Dominic Fry

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Dominic Fry is the Director of Tulchan Communications and is active in PR industry lobby groups and networking bodies (the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, the Arthur W. Page Society), in groups promoting Corporate Social Responsibility (for example, Business in the Community) and other lobbying/PR organisations such as the Scottish Parliament Business Exchange and Editorial Intelligence. He has had a long involvement in corporate PR, moving from one large corporation to the next.

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Fry worked for AT&T as head of communications in the UK in 1990. In 1995 he became Communications Director of Eurotunnel, [1] moving in a year to become group communications director Sainsbury’s for four years. Three months after being ousted from that job he landed the corporate affairs director post at Scottish Power in 2000. Fry replaced Sue Clark, who left the company to become director of corporate affairs at Railtrack. Fry was sacked from Scottish Power in late 2005 as part of the company restructuring in the run-up to its subsequent takeover by Iberdrola. In 2006 Fry and others set up Tulchan Communications. In March 2009, Fry was appointed head of comms at Marks & Spencer, replacing Flic Howard-Allen who joined Hill & Knowlton as senior client services director. [2] [3]

Views on PR

Fry has stated that PR plays a key role in the managing the image of a company like Scottish Power, "provided you act responsibly on areas such as fuel poverty and disconnection". [4]

An article for PR Week notes, "Fry places a great emphasis on corporate social responsibility and points to action the firm took following a storm in 1998 that cut off 160,000 consumers: The £20m repair programme that followed involved close consultation and building community facilities." Fry is quoted as saying, “It's not about face painting or opening village fetes.... It is bottom line business benefits that I can justify to the board. It's about long-term partnership at the point of need in the community.” Fry is also quoted as saying that Scottish Power has the best 'green' tariffs in the sector, with big investments in wind farms and hydropower, along with tree planting schemes. [5]

Fight the Power

Fry joined Scottish Power plc in the summer of 2000 and was responsible for the group’s internal and external communications. He also heads the company’s sponsorship and charitable initiatives and its community involvement. Scottish Power was awarded Business in the Community’s coveted Company of the Year, in July 2002.

In 2008 Scottish Power was one of the "big six" energy companies accused of exploiting the poor by charging them more for power than those who can afford to pay through direct debit. [6] So how should we understand the fact that the company won the Business in the Community award of ‘Company of the Year’? [7]

By one of those odd PR coincidences, Fry is also a communications advisor to the board of Business in the Community. In June 2002, Fry led Scottish Business in the Community’s first rural “Seeing is Believing” visit to three communities in the Scottish Borders. [8]

Fry is clear about the business case for Corporate Social Responsibility:

"Everything we do gets measured and my bonus and remuneration is tied to my performance. I don't think you can justify your seat at the top table unless you are accountable, and you can demonstrate that you are contributing to the business." [9]

Scottish Power also connected to Business in the Community by having them measure and assess the company’s work. According to Fry:

The social impact study (conducted by Business in the Community's Advisory Service) has proved essential in taking an objective look at all our work in this area, demonstrating best practice and providing insightful recommendations. The study is of the highest order and will serve Scottish Power's corporate social responsibility well now and into the future. [10]

Fry was ousted as Scottish Power's director of corporate communications in 2005 as part of a £60 million cost-saving plan. [11] The restructuring plan also saw the departure of Charles Berry, the head of the group's UK power generation and retail businesses. [12] The cost-cutting operation was carried out in anticipation of news that German utility giant E.on could be on the verge of making a bid for the company. [13]

Restructuring Scottish Power

The Scotsman reports:

In September of 2005, Scottish Power's former Chief Executive Ian Russell was faced with a growing threat from the stock market as Scottish Power's shares had recently soared causing rumours of its German rival, and owner of Powergen, E.ON wanting to buy the company. After meeing with the chairman, Charles Miller Smith, and the finance director, Simon Lowth, it was decided that a major restructuring had to take place - one that involved getting rid of two of his top executives - David Nish and Charles Berry. Along with these sackings, the human resources director, Mike Pittman, and the communications chief, Dominic Fry were dismissed as well. Mr. Russell's explanation referred back to late May when Scottish Power announced the £5.1 billion sale of its giant US business PacifiCorp to the world-famous entrepreneur Warren Buffet. PacifiCorp was responsible for two-thirds of Scottish Power's valuation, which meant that the company would become much smaller when the deal went through. The idea of the restructuring was to slim down the group - stripping out the four directors in the process - preparing it for life as a smaller, independent, predominantly UK-based utility. However, Mr. Russell did not mention that the group's smaller size was what had attracted E.ON's attention or that the downsizing was threatening the independence of one of Scotland's biggest companies. To this day, Mr. Russell has yet to publicly link the two events - despite the asking of questions in parliament. Neither did he bring up the £9 million in shares, pension payments and other incentives he could make from a deal. Later that same day, E.ON confirmed that it was considering its options regarding a possible takeover of Scottish Power. [14]

After leaving Scottish Power Fry went on to found Tulchan Communications in 2006.

PR industry role

With his involvement in the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, Fry contributes to its mission to be "the eyes, ears and voice of the public relations industry" [15]. He is a member of its Professional Practices Committee, which regulates its members’ professional behaviour through a "Code of Conduct" and by handing out awards.[16]

Fry is a trustee of the Arthur W Page Society, an elite networking membership organisation for senior public relations operatives who "seek to enrich and strengthen their profession". To join, an individual's company has to have generated at least $2 billion in annual revenues. [17]

The Society is named after Arthur W. Page, the legendary PR pioneer. Page is lauded by both PR industry sources and by some PR industry friendly academics (such as James Grunig), who have maintained that he was the ethical part of the industry as compared with the better known figures such as Edward Bernays and Ivy Lee. [18] Such arguments are hardly supported by an examination of Page’s actual career.

Page was a former vice president of AT&T and a member of the boards of directors of the Chase Bank, Westinghouse, Kennecott Copper, and Continental Oil. He was a founder of the Free Europe Committee, which, among other things, created the (CIA-funded) propaganda outlet Radio Free Europe. Page "was summoned to Washington in 1945 by his friend, Henry Stimson, the Secretary of War. His task, as it turned out, was to prepare President Truman's announcement of the atomic bomb."[19]

In addition, as David Miller notes in his essay, "Public Relations as a Conspiracy Against Democracy"[20]:

even using the evidence in the hagiographical biography of Arthur Page by Noel Griese it is difficult to discern the ethical pioneer of PR. To give only one example: Griese notes the role of Page in subverting trades union demands for improved conditions in Chile in 1946. Among other things Page advised the mine owners to demand the recall of the US ambassador as insufficiently supportive and to pressure US financial institutions to withhold investment in Chile. He followed up by contacting his friends in the international financial institutions to encourage them to deny loans to Chile. The owners’ interests were bolstered by US government pressure on the Chilean government which 'outlawed the communist party and removed 30,000 voters with communist affiliations from voting roles'.[21]

The society itself is headed by President Thomas R. Martin of ITT Industries, the company which helped to remove from office the democratically elected president Salvador Allende of Chile.[22]


Alcohol badge.jpg This article is part of the Spinwatch public health oriented Alcohol Portal project.


  1. 'Speaker Profiles: Dominic Fry', in the Community website, accessed 23 April, 2009.
  2. Alec Mattinson, 'M&S brings in Tulchan's Dominic Fry', PR Week, 27 March, 2009. (Accessed 23 April, 2009)
  3. Alec Mattinson, 'High-profile comms job at M&S for Fry', PR Week, 1 April, 2009. (Accessed 23 April, 2009)
  4. "Dominic Fry", in "Archive for the Editorial Intelligence category", PinkIndustry, 3 December, 2007, accessed October, 2008.
  5. Simon Ellery, 'Energy Firms try to curb cynicism', PR Week, 18 February, 2005.
  6. Nicola McCafferty, "Energy more expensive for the poor", Daily Express, 6 March, 2008, accessed October, 2008.
  7. The link here has a long list of disgruntled customers. A sample comment reads, “I have never willingly been with Scottish Power, but somehow over the past 3 years my fuel supply accounts have migrated to them of (apparently) their own accord.” Scottish Power is the only supplier to have decreased its average customer satisfaction score. Major Energy
  8. 'Speaker Profiles: Dominic Fry', in the Community website, accessed 23 April, 2009.
  9. 'FEW COMPANIES HAVE PR AT THE TOP - AT THEIR PERIL', website, accessed 23 April, 2009.
  10. Accessible on the Internet Archive: Business in the Community Recent assignments, accessed 11 September, 2007.
  11. Michael Harrison, "ScottishPower ousts two board directors in £60m cost-saving plan", The Independent, 7 September, 2005, accessed 14 April, 2009.
  12. Iain Dey, Blood-letting at the top, BUSINESS FOCUS, Scotland on Sunday, 11 September, 2005, accessed in web archive 14 April, 2009.
  13. Iain Dey, Blood-letting at the top, BUSINESS FOCUS, Scotland on Sunday, 11 September 2005, accessed in web archive 14 April, 2009.
  14. John Bowker and Sharon Ward, 'Battle to keep ScottishPower in Scotland', Scotsman, 8 September, 2005. (Accessed 23 April, 2009)
  15. 'About the CIPR and the PR Industry', CIPR website, accessed 23 April, 2009.
  16. Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Excellence Awards - 1 February, 2006
  17. Arthur W. Page Society website
  18. Miller, D., "Public Relations as a Conspiracy Against Democracy", in A Complicated, Antagonistic and Symbiotic Affair: Journalismm, Public Relations and Their Struggle for Public Attention, edited by Bernd Merkel, Stephan Russ-Mohl and Giovanni Zavaritt, Lugano, Universita Della Svizzera Italiana, 2007, pp. 153-160.
  19. Edward M. Block Senior Vice President (retired) American Telephone & Telegraph, The Legacy of Public Relations Excellence Behind the Name, accessed 24 September, 2008
  20. "Public Relations as a Conspiracy Against Democracy", Miller, D. in A Complicated, Antagonistic and Symbiotic Affair: Journalism, Public Relations and Their Struggle for Public Attention, Bernd Merkel, Stephan Russ-Mohl and Giovanni Zavaritt (eds) Lugano: Universita Della Svizzera Italiana, 2007, pp. 153-160
  21. Noel Grise, Arthur W. Page: Publisher, Public Relations Practitioner, Patriot, Anvil Publishers, Tucker, Georgia, 2001., p304
  22. The ITT Story, Part II Brian Trumbore President/Editor,, accessed 11 September, 2007.