Colin Byrne is the UK chief executive of the PR firm Weber Shandwick.
Byrne was hired by Peter Mandelson to work as the the UK Labour Party chief press officer between 1988 and 1992. He also worked on the 1997 and 2001 Labour Party general election campaigns.
Between 1992 and 1995 Byrne was Communications Director for The Prince of Wales Business Leaders Forum. "After a stint as PR Manager for the National Farmers Union he joined Shandwick in 1995, where he was made MD of Shandwick Public Affairs," a biographical note states.
"Colin's client experience includes Shell, IKEA, National Grid, Hyder, BAT, the BBC, Nestlé , South Africa, work for President Putin of Russia and the British Government, BNFL and Oracle," his profile states. (BAT is the acronym for British American Tobacco).
According to leaked internal documents from Shandwick's New York office Byrne advised Shell when it was when it came under criticism for its role in the Nigerian government's 1995 execution of playwright and indigenous activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. In response to a request from Shandwick New Zealand, which was working for a government owned logging company Timberlands for information on the Body Shop Daphne Luchtenberg of Shandwick-New York alluded to "dealings and similar wranglings with The Body Shop over their campaign against Shell and Nigeria--Ken Sarawiwo [sic]--do you remember?"
She offered help for Timberlands from American Shandwick staff who had assisted in the Shell contract. "Colin Byrne advised them on that and he would be good to include in the conference call," she suggested. "Colin B also has a freelance consultant who is very hot on European environment issues and if the timing is right he might be involved," Luchtenberg wrote.
In January 2005 PR Week reported that Weber Shandwick had won the £350,000 account for Coca Cola Great Britain. Weber Shandwick senior vice-chairman David Yelland, the former editor of the Sun, has been designated Coke Great Britain's ‘chief media officer’ with the job of "rebuilding relations with the media, after last year’s Dasani fiasco." Colin Byrne will lead the team handling the account.
- Weber Shandwick, "Colin Byrne: CEO, Weber Shandwick UK and Ireland", accessed January 2005.
- Weber Shandwick, "Colin Byrne", accessed January 2005.
- Christopher Hope, "Sponsors give cold shoulder to Labour's conference call", Daily Telegraph, 27 September, 2004.
- Nicky Hager and Bob Burton, "Erasing the Writing on the Wall: Timberlands Censors Its Critics", PR Watch, volume 7, number 1, First Quarter 2000.
- Ravi Chandiramani, "Yelland in key role as WS nets Coke, PR Week, January 7, 2005.(Sub req'd)