Danny Rogers on PR: Want a PR challenge? Try Barclays


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The Independent Online

So who has the toughest job in PR going into 2013? In years past the gong regularly went to the communications director of British Airways, an airline with a historic adeptness for shooting itself in the foot, from disputes with staff to ridiculous tailfins. But these days, BA is avoiding turbulence, with sure-footed boss Willie Walsh even threatening to give PRmeister Sir Richard Branson a “knee in the groin”. Hence current PR supremo Paul Marston can afford to feel relatively relaxed over the festive season. BA's challenge, after a stellar sponsorship of the Olympics, will be creating an equivalent buzz during 2013.

BBC communications director Paul Mylrea, on the other hand, has had an annus horribilis. The lengthy appointment of a new boss George Entwistle over the summer must have been tiring enough but since then it has been a long downhill run for the BBC's reputation.

However the corporate crisis of the year must be awarded to Barclays, which was revealed to have previously fixed the Libor rate. The bank continues to face serious allegations here and abroad. PR boss Howell James left in October and last week took up a new role as head of global comms for auction house Christie's. His successor at Barclays, Stephen Doherty – who joined from Diageo – is untarnished by previous crises, but has a difficult job changing the culture of a bank that has recently appeared arrogant and cavalier.

On a related note, the British Bankers' Association last week hired Paul Stephenson as director for external affairs. Stephenson was previously a special advisor to then health secretary Andrew Lansley. With a brief to "restore public trust in the banking industry", one can only wish him well.

Nevertheless – and I may be biased here, as a lifelong fan - there is one PR man who deserves every penny he will earn in 2013: Steve Atkins, comms director at Chelsea Football Club. Here's wishing him, and you all, a peaceful New Year.

Danny Rogers is editor of PR Week