THURSDAY 19 NOV 2020 12:17 PM


CIPR’s national conference last week explored topics on the future media landscape, supporting professionals and the importance of internal communications, and how the increased value of PR to business experienced this year can be maintained long term.

Over 300 public relations and business professionals from around the world gathered online for CIPR’s first virtual national conference themed around communications leadership in the new world post-Covid-19.

The conference shed light on the increased value organisations have placed on communications because of Covid-19. In the team management and virtual working session, the director of comms, global brand and retail pharmacy at Walgreens Boots Alliance David MacDonald spoke about launching the new Retinol brand during Covid-19. Launching online forced the team to place a lot of importance on PR and communications and made them rethink the way the company related to media and consumers.

“We completely redesigned the way to launch the product internally, doubled the amount of internal content for our colleagues and kept the beauty advisers in the loop. Covid taught us to turn every stone to find different content and understand how consumer behaviour has changed during lockdown,” he says.

Another focus of the conference was staff wellbeing during the pandemic. With most people working away from their teams and others put on furlough indefinitely, employee mental wellbeing has been at the heart of internal communications since the start of the pandemic. Some of the solutions discussed in the panel to ensure staff wellbeing include mid-week pick me ups, set clear boundaries between work and home, have wellness action plans ready for moments of burnout and routine catch ups to counter the feelings of isolation.

Describing the impact on employees’ wellbeing and mental health Emma Mamo, Mind’s head of workplace wellbeing, said “We've all been in the same storm, but we’ve not all been in the same boat.”

During the wellbeing panel discussion Annique Simpson change communications business partner at housing group A2Dominion stressed the importance of being honest and transparent with employees in communicating bad news. Her research shows that delaying negative news harms employee engagement and morale so it’s best to cut straight through even if it means being the bearer of bad news. Employees will not shoot the messenger bur rather be grateful to be able to make an informed decision.

Anna Russell head of stakeholder management and communications at Manchester Airport also emphasised the need to take a seat at the table with the top business administrators to ensure that good communication standards are met and that the information given to employees today holds up in months-time.


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/Ardfern