Former Cathay Pacific PR lead, David Bell, dies at 79

David Bell, a longtime corporate media relations executive and the former head of Cathay Pacific’s PR, died on 2 April in Sydney after a short illness. He was 79-years-old.

Bell accepted a promotions role with Tasman Empire Airways (which would soon become Air New Zealand) in the mid 1960s, after finishing high school at Melbourne’s Camberwell High School.

He moved to Auckland for the job, and commenced a long and successful career in corporate media relations, leading to the Cathay Pacific role.

Air New Zealand relocated him to Hong Kong to promote its new presence there, but then wanted to relocate him back to Auckland. Bell was unhappy with this, but while juggling an additional role as the PR contact for the Hong Kong Tourist Association, he was approached by Swire Group, Cathay Pacific’s parent company, to head up its new media relations section.

It wasn’t a done deal yet, though. Bell flew to London to convince the board he was the right person for the job, confiding later in a published farewell that the interview was one of his scariest moments.

Later, Bell reprised his role as the airline’s PR head, based in Sydney, from 2000 to 2011.

All up, he spent almost 25 years at Swire, expanding its PR department and becoming known for his tact and diplomacy. These characteristics were singled out in condolence messages following his death, read out at his Macquarie memorial service.

He died in Greenwich hospital and is survived by his wife Siew – who was an Air New Zealand colleague – sons Nick and Richard, daughter Caroline, and 16-month-old grandson Jack.

With AAP


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