Burson boss and ‘public affairs legend’ Kevin Bell calls it a day
Retirement beckons for the man who doesn’t ‘do cheap’
Veteran Tory lobbyist Kevin Bell has announced his retirement after approaching 30 years in the public affairs industry.
Bell is to stand down from his post as worldwide president at Burson Cohn & Wolfe in June, staff were told in email on Wednesday.
"On behalf of everyone at BCW, we thank Kevin for his stellar contributions and wish him all the very best in his retirement... he has certainly earned it,” stated the note by Donna Imperato, chief executive of the newly merged firm.
Bell is a former Tory adviser under Margaret Thatcher who moved into public affairs in 1979. He was a founding director of legendary lobbying shop Westminster Strategy who also held senior posts at Fleishman Hillard and Maitland Political before moving to Burson Marsteller as global public affairs chair in 2014.
The heavyweight lobbyist is well-known in the industry as a staunch and often outspoken Conservative with a taste for the high life. He has a longstanding network of contacts on the right of the Tory party, regularly dines at The Ivy when in London and for many years held an annual summer party on the terrace of his riverside flat.
In an interview with Public Affairs News in 2015 Bell lamented that public affairs had become “too cheap” and “too commoditised” but insisted that he would not endorse any such approach at Burson Marsteller.
“We don’t do cheap. I like Bollinger. Anybody who comes to my flat knows I like Bollinger,” he said.
In her email to staff, Imperato also stated: "I want to personally thank Kevin for his wise counsel and collaborative partnership over the past few months. He has also been a strong and respected leader at Burson-Marsteller during his entire tenure and I know many of us will miss him."
Meanwhile BAE Systems public affairs chief Scott Dodsworth, paid tribute to his old boss at Fleishman Hillard. He said: “As public affairs legend, Kevin Bell retires from his global role at BCW, I wish him all the best for the future, he leads the pack of great mentors to me and many others.”