Highlights from the CIPR National Conference 2017

On Tuesday, I attended the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ National Conference 2017. Its theme was the evolution of the public relations industry. All speakers really shone on the stage and presented us astute insights. I decided to sum up a few keynotes.

Scott Mcleod of Everton FC

Scott Mcleod, who is Head of Engagement at “The People’s Club”, gave a fascinating talk on the power of community. As it turns out, the fans of Everton FC are one of the most engaged football supporters in the globe. They interact with the club on social media even more than fans of the clubs with much bigger social followings.

He emphasised that their mission is “to make Evertonians proud to be blue”. They strive to stay authentic, determined, ambitious, and they want to be a club that stands together.

Scott also presented us the case study on what the club is doing for the local community and beyond. Some examples are really impressive. They’re ranging from the “Why Everton?” campaign, in which a Bosnian fan chose to support Everton after emailing all Football League clubs, to the story of a nine-year-old fan with cerebral palsy winning the Goal of the Month competition.

Kerry Thorpe of Ben & Jerry’s


I’ve had a chance to listen to Kerry Thorpe‘s keynote last year and I found her to be an incredibly captivating speaker. The European Ben & Jerry’s Communications Lead’s engaging presenting style didn’t disappoint this year either. Her, full of puns, talk delivered a lot of insights to the audience of this year’s Conference.

We learnt a lot about the importance of succinct copy and authenticity. Ben and Jerry’s “If it’s melted, it’s ruined” is still a relevant example of the brilliantly executed social purpose campaign, even two years after its launch.

Apart from the tasty puns and the history of Ben and Jerry, we’ve heard some unmissable pieces of advice from Kerry, including “Do TEN things, talk about THREE.” She has also emphasised on celebration of failure, which can give us a lesson for the future.

Peter Heneghan of LADBible Group


I’ve had a chance to meet LADbible Group’s head of communications Peter Heneghan — back then comms chief for BuzzFeed — before and I always enjoyed getting insights from him on the new media. On the CIPR Conference this year, he spoke about important role LADbible plays in today’s media landscape.

Peter has undoubtedly changed the perception of the LADbible across the audience, showing platform’s work on social responsibility. This included creating the Trash Isles, as their way of tackling plastic epidemic in our planet. Another piece which was showcased was LADbible’s partnership with Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which tackled the male dominated statistics in relation to accidents in UK coastal waters.

PR head of the LADbible has also confronted the common saying that “content is king”, admitting that it’s all about the audience.

Rachel Royall of NHS Digital


Director of Comms for the NHS Digital, Rachel Royall, got up the stage, saying that she has the best job in the world. She got into explaining her role and we learnt a lot about the organisation.

Rachel stressed that the value of PR lies in conversations, power of stories, and leadership. She has also shed some light on the challenges on the NHS Digital — both from technological and perceptional standpoint. Rachel highlighted that there are a lot of opportunities for communicators in the human stories, innovation, as well as leadership.

Also, did you know that the NHS is the biggest buyer of fax machines?

This one-day Conference has been a real treat for anyone working in the communications industry. All speakers were shrewd and insights they shared were invaluable. In his introductory speech, the President of the CIPR, Jason MacKenzie, appealed to the audience to take away something from the event. I surely learnt a lot and it gave me a lot of food for thought.


A huge thank you to Ella Minty and the CIPR.

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