Relating to the Public


HCL Marketing Solutions is the PR company for the unelected regional development agency, Advantage West Midlands, and its various associated unelected quangos. HCL is based at the Innovation Centre at Keele University – a complex funded by … Advantage West Midlands.

In this post on recent AWM spending, Russ Cockburn, the PR Manager for West Midlands Business Link posted a very unprofessional, negative comment under a fake name. Unfortunately for Mr Cockburn it is relatively simple to match up the source of his comment and the “official” email he sent at around the same time/.

This behaviour leads to a number of questions:

  • Was this done whilst the taxpayer was paying for Mr Cockburn’s time?
  • Is this type of behaviour official policy?
  • Have AWM told HCL to target anyone criticising them in this way?


Now, I’m not an expert in PR – we don’t have a bottomless pit of taxpayers money for propaganda at West Midlands NO! – but I’m pretty sure that the whole point of PR is to promote an organisation positively, not with negativity. Rather than commenting under a pseudonym (and getting caught) in an entirely negative and disparaging manner, shouldn’t HCL be spelling out the benefits of an unelected, unaccountable regional quango spending millions of pounds of taxpayers money?

Or perhaps there are some things that even the mighty marketing industry can’t spin positively?