Public Relations

Seven takeaways from the CIPR Conference 2018

The 2018 CIPR National Conference addressed the topics of ‘Accountable Leadership and Social Purpose’. 

Exploring responsible leadership, social purpose and how brands must work harder in today’s society to maintain legitimacy, the conference brought together a host of outstanding headline speakers, workshop sessions and networking opportunities. 

Here are my seven key takeaways from the event.

Your company must live and breathe its purpose.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast, but culture gets its appetite from purpose” explained John O’Brien, European Managing Partner of ONE HUNDRED.

A company’s purpose must be at the heart of everything that it does as an organisation, from senior management level to people on the ‘shop floor’. Without this, the purpose doesn’t have meaning or authenticity, it’s just words.

Molly Aldridge, Global CEO of M&C Saatchi PR, added that for purpose to be realised you must “bring the future forward, the inside out, and provoke action.”

Business conversations must be linked with societal conversations.

For brands to stay relevant, they need to be listening and responding to what is going on in the world around them, especially in the sectors in which they operate.

It’s not just about being the best.

“Be ambitious – be the best in the world but also the best for the world” explained Elizabeth Filippouli, Founder & CEO of the Global Thinkers Forum.

Your purpose should be about doing what you do best in your own way but also doing the best you can to support those around you and be the best for the world.

Actions speak louder than words.

When talking about reputation, Josh Hardie, Deputy Director-General at CBI said “If you behaved your way into it, you have to behave your way out, it’s not just a comms job.”No matter how good a job your communications team can do, actions and behaviours are essential in maintaining a good reputation. PR Directors should be advising companies at board level to ensure actions and communications are consistent.

Josh went on to explain “where people don’t understand what your business is doing, mistrust and misinformation fills that gap,” highlighting the importance of a coherent communications plan that is timely and through the correct channels.

The media landscape is evolving constantly.

Ian Macrae, Director of Market Intelligence at Ofcom, shared statistics on the usage of different media channels. PR professionals must be across these changes to stay relevant and reach target audiences. Here are some stats I found particularly interesting.

  • 12 to 15-year-olds are more likely to have heard of YouTube than ITV or BBC.
  • Around two-thirds (64%) of adults use the internet as a news source.
  • The average Facebook user spends 27 minutes per day on the platform.
  • The average adult in the UK uses their smartphone every 12 minutes.
  • Four in 10 people who use the internet mainly for news use social media as the main source.
  • Facebook is the third most used channel for news…
  • …but most people do not trust social media as a news outlet.

Read more in Ofcom’s Communications Market Report August 2018.


Professor Roger Steare, The Corporate Philosopher, gave a really powerful workshop entitled ‘How would you engage a high integrity, high performance organisation?’ As part of this, he shared a video which really resonated with me, demonstrating the true power of your actions.

He explained methods of making more positive changes in the workplace which, although seem small, can have a massive impact on the overall business.

For meetings, some advice that I took away with me to improve productivity: Rotate the chairperson in meetings to get new perspectives, ask people to play devil’s advocate and challenge ideas, ask someone to be an observer and share their thoughts on the meeting and ideas.

Become a disruptive collaborative company

Richard Walker, Managing Director of Iceland Foods Group was last to take to the podium. As well as discussing that Christmas advert ban, he gave advice on what it takes to become a disruptive, collaborative company.

  • Never underestimate what you can achieve.
  • Be curious.
  • Be decisive.
  • Be courageous.
  • Don’t fear failure.

And, his final words that really stood out to me on making a difference: “if you can mobilise enough people on an issue, then you can change the world.”

(And for the record, they didn’t know the Rang-tan Christmas advert was going to be banned and this wasn’t all an elaborate ruse. Richard said “I’m not that clever…”)

Richard Walker, Managing Director of Iceland Foods Group at the CIPR Conference 2018

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *