GEC, one of the UK’s largest industrial conglomerates, has reversed
its 30-year-old closed door policy to the press and is expanding its
communications team to reflect the change.
Legend has it that under the leadership of GEC founder Lord Weinstock,
the company’s policy for dealing with the press was to ’let the phone
ring’. Now the company is appointing its first heads of media relations
and internal communications.
Martin Sixsmith, a former BBC correspondent and currently director of
information at the Department of Social Security, is to join as head of
media relations on 22 March.
Stuart Gendall, who arrives next week from listed company
Biocompatibles, where he was corporate communications director, will be
internal communications head.
The reported six-figure salary that comes with Sixsmith’s job reflects
the importance GEC’s chief executive Lord Simpson is placing on
communicating positive stories to the press as the company undergoes
Last November Simpson moved his head of marketing - the former Tory
defence minister Sir Geoffrey Pattie - to the role of group
But the need for a hands-on operator is clearly apparent. Only last week
boardroom spats over the Marconi merger found their way into the
Commenting on his appointment Sixsmith, a seasoned foreign
correspondent, said he was looking forward to working at GEC at a time
when it was forging a new identity.
’They’re very conscious of big changes. I think it’s fair to say that
they want to be more proactive in communicating with the press,’ he
’The whole character of the company is changing and I assure you I will
be proactive in selling more positive stories about GEC to the
Meanwhile Gendall’s job will be to focus on communicating to GEC’s
100,000 employees - 55,000 of whom are in the UK - the changes that the
industrial giant is undergoing.