Meet the Team
Janet Priestley – Head of Press, PR and Communications
With a wealth of local government experience across a wide range of Birmingham City Council departments, Janet has been Head of Press, PR and Communications since August 2012.
In addition to the day-to-day running of the press office, she is responsible for internal communications, social media and external publications. She was previously Head of Communications for the Homes and Neighbourhoods Directorate, managing the team responsible for internal communications, external publications, marketing, event management and graphic design.
Janet first worked for the corporate media team in April 2000, rising to manage the department before moving on in March 2007. She has also worked as a business change manager for the Customer First Business Transformation programme.
Sarah Kirby – Press and PR Manager
Sarah has been in the city council press office since 2007, having cut her teeth in media relations at West Midlands Police. A former journalist, she is NCTJ qualified and worked as a senior reporter at the Express and Star, having trained at a weekly paper in Stafford.
She then ‘crossed the floor’ to become a press officer at West Midlands Police in 2001 before moving to Birmingham City Council. Her time at the council included an 18 month secondment with the Birmingham-based national illegal money lending team until she returned to the press office in 2010. She has covered virtually all aspects of council work, including the children and adults portfolios.
Kris Kowalewski – Press and PR Manager
Since then, he was worked his way through the ranks from an initial role of Assistant Media Officer to his current post as one of the press office’s two Press and PR Managers.
During his time at the council, Kris has worked on a wide range of portfolios and projects including children’s services, finance, climate change and community safety.
Debbie Harrison – Press and PR Officer
She has led high profile marketing and PR campaigns and worked on internal communications, external publications and events. Prior to her move she worked on educational and environmental issues along with events and projects from the council’s leisure portfolios.
Emma Brady – Press and PR Officer
Having held press and PR posts at Public Health England, Department of Health and the NHS, following a successful career at The Birmingham Post, she is well versed in the issues facing public sector organisations.
Jonathan Horsfall – Press and PR Officer
Jonathan joined the press office in May 2014, having previously worked in a PR role at a professional marketing agency where he had responsibility for a nationwide client base which included law firms, accountancy practices and care providers.
Prior to that, he enjoyed a successful career in journalism, working for daily and weekly newspapers in Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire, including time spent as news editor of the Burton Mail.
Geoff Coleman – Media and Digital Projects Officer
After learning his trade with weekly and daily newspapers in the Midlands, Geoff moved into new media in 1997 and went onto edit the websites of two Premier League football clubs (most recently Aston Villa’s)
He joined Birmingham City Council in late 2008 with a brief to improve online news provision – hence the launch of www.birminghamnewsroom.com a year later. He has since been instrumental in a number of digital projects, including the launch of the council’s webcasting service.
During his time at the council, Geoff has worked on a wide range of portfolios and currently works with the Public Health team.