Edelman looks left with hire of Labour briefings chief Emily Richards
Richards will help the Tory-led lobbying team get to grips with Jeremy Corbyn.
Edelman has made a bid to strengthen its Labour credentials by hiring the party’s head of briefing Emily Richards.
The agency’s UK public affairs offer is currently led by Will Walden, a former chief of staff to Boris Johnson. Walden said Richards had been brought in because more clients were demanding answers about how to prepare for a Labour government.
“Labour’s improved showing in last year’s snap general election, coupled with continued uncertainty over Brexit, mean clients are increasingly interested in what a potential future Labour administration might mean for their business,” he said.
The former Tory aide added: “It’s vital that our current and future clients understand how Labour views business, and Emily was the standout candidate in this space. Her appointment gives clients immediate insight, and will help them to drive engagement with Labour policy makers whilst navigating Labour’s policy objectives.”
A spokesperson for Edelman said that Richards would head up a new team in Edelman’s public affairs unit “offering clients insight and understanding of Jeremy Corbyn’s policy objectives and his party’s approach to business”. She will be working alongside senior directors Craig Woodhouse, Lucy Thomas and James Morris.
The hire come as UK public affairs agencies have so far struggled to find new recruits with experience of working for Corbyn's Labour. One senior party figure who did recently make the move is Labour's long-serving director of policy and research Simon Jackson. He has joined Teneo Blue Rubicon as an associate director.
Before moving to Labour HQ, Richards was editorial and communications manager at the New Labour campaign group Progress.
In a statement on the move, she said: “At a time of such significant political change and uncertainty the need for business to understand and engage with the policies of all parties is more important than ever. At this challenging time, comprehensive insight into the possible future policy landscape is vital. After over a decade working in Labour politics I’m looking forward to using my experience to help businesses develop their understanding and relationships with the Labour Party, and to support Edelman’s wide range of stakeholders to engage with Labour policy-makers.”
Labour recently advertised for a new head of briefing and rebuttal. The job ad stated that the key purpose of the role involved “the production and dissemination of briefing material relating to the policies of major political parties”. The postholder would also have to “coordinate and quality assure timely briefing of Labour frontbenchers”.