#CIPRConf2017: What I Learnt

IMG_3842On Tuesday, I was lucky enough to attend this year’s CIPR National Conference and represent Atom bank with my manager Katy. The trip was a huge success and not just because I found my way around London. But because I learnt so much from the event. The theme was ‘2020 Vision: Evolution of PR’, which is very fitting considering I work for a FinTech and the fast paced nature of the industry.  

There were so many interesting speakers who gave me a lot of insight, which I will definitely apply in my job at Atom. Jason MacKensie, President of the CIPR, gave us his introductory speech and challenged everyone to take at least one thing away from the day. So, here’s some of my highlights and what I learnt…

Matt Peacock, Vodafone

Matt Peacock is Group Director of Corporate Affairs at Vodafone. He explained how the company was accused of tax dodging and phone tapping and how they tackled it with “aggressive transparency”.

Vodafone released transparency reports on these issues and told the whole truth and nothing but the truth, laying everything on the line. This has never been done before and although it was risky, helped to protect Vodafone’s reputation.

It was the those three words throughout Matt’s speech that resonated with me: Truth, Transparency and Integrity. 3 words that are very important in the financial services and that are very important to Atom.

IMG_3774Matt also went on to talk about media integrity and shared Vodafone’s policy on protecting it. “The biggest challenge in PR between now and 2020 is the decline of serious journalism, not technology”.

This is something we all need to think about as PR practitioners and something Katy touched on in a previous post. The world doesn’t just rely on journalists to get their news stories out there. This makes our role in PR more difficult to cut through the fast paced ‘citizen journalism’ to get the attention and awareness we need.

IMG_3779Matt also left us with a useful reminder… “Everything goes wrong when you start from the bottom. Never start with the tactics.”

Kerry Thorpe, Ben and Jerry’s

Kerry’s speech was a real highlight for me and not just because of the hilarious ice cream puns. Their humorous and fun tone of voice came across brilliantly with their values of authenticity and transparency at the forefront. Kerry’s speech was so insightful and full of tips and tricks that I will take away and use in my role at Atom.


Kerry took us through examples of past campaigns including ‘If it’s melted it’s ruined’ to promote climate justice and is a great example which labels them as a brand with a social purpose.

IMG_3797As well as celebrate achievements, Kerry also taught us to celebrate failure. Because what worked then, may not work now and vice versa. The trick is to keep testing and evolving. They even have a flavours graveyard where flavours that didn’t work are laid to rest.

Peter Heneghan, LADBible Group

LADBible has undoubtedly had huge success as a social publisher and “with social power comes social responsibility”. Peter changed the audiences perception of LADBible and took us through campaigns that tackle very important social issues. Such as the creation of ‘Trash Isles’ to combat the amount of plastic in the Pacific Ocean, where they partnered with Plastic Oceans Foundation and submitted a Declaration of Independence to the United Nations to become a country. They have already received over 180,000 signatures on their petition.

Another partnership was with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution to reach the young male audience for their ‘Respect the Water’ campaign. A very hard hitting and powerful video, watch it here.

IMG_3811On a lighter note, Peter showed us THAT video where Dame Judy Dench dons a Lethal Bizzle cap and helps him rap one of his songs. Genius.

Peter also challenged that content isn’t always king and there are many other factors you need to consider….


Rachel Royall, NHS Digital

Rachel taught us that PR is all about relationships with the public and the value lies in conversations, power of stories and leadership: “communication is the sister of leadership”.


Rachel highlighted challenges for the NHS  with the sheer pace of technological change – they still use fax machines?! But Rachel also shared digital opportunities for the NHS such as human stories and innovation and leadership. She used their  ‘every nurse is an #enurse‘ campaign as a case study.  

Robyn De Villiers, Burson-Marsteller    

Robyn is CEO of Burson-Marsteller Africa and gave a gripping and powerful (and sometimes abrupt) speech on the Bell Pottinger, Oakbay scandal and the importance of ethical PR. It seemed very fitting to end the conference and the month on this note to mark the end of #EthicsFest. Robyn highlighted the need for a code of ethics, reinforcement and for us all to take a stand and say what we think.

She also finished the conference with this insightful quote…


This was my first ever experience of a CIPR conference and I have to say, it did not disappoint. I have taken away so much and would recommend the event to anyone. Bring on 2018! If you have any questions or views on any of the speakers, drop me a line below!


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