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)
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") .
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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