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Posted by: John Brace | 22nd September 2015

What did Cllr Phil Davies’ PR adviser have to say about the LCRCA devolution campaign?

What did Cllr Phil Davies’ PR adviser have to say about the LCRCA devolution campaign?

                                                              

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority meeting of the 21st September 2015 Part 1 of 2 (devolution and Transport for the North)

Ben O'Brien of Kenyon Fraser Ltd (a PR company) speaking at the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority meeting on the 21st September 2015

Ben O’Brien of Kenyon Fraser Ltd (a PR company) speaking at the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority meeting on the 21st September 2015

Declaration of Interest – the author wishes to declare an interest in that Google (named in the piece below) has an existing contract with the author for advertising revenue from Youtube videos.

Unusually a Chief Executive of a local PR company called Kenyon Fraser Limited spoke at the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority meeting on its agenda item on devolution. Below is the exchange between Cllr Phil Davies and Ben O’Brien of Kenyon Fraser, then I go into more detail about the existing contracts that this PR company Kenyon Fraser has with Merseytravel/Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

The Chair Cllr Phil Davies said at the end of a presentation by Ged Fitzgerald (Chief Executive, Liverpool City Council) on devolution, "With the Combined Authority being advised by Kenyon Fraser [Ltd] on this. Ben O’Brien from Kenyon Fraser has come here today, so just with your permission, I’d just like to give Ben a couple of minutes to talk about plans around public engagement, stakeholder involvement etc so Ben, do you want to just say a few words about that please? Thank you."

Ben O’Brien from PR company Kenyon Fraser said, "Chair, very briefly, as has been outlined in the presentation I think things are developing quickly and our role is to take that forward Chair.

I’m Chief Executive of Kenyon Fraser, my name’s Ben O’Brien, we’re a Liverpool based communications consultancy.

We’re very pleased to have been appointed to support taking the work forward and we’re linking in with colleagues in Knowsley in the Secretariat role in order to facilitate that.

And really given the timescales and the tasks in hand to provide additional resources to be able to do that work to a high standard in the timescales that are required of us.

So in short our role is to produce communications resources to support that better engagement with the public, with key stakeholder groups including the business community and other stakeholder groups relevant to the key policy proposal areas that are being taken forward at this time and in advance of the CSR [Comprehensive Spending Review] in the first instance.

So we’re here to provide additional resources, we’re pulling together our plans to support doing that at a city region level and at a borough level, as we’ll be required by the work that officers are undertaking at this stage and we want to take that work forward from here on in as it takes shape.

So thank you for inviting us along to introduce ourselves in the first instance."

Kenyon Fraser have a number of contracts with Merseytravel.

The first called the "Agreement for Consultancy Services relating to High Speed Rail for Liverpool Campaign development and delivery" is a contract dated 16th September 2014 for £99,500 for the work detailed below (prices have been blacked out by Merseytravel as apparently they are "commercially sensitive") .

Merseytravel Kenyon Fraser Limited contract Agreement for Consultancy Services relating to High Speed Rail for Liverpool Campaign development and delivery schedule of rates thumbnail

Merseytravel Kenyon Fraser Limited contract Agreement for Consultancy Services relating to High Speed Rail for Liverpool Campaign development and delivery schedule of rates thumbnail

For those wondering what the taxpayer got for £99,500 (or find it hard to read the image above) that was the work of the Chief Executive, a named Account Director (name was removed by Merseytravel), Account Managers/Designers/Web Designers/PRs and similar & engagement staff. The services of these people are charged on an undisclosed daily rate.

The Cost Summary Schedule detailed work in the following areas:

  • Campaign Strategy and planning, political engagement up to launch
  • Design and build website inc one year hosting
  • PR & Media Relations inc pre launch activity, copy, video, photography, staff attendance
  • Branding and core materials – design and production
  • Public launch, engagement activity to 12th August
  • Ongoing PR and media relations activity including Liverpool Echo partnership, copy, photography, social media
  • Political engagement activity including copy, packs, events, liaison
  • Events programme – business, opinion former and stakeholder engagement, all supporting activity
  • Public engagement activity across all Local Authority areas post launch period, petition support, public events

Total £99,500 of public money spent on a campaign, which hasn’t resulted in persuading the government to extend HS2 to Liverpool.

There is also an “Agreement for Communication Support” that Kenyon Fraser Limited have (or had) with the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive dated 12th December 2013. The brief for that one is simple and is:

  • To provide media support as and when required pending recruitment to the vacant posts within the Corporate Communications Team
  • To roll out support for the Stakeholder Engagement Plan
  • To provide specialist development and training support

Oh but there’s more than that! This company also has the "Framework Agreement for Consultancy Services for the Design of Travel Marketing Literature Commencing 1 January 2014 until 31 December 2015". This one is for bus posters, Google PPC advertising, Facebook advertising, other online activities, as well as quarter pages ads in the Liverpool Daily Post (although as this paper ceased publication in December 2013 I’m curious about why it’s in the contract), Southport & Formby Champion, Bootle, Crosby & Maghull Champion and Wirral Globe, advertising on the back of buses, bus stop advertising, employee engagement and PR activity such as "Mersey Summer Time", web page work, leaflets, in-car air fresheners, Meal for 2 incentives, engagement and PR activity.

It looks like this contract was extended in 2014 to 2017 and renamed "Consultancy Services Agreement for the Provision of Design Services for Travel Marketing Literature October 2013 to September 2017".

However there’s more, Kenyon Fraser Limited have a 35 page contract dated 20th May this year called the "Merseytravel Consultancy Services Framework Agreement 2015-2019 For Consultancy Services (Various Lots)" which is for PR, campaign & engagement.

I could start publishing Kenyon Fraser invoices to Merseytravel, but this is already starting to sound more like an advert for them than a serious piece of journalism. You can find one of the Kenyon Fraser invoices for £29,160 in this earlier story headlined Why did Merseytravel spend £2,775 on a “Parliamentary Reception”?

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Responses

  1. G’day John

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    Ooroo

    James

    Its not April Fools Day John is it?

    I suppose every day is for “Phil the Deluded Dill”.

    Come back to “The Raving Loony’s” asylum that is Wirral Phil before you make yourself a national or international fool of yourself.

    • I’m glad I amused you.

      No it’s not April Fools Day.

      Almost as amusing as yesterday evening councillors being told that Wirral Council’s Head of HR can’t give them a report on absence management, because she’s absent!

  2. Made My Day John

    Don’t forget to ask “Ecca” if he has done as he was told and signed those Wirralgate cheques John?

    That’s if he is in today John.

    Ooroo

    James

  3. G’day John

    The day that just keeps giving by the millions is getting more hilarious.

    No wonder “The Blinking CEO” is scared to say g’day.

    From the rubbish local propaganda sheet

    Wirral Council freelance staff and consultants are costing taxpayers millions

    He will have to speak up soon John and then can you ask him what he is going to do about Wirral “Funny” Bizz?

    It won’t go away until it is dealt with.

    Ooroo

    James

    And nor it should!

  4. The gap between ‘us’ and you is widening John. Your work is getting better and better each day. It’s certainly becoming harder to compete with you.
    Wirral is indeed fortunate. There’s you and your laser like precision on the facts and your dogged determination to open up these revelations for public scrutiny, you’ve got the mighty Wirral Leaks who lampoon every single one of ‘them’ who abuse their access to our money, there’s Cardin who I personally wouldn’t want biting into the rump of my fat arse and giving me no respite from his relentless pursuit and you’ve got Martin Morton who quietly goes about his business reminding all who read his blog what can happen to you if ever you choose to tell the truth and blow that whistle.
    Course, not every region has The Four, the Wirral Four and mores the pity as far as I’m concerned. Here in Hereford, where I tipped up nearly four decades ago we’ve only got The One, the Hereford One, which happens to be bloody me and nobody takes a blind bit of notice, which, given my odd way of thinking, is hardly bloody surprising.
    Yes! Your most definitely getting better John. You’ve always been good but during the last few months you’ve undergone a rapid surge of development and its a joy to read.
    Well done John. Your a credit to your tribe.

    • Oh dear, next you’ll be saying like the common criticism of the “political class” and professional politicians that I’m too far away from the concerns of everyday folk.

      I could never hope to compete with your style bobby47.

      However, in the interests of showing you you’re not alone. I introduce you to the famous Barnet five bloggers (now Barnet four).

      These are Broken Barnet (written by Mrs. Angry), Mr Reasonable, Mr Mustard (who deals with people’s parking tickets problems and the Barnet Eye.

      Most of the better stories and ways of getting stories on this blog, I’ve probably learnt from other bloggers.

      The way you describe us Bobby makes us sound like the A-team:

      “In 1972 a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.”

      However Bobby joking aside, a lot of what I write about is sheer luck and just being in the right place at the right time (and I can’t take all the credit as my wife helps me in my work too).


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