But cutting back on the

management of its external communications during a time of radical

internal change is dangerously short-sighted. Fears are already being

expressed about the future of the City as a centre for European

financial excellence.



LIFFE needs to clearly communicate that it is catching up with its

hi-tech European rivals. Chief executive Daniel Hodson flags up the fact

that he has direct links with his head of press relations as evidence of

the importance of PR to the exchange. But amalgamating such specialist

areas as public affairs and product marketing suggests a certain naivety

about the complexities of the communications challenge.



Shandwick, the exchange’s remaining retained agency, has apparently now

been asked to advise on structuring future PR requirements. Hopefully,

its first piece of advice will be that for a forward thinking

organisation cutting back on communications expertise at a time of

crisis is an anathema.



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