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Weber Shandwick

Core disciplines: Digital, Public relations (PR)

Key people

Colin Byrne
Colin Byrne
CEO, UK & EMEA

Colin Byrne is one of the UK’s leading public affairs practitioners with thirty years’ experience spanning domestic and international public relations programmes, communications and campaign strategy, politics and public affairs, CSR and issues management.
He joined Weber Shandwick in 1995, rising to lead the public affairs practice in London in 1997. He is now CEO of the firm’s UK & EMEA network and a senior member of the global management team.
After several years in private and not-for-profit sector PR, Colin joined the British Labour Party’s communications team in 1987 and was quickly promoted to Head of Press & Broadcasting. He served as deputy to, then Labour Party Communications Director, Lord Mandelson (Tony Blair’s lead strategist) and press aide to Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Jack Straw.
In 1992 he became the first Communications Director of The Prince of Wales Business Leaders Forum, the international NGO founded by HRH The Prince of Wales. He managed corporate communications for the Forum globally and worked with leading international firms on the communication of their own CSR activities.
For eight years in a row, Colin appeared in GQ’s annual “100 Most Influential Men in Britain” ranking. He has appeared on BBC TV’s ‘Question Time’ and is a regular commentator and speaker on communications issues. Colin has been a judge for many of the key industry award programmes including Cannes Lions. In December 2013 he was chair of the PR jury at Eurobest.

Rachel  Friend
Rachel Friend
CEO, UK

Rachel Friend is the UK CEO.  She leads a team of 230, with deep expertise in our core specialisms of Consumer, Corporate, Health, Tech, Financial and Public Affairs, as well as London’s Planning, Creative, Digital and Production Studio capabilities, the largest in the EMEA region. 

Rachel has been with the firm since summer 2010, initially running London’s Consumer Marketing Practice, delivering three Olympic and Paralympic campaigns in 2012 including the Cannes Lions award winning EDF Energy of the Nation, and multi award winning campaigns for the likes of Mastercard, Samsung and Mobil 1, working with talent such as David Beckham, Jessie J and Jensen Button.

In 2014, Rachel lead Consumer Marketing in EMEA, a team of 250 consumer specialists delivering global and regional strategies and local activations for clients such as Nestle, Nespresso, Mastercard, Johnson & Johnson, Motorola and Unilever.

Previously, Rachel was the Head of Consumer PR for British supermarket Sainsbury’s, working closely with the Comms and Marketing teams to deliver brand, product, CSR and local PR.  She worked closely with Jamie Oliver to ensure all campaigns created differentiation from competitors, putting cooking at the heart of the offer, and the cut through to drive sales.

Rachel’s experience spans 20 years at agencies such as Hill & Knowlton and Bell Pottinger, with a stint as a press officer for The National Magazine Company working on titles such as Cosmopolitan, Harpers & Queen and Esquire.

Hugh Baillie
Hugh Baillie
Head of Client Service, Engagement Disciplines, EMEA

Hugh joined Weber Shandwick in January 2017. Based in London, he has oversight of a growing team of engagement specialists across the region and leads the firm’s strategic engagement disciplines, which are comprised of creatives, analysts, planners, content creators and social media strategists.

With extensive advertising experience, spanning BBH, Grey, Ogilvy & Mather and Saatchi & Saatchi, Hugh joined the agency from a CEO role at digital agency FullSix.

Client experience includes American Express British Airways, Diageo, Gillette, Motorola and Unilever.

Hugh admires work that moves people to feel, think and behave differently about a company, brand and/or product and believes that to do that the concept needs to be simple, stylish and/or witty, as well as something original enough for us to take notice of it. A great campaign has to be rooted in an idea that travels naturally over channels and time.

James Nester
James Nester
Executive Creative Director, UK & EMEA

From travelling gnomes to talking bottles and parking dogs… James Nester joined in summer 2015, with a brief to raise the creative reputation of Weber Shandwick UK and EMEA. Since then, James has recruited a team of award-winning creatives from outside the PR industry. And has been behind several campaigns that defy a traditional ‘PR’ label, winning multiple plaudits at national and global creative, effectiveness, social and PR festivals. And has been named an EMEA Top 25 Innovator by the Holmes Report.

Previously, James was Creative Director at We Are Social where, under his creative leadership, the agency was recognised as the best social and digital agency in the world, by AdAge. Prior to that James was Creative Partner at digital and direct agency OgilvyOne where he devised ‘The Gnome Experiment’, the world’s most awarded direct campaign in 2012 (Big Won Report) and the world’s most awarded PR campaign in 2013 (The Holmes Report). The initiative became part of the national science curriculum in several countries and now features in marketing textbooks including Social Media Marketing for Dummies.

In 2012, James was recognised as the UK’s number one creative by The Holmes Report and is one of the only people to have delivered a TED talk about an advertising campaign. He has judged the Cyber category at Cannes and has been recognised several times at the Festival for his work. Nester believes the best ideas break free of their channel to become social and news currency. They’re also endlessly campaignable on any platform, yet recognizable one idea – an approach he terms ‘Spikey Thinking’. He has worked across disciplines, from TV to direct and digital. And in most sectors; from airline to automotive, FMCG to B2B, medical to social impact.

Emma  Thompson
Emma Thompson
Managing Director, London Operations and Consumer

Emma joined Weber Shandwick in 2008 and has over 15 years’ experience running large-scale consumer and corporate public relations programmes for some of the world’s leading brands and organisations, including Coca-Cola, Diageo and Singapore Airlines. 

Emma is the managing director of the consumer division at Weber Shandwick in London and as such oversees a team of 50 providing senior strategic counsel across a range of client sectors and businesses. In addition to running a dynamic and ever-growing practice, Emma is a hands-on strategic lead on global accounts for AB InBev and Electrolux as well as a range of UK accounts, including the London Mayor’s Office. Her specialisms include strategic counsel, creative business solutions, leading international and UK integrated consumer and corporate marketing campaigns.

Emma has worked across the breadth and depth of sectors including travel and tourism for easyJet, Singapore Airlines and the GREAT Britain campaign; food and beverage for Warburtons, Pimm’s, Jacob’s Creek and Green Giant and, government for the Prime Minister’s Office, Department of Health and the Foreign Office.

Joe Walton
Joe Walton
Managing Director, London Technology Practice

Joe Walton is managing director of Weber Shandwick’s UK technology practice, based in London. He has been with the company for ten years delivering international communications programmes for a range of technology and B2B brands including BAE Systems, Capgemini, Concur, Honeywell, Microsoft, Nortel and Symantec.

In addition to his agency experience, Joe has twice been seconded to Microsoft to work as the in-house EMEA PR lead for the company’s advertising business, managing strategy and communications across 13 markets.

An experienced trainer, Joe has hosted storytelling and presentation courses in Europe and the US for BAE Systems, Capgemini and Microsoft. In 2014, he was invited to spend a week as a professional-in-residence at the University of Nebraska, Omaha where he conducted a series of 15 lectures on a range of topics including creativity and public speaking.

Prior to joining Weber Shandwick, Joe worked for marketing, PR and design agency, MC2 in Manchester on a range of corporate and B2B clients including Cobbetts, Deloitte and Grant Thornton.

Jon McLeod
Jon McLeod
Chairman, Corporate, Financial & Public Affairs,UK

Jon McLeod is one of the country's most experienced corporate communicators and lobbyists, with a strong track record in regulatory, financial and legal affairs.

Ranked by Total Politics magazine and PRWeek in the top 10 public affairs professionals in the country, he has been described by The Independent as 'a very powerful lobbyist'. His campaigns – ‘Pigs are worth it!’ and ‘We believe in D&T’ – have each won a Gold PR Lion at Cannes.

Jon went into public affairs in 1997 having spent six years as a financial and legal journalist. He was educated at Christ’s Hospital School and took an Exhibition in Russian and French at King’s College Cambridge. He spent four years at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy before joining the Law Society.

His industry sector experience covers media, defence, manufacturing, healthcare, financial and professional services, food, energy and infrastructure.

Jon is also Chairman of the Manchester office. In his spare time, he is a Board Member of the Halle Orchestra.

Graham Cox
Graham Cox LinkedIn
Director

Graham Cox joined Weber Shandwick at the beginning of 2017 to lead the continued growth of the UK business. With more than 10 years’ experience across all areas of business development and marketing communications, Graham’s core skills include implementing business growth strategies and client relationship management, driving the growing service offering while developing new external relationships.  

His career experience to date includes client and agency side roles, including work across Europe, Middle East and America. From start-up creative agencies, that required the very foundations of profile raising activity and new client engagement, to senior roles in global network agencies  pitching for longer term accounts, Graham has covered a variety of service offerings, including brand strategy, creative, communications, digital and employee engagement, that enable him to lead relevant and valued levels of discussion with senior business leaders.

Graham’s approach is based on the belief that it is the people within the business that help brands succeed. Listening to and learning about the strategic business objectives and human drivers within a business can often provide the answers to building better brands. 


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