Learning from the Best at our Crisis Comms Event

Our recent event, hosted in Leeds, was centred around crisis communications and what to do when your brand is facing a crisis. We had the pleasure of listening to two amazing talks from experts in communications who spoke in depth about their experiences dealing with a brand crisis.
The first talk was given by Rachael Pearson. As a former Morrisons Internal Communications employee turned freelance writer, Rachael has seen her fair share of PR crises. Her presentation embodied the five core rules that should be applied to any crisis.

  1. Channels – In any form of crisis you need to get in touch with the right people to rectify the situation. However, it is vital you use the right channels. She provided first-hand experience of the Morrisons data breach crisis. To handle this event, they created an entirely new channel in the form of an employee Facebook page, where management could coordinate with team members quickly and efficiently.
  2. Research & Review – When a business is facing a crisis, the comms team needs to create a solution. To do so, they need to review the entire situation and assess all the details.
  3. IC & PR – Both the PR and Internal Communications teams must work together throughout a crisis. They must ensure that a clear unified message is being given to both employers and external stakeholders.
  4. Message – Once a company has established a defined message that they would like to relay, they must ensure to release it as soon as possible as silence can be deadly.
  5. Use Your Values – When a business is establishing a PR crisis plan, they must ensure the response is in line with their brand. She presented a great example of KFC’s response to their chicken shortage, producing a funny but sincere apology to their customers in a channel that research showed their key customers used most frequently.

Our next presentation was given by Toby Higgins, Senior Communications Manager for Network Rail.
Running the comms for the Network Rail is no small feat! Toby explained how any unsafe scenarios that places either a passenger or driver at risk, is considered a crisis to their company. Interestingly, the UK has the safest railway in Europe, so anything that could harm this reputation needs to be dealt with immediately.
He presented the Flying Scotsman crisis which was one the largest crises the Network Rail has faced over the last 10 years. This was a charity project to restore the iconic train for a nationwide tour. However, on the first departure from King Cross, it was brought to a grinding halt as bystanders had begun walking on the tracks to get a better view on the train. The halt of that train alone costs £80,000 in paybacks due to the delays in other journeys.
Many other companies may have ended the project there and then, however, the Network Rail comms team decided that would be even more damaging to the brand. They ran a crisis comms campaign for a year and a half preceding the original departure to ensure no incidents occurred during the nationwide trip. Alongside this, he explained the comms strategy that they have in place for predictable eventualities, e.g. bridges collapsing. The team trains and practices this strategy ever year to ensure when a crisis occurs, they are prepared.

The session was finished with an engaging Q&A session chaired by IABC board member and founder of Halston Marketing, Georgia Halston. There was a clear level of intrigue as both speakers were quizzed on their talks and our delegates probed a little deeper into the processes carried out in both instances.
Drinks and canapes, as well as a little networking bookended the evening.

If you’re interested in joining our events in the future, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

We’re Partnering with Marketing Show North

We are delighted to announce our media partnership with Marketing Show North—the biggest ever gathering of marketing companies, vendors & suppliers held outside London.

Held in Manchester, the northern exhibition event will feature the biggest names in the marketing industry with seminars, expert speakers, networking rooms, workshops, demos and more across five theatres.

The two-day expo will take place at EventCity on 27 & 28 February 2019. It will feature up to 120 exhibitors showcasing the very best in marketing platforms, tools and services. It will provide buyers with an opportunity to meet and network with prospective suppliers and learn about the latest industry innovations and technologies.

As well as hundreds of exhibitors offering invaluable insights into their businesses, the exhibition will also feature speakers from leading Northern brands including our IABC representative, Georgia Halston, who will be hosting a stall for her B2B marketing and corporate communications agency, Halston Marketing.

We’re looking forward to offering our partnership with the two companies pulling the strings behind the scenes, Prolific North and Don’t Panic Events.

IABC Event – Rápido!

To kick-off 2019, the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) invites you to come along to one of our world-famous Rápido events on 30 January.

For those of you that haven’t been to a Rápido before, we arrange a line-up of fantastic speakers and, to keep it lively, they are only allowed to speak for five minutes each on a communications-related topic. Keeping the speakers in line and to time will be our compere for the evening, former President of IABC UK, Stephen Welch.

Topics confirmed:

  • The future is dead, long live the future! – Ezri Carlebach
  • People don’t care. And it’s up to us to fix it – Matt Frost
  • Get over yourself – three catastrophic ways your ego gets in the way – Belinda Gannaway
  • Communicators do more than communicate – Daniel Schraibman
  • The power of followership – Stuart Preston
  • Are you talking to Spock or Homer Simpson? – Jennifer Marsden

This Rápido is being held at Truckles Wine Bar in London. Tickets are free for IABC members and £10 for non-members which includes a drink and nibbles.

Doors open at 6pm and the event will start at 6.30pm.


Ezri Carlebach: Ezri is a consultant, writer and lecturer with a background leading multidisciplinary comms teams in FTSE 100, non-profit, and government organisations. He has been vegan for nearly 10 years, but has never had a Gregg’s vegan sausage roll.

Matt Frost: Matt has nearly 20 years’ experience working with organisations of all shapes, sizes and sectors. His expertise is in developing communication strategies to craft, enhance and deliver compelling employee experiences. Matt’s passion for clear, honest and creative communication has helped some of world’s leading organisations successfully engage their employees at an emotional and intellectual level. In recent years he’s been heavily involved in a number of high profile cultural and change management programs – in the UK, Europe and US. He is viewed as a trusted advisor to company boards, executive teams, unions and management teams and advises on appropriate communications strategies to achieve desired results – whether that is cultural alignment, employee performance or reward participation.

Belinda Gannaway: Belinda is quite loud, nearly always enthusiastic and talks too much. She is strategy director of Fathom XP, a creative network specialising in employer brand and engagement. For fun you can usually find her outdoors. With a background in journalism, PR, marketing and more recently digital transformation, she’s helped to supercharge capability and change programmes for Diageo, Nectar and Jaguar Land Rover among others.

Daniel Schraibman: Daniel helps companies build successful relationships, manage change and deal with crises. He has also bought millions of pounds of sound systems for Land Rover, worked as a journalist in Ghana and is writing a book about his time on a travelling funfair in the US. For more information, here’s his LinkedIn.

Stuart Preston: Stuart joined IDG in 2015, he is responsible for the identification, design, delivery and evaluation of bespoke leadership development programmes. Stuart has led teams in front line commercial roles and as a service provider worked with senior managers to develop individual and organisational capabilities. He has a Certificate in Return on Investment (Jack Philips methodology), Certificate in Coaching (Cognitive Behavioural Techniques), Certificate in Sales Management. He is also a Trained Emotional Intelligence user. He began his career by passing out of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and spent 5 years as an officer in the British Army. Clients appreciate Stuart’s innovative but pragmatic approach to development which focuses on behavioural and organisation change that delivers improved performance.

Jennifer Marsden: Jenny has the small task of managing reputation for the energy company, Shell, specifically in New Business Development and Exploration. This requires a combination of impact management, media and community relations. If Shell is buying a business, selling it, leaving or entering a region – Jen is likely somewhere nearby. She has worked on projects across the globe from Alaska to Sakhalin, but these days focusses most of her time on Shell’s new renewables department – Shell New Energies, in particular Offshore Wind. As a Biological Sciences graduate with a Diploma in PR she is passionate about responsible reporting of science. In her spare time she enjoys singing, sailing (only old boats, no ‘plastic’ ones) and skiing.

Pricing: all tickets include first drink and nibbles. Additional drinks can be purchased by guests on the night.


Tickets available here

How can communicators survive in the new corporate world? – IABC UK introduces Bushcraft for Communicators

Inspired by their experiences as consultants and specialists in organisational change, employee engagement and leadership, Mike Pounsford and Stephen Welch have joined forces to create Bushcraft for Communicators.


As traditional approaches in marketing and strategic communications don’t seem to work in the new corporate world, Welch and Pounsford have devised 12 tools to help communicators navigate this new landscape. The pair use the bushcraft analogy to show how to be more agile and move faster to face the challenges encountered in the ‘bush’.


During an interactive event in London conducted by the two IABC UK past presidents, attendees had the opportunity to get a taste of how bushcraft tools can help communication professionals facing periods of uncertainty at their organisations.


The starting point


In a time when things can appear to be moving too quickly and changes arise unexpectedly, communicators and leaders need to ask where they are heading.


According to Welch and Pounsford, organisations need to be prepared if they want to survive in this new landscape, which is influenced by so many different factors. And how can they do that? By acknowledging where they are and where they want to go. However, the real challenge here is getting people to a common destination, while keeping in mind everyone’s journey will be different. As Pounsford says, ‘Not everyone departs from the same starting point’.


In order to reach sustained change, leaders shouldn’t focus on the process or the journey, but on the destination. They need to understand that it’s not only the leadership’s perspective that matters. it’s also importenat to pay attention to other employees’ points of view when they ask the big question: where do we want to go?

Good leaders, those who bet on sustained change, will know they have succeeded when they reach common consensus on the destination.


As Welch explained during the event, ‘HQs tend to remain in their little bubble of the world, and for them it will seem very simple. But, actually, their view of the world may not be shared by the rest of the organisation, who have different perspectives on how changes should be implemented or the journey to follow to achieve those new results’. Welch also maintains that communicators have a key role to play in devising a new strategy to bring about change in an organisation, encouraging them to ‘remind leaders they’re not the centre of the universe’.


The trust formula


Whether it is a business transaction or a friendship, trust plays an essential role in developing a relationship. Within strategic communications, a trusting relationship contains three key elements:


  • R: the results obtained or business outcome (what benefit will I obtain from this?)
  • US: mutual understanding and support (what is the relationship based on?)
  • T: low levels of risk (how will you reduce possible threats?).


When it comes to building long-term relationships with different stakeholders, the Trust Tool created by Welch and Pounsford helps communicators. The tool assesses how much effort communicators put into each element and outlines what can be done to raise their profile as a trusted specialist or consultant. For example:


  • To improve R: focus on solutions and results, show you understand the other person’s perspective and their world, listen and give feedback, show confidence in your skills.
  • To enhance US: share a social element, show empathy and put yourself in the other person’s shoes, find common ground and shared values, be generous with information and connections, be willing to learn more about them, do not forget about the power of face-to-face meetings.
  • To reduce T: provide examples of what you can do, do great work and solve problems, be visible and show commitment, demonstrate you are reliable, be responsible and available, give endorsements (mouth to mouth recommendations), show honesty.


Find out more about Bushcraft for Communicators and how you can apply these tools to your organisation.


By Alexandra R. Cifre


IABC Event – Defining Communications Excellence

Join us on Wednesday 12 December 8.00–9.30am for Defining Communications Excellence, a breakfast event for communicators.

Whether or not you’re planning to enter the 2019 Gold Quill Awards, this event will be incredibly useful to anyone in corporate or internal communications. We’ll be joined by a panel of experts who’ll share their insights, and a number of strategies and tools to help you plan and develop communications that are truly world-class.

The event is being hosted by Instinctif Partners at their central London office.



  • Meaningful Measurement – a key ingredient for communications success. Our panel will explain how to include SMART goals and objectives within your communications plans
  • Gold Quill Winning Case Study – an in-depth look at Tarmac’s award-winning communications strategy and plan
  • Recognition – how to get your hard-work recognised both within and outside your organisation and bench-marked against your peers’ work globally.
  • Final word – the event will close with an interactive session where our experts will address any additional questions in small groups or individually.


Confirmed Speakers:

Kate Jones, Head of Communications & Corporate Affairs, Tarmac
Neil Griffiths, ABC, Chart.PR, Senior Manager, Global Communication at ERM
Ezri Carlebach, consultant, writer, lecturer
Howard Krais, President, IABC UK Chapter



Tickets include breakfast and are free to IABC members* and cost £20 for non members.

Please are limited so please register now to secure your place.

Tickets available here.


About our Speakers:

Kate Jones is an award-winning internal communications specialist with 25 years’ experience, both agency and in-house, across a range of industries. She is elected Chair of the Institute of Internal Communication, an IoIC Fellow and was named IoIC Internal Communicator of the Year 2016. Twitter: @how_IC_it

Ezri Carlebach is a writer, lecturer, and consultant with over 20 years’ experience in corporate communications, public relations, and internal comms. He has worked for government, non-profit, and FTSE 100 organisations, and now splits his time between Turin, Brussels, and London with a variety of clients. He is also Visiting Lecturer in Public Relations at the University of Greenwich.

Neil Griffiths, ABC, Chart.PR is Senior Manager, Global Communication at ERM, the world’s largest sustainability consultancy. Neil is an advocate of professional standards in communication and has been a part of some of IABC’s flagship efforts in this area, such as the Career Roadmap Committee, the Global Communication Certification Council and World Conference. Neil has been Gold Quill evaluator and/or EMENA evaluation panel chair for almost 10 years.

Howard Krais is this year’s IABC UK President. With over 25 years as a communicator under his belt, both in senior in house and consulting roles. Howard currently leads communication for Johnson Matthey’s Clean Air division.


Cancellation policy:

For paid tickets you may nominate someone to attend in your place if you can no longer attend. Otherwise the following applies:
100% refund if cancelled >14 days in advance
50% refund if cancelled 2-13 days in advance
No refund if cancelled within 24 hours of the event.