Profile: Michael Murphy, Shandwick UK - Shandwick’s Asian import/Michael Murphy has made it in Taiwan and now he’s taking on Shandwick UK

One of the least visible architects of Shandwick’s new UK structure will burst on to centre stage next month, when he jets in from Hong Kong as Shandwick UK’s managing director.

One of the least visible architects of Shandwick’s new UK structure

will burst on to centre stage next month, when he jets in from Hong Kong

as Shandwick UK’s managing director.

Michael Murphy, formerly regional director of Shandwick Asia, is

determined that the Shandwick name must become more visible. ’There have

been instances in the past where perhaps Shandwick has not been seen as

quite the right company to put on the pitch list.’

But things are changing, he says. A taskforce is working on improving

the company’s internal and external communications. There have been

major client account wins recently - including Reckitt and Colman and

Hogg Group.

And then there is Shandwick UK’s reorganisation and re-branding, to

encourage clients to take advantage of its range of capabilities.

Former colleagues are confident of Murphy’s ability to cope with the

changes ahead. ’The key thing about Murphy is that he is extremely well

focused,’ says Tony Meehan, managing director at Glasgow agency TMA


’He is a good strategist and has the ability to deliver.’

Gordon Casely, Murphy’s former boss at Greater Glasgow Transport, and

now Aberdeenshire Council head of communications, recalls Murphy’s

legendary capacity for work, and his good manners. But, Casely warns

that ’his gentleness should not be mistaken for softness’.

Murphy, 43, learned a tough business and personal lesson in the

mid-1980s, when he led the management buyout of the PR operation within

the ad agency group Grant Foster and founded his own agency, PR

Consultants Scotland.

’I borrowed what at the time seemed like an enormous amount of money,’

he recalls. He had just moved house and his wife was pregnant with their

first child. ’We could hardly make ends meet. It made me very hungry to


To this day, Murphy says he remains ’quite strict’ with his personal

finances. He is also determined that Shandwick be run as efficiently as

possible. Getting the best out of resources is one of his strengths, he

says. The other is his broad experience. ’In Scotland I got my hands

dirty on everything from industrial disputes to the marketing of whisky,

major UK government privatisation’s and hostile takeovers,’ he


Following the sale of PR Consultants Scotland to Shandwick in 1989,

Murphy extended his experience still further, becoming chief executive

of Shandwick Hong Kong in 1993, and regional director for Asia in 1995.

Under his stewardship, Shandwick opened its first offices in China,

Malaysia and Taiwan. Clients included major regional firms, and also

multinationals such as Digital, Master Car and fibreglass technology

company Owens Corning.

’Companies are recognising that their global reputation needs to be

managed,’ says Murphy, ’but a lot of companies have treated Asia as one

single marketplace.’

Trying to re-educate clients, and even colleagues on this point was the

most interesting part of his Asian role, he says: ’There are huge

differences in language, huge differences in culture, huge differences

in the way the media works and of course all those have to be taken into


As a ’passionate Scot’, Murphy is perhaps especially sensitive about the

assumption that the peoples of neighbouring countries are alike. While

he says he has enjoyed Asia, he seems pleased to be moving close to


’Home is in Glasgow, so I’m still 400 miles away. I’ve never actually

lived and worked full time in London.’

He has however tried to stay acquainted with the city and its gossip,

reading PR Week, the Sunday Times and the FT ’religiously’. He already

knows London well enough to be planning on patronising its Thai


Those who want to please the new managing director, take note.



Press officer for Greater Glasgow Transport


Leads MBO of PR Consultants Scotland from Grant Foster


Sells PR Consultants Scotland to Shandwick


Regional director of Shandwick Asia


Managing director of Shandwick UK

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