TUESDAY 7 NOV 2017 5:17 PM


Remaining one of the most comprehensive insights into the PR and communications landscape, the annual CIPR National Conference took place last week at London’s prestigious British Library. Underpinning the growing need for practitioners to share experiences across the profession, this year’s conference was brimming with a host of industry experts. Yet the conference’s key theme highlighted the capacity for PR’s evolution, brought to life over the course of the day through a range of distinguished speakers.

Each of this year’s talks brought forward a unique and telling approach to the varied aspects of PR and communications, from countering crises and overcoming reputational damage to fostering future-facing tactics to strengthen the field. Across the course of the day, insights ranged from various sectors, including telecommunications, sports, retail and academia.

The conference began with Matt Peacock, group director of corporate affairs at Vodafone, discussing the gamut of ‘truth, integrity and trust.’ Navigating delegates through the company’s transparency challenges, Peacock specified a decline in modern day journalism, characterised in a stronger adherence to adept content strategy. Peacock’s bold approach worked to set the pace for the event, “Truth is the new spin. Hard, audited facts, simply explained persuade everybody.”

Taking a different approach to PR and communications, Richard Kenyon, director of marketing and communications at Everton FC, gave his morning talk on ‘The People’s Club,’ grounding many of the club’s core challenges in its long-established football-focus. Yet beyond fighting relegation and the return of the club’s star Wayne Rooney, Kenyon shared a host of in-house campaign stories that incorporated fans, players and staff all working together to define the club’s PR and communications strategy.

Jason MacKenzie, CIPR president, says, “From ‘CSR is dead’ to Dame Judi Dench rapping with Lethal Bizzle (albeit on video) this year’s conference was a knock-out. Bags of content, stimulating conversation – and great networking. A definite date for the diary in 2018.”

As further talks from the likes of Ben & Jerry’s and the University of Huddersfield specified the need for a remoulding and reshaping of the profession, the LADBible’s head of communications, Peter Heneghan shared some of the company’s most successful campaigns, including the promotion of a sustainability project that came to be known as the ‘Trash Isles’ and an amusing collaboration between grime artist, Lethal Bizzle and actress Judi Dench. Yet Heneghan’s talk brought into sharp focus the need for practitioners to think outside the box, exemplified in projects such as Edelman’s collaboration with Asics.