PROFILE: Rosemary Brook, IPR; Brook aims for change

Rosemary Brook, the new president of the IPR, looks slightly hassled as she grabs her things and leads me round the corner from her office to Kensington Palace Green. We settle in the lounge of the cottage she shares with her husband Dickie Arbiter, now head of PR for the Royal Collection, opposite a bookcase stuffed with books on Charles and Diana.

Rosemary Brook, the new president of the IPR, looks slightly hassled as

she grabs her things and leads me round the corner from her office to

Kensington Palace Green. We settle in the lounge of the cottage she

shares with her husband Dickie Arbiter, now head of PR for the Royal

Collection, opposite a bookcase stuffed with books on Charles and Diana.



The former chairman of Edelman UK, is by her own admission a much more

relaxed figure these days. The break with Edelman in July 1994 - which

she insists was amicable - followed some disappointing figures and a

rift with its flamboyant president Richard Edelman. She has few regrets.

‘I had no idea how much stress I was under in the previous regime until

it wasn’t there,’ she says.



She is still a little touchy on the subject, claiming her view about the

way forward for the agency has since been vindicated. ‘The direction

Edelman is going in now is the direction I wanted to go in. Richard told

me he was prepared to admit there was a much stronger call for

corporate PR and public affairs in Europe than perhaps he had previously

thought.’



These days she runs her own eight-strong consultancy with Sally Ann

Wilkinson and a respectable client list including : Railtrack, the

Tobacco Manufacturers Association, Tussaud’s Group and the Kuwait

Petroleum Company.



Brook Wilkinson is a very different kind of operation to the big

companies she is used to. After studying French and German at

University, Brook joined Wiggins Teape in 1968. Apart from a two-year

stretch with ad agency McCann Erickson, she stayed with the company for

14 years before being lured to Edelman as an associate director in 1982



Does she miss being in charge of a big company? ‘No, not at all. I like

the level of control over what you do and your own life, the ability to

pick and choose what you do. Though I do feel a slight withdrawal in

terms of international work. I spent almost my entire life on

multinational work and in some respects I do feel my experience is being

wasted... When I come up for air I’ve got my sights set on at least one

Anglo-French account.’



Former colleagues speak of her as a good people manager, although weaker

on the financial side of things. Brook herself admits that ‘the

distractions of management and the troubleshooting side of things’ got

in the way of the real business of advising clients.



A strong advocate of the importance of communications as a ‘core

discipline of management’, Brook is far removed from the spin and froth

image of PR that she is committed to overturning. ‘I love the dissection

of a problem and putting it back together again, that’s why I’m good at

strategy.’



She is not one of PR’s networkers: ‘I’m not a lady who lunches, I’m not

really interested in having a regular table at the Dorchester’. And she

has little time for diplomatic double speak: ‘You’ve got to be a little

provocative sometimes,’ she says.



Of her involvement with the IPR, she says: ‘You can’t stand on the

outside and criticise, you’ve got to get in and do something.’ Her

frustration with inertia felt in the IPR last year is apparent. ‘It’s a

disappointment to everybody, including Keith [Henshall, the 1994

president] that the process of continuous change has not been fulfilled

as he and the rest of us would have wished. It takes a lot of effort and

drive to keep the momentum up.’



She claims to be apolitical, but says she is passionately concerned

about the state of the education system. On a recent visit to the school

both she and her mother attended in Gravesend, she was shocked to see

how they were struggling due to lack of funds.



She also admits to a sneaking admiration for Sir James Goldsmith. ‘I

feel he’s always had a clear view of what he wants to do and he

communicates it rather well even if he is something of a maverick.’



The IPR may have thought it had opted for a safe pair of hands in Brook

but from the sound of it, things may be a little bit more exciting than

anyone expected.



HIGHLIGHTS



1975 Account supervisor, McCann Erickson

1977 Group PR manager Wiggins Teape Group

1982 Associate director Edelman PR

1989 UK chief executive Edelman

1994 Started Brook Wilkinson

1996 President, IPR



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