What Makes “Fake News”, Fake News- By Mike Pounsford, IABC UK President, 2017-2018


Fake News is in the news, but what makes it fake?

On November 28 IABC UK met with a mix of members and guests to discuss the challenges and issues raised by Fake News.


Facilitated by the superb and provocative Ezri Carlebach people heard from five speakers for five minutes each.


  • Jane Mitchell, a specialist on business ethics, talked about the age-old problem of spin and its counterproductive impact on people within and outside organisations. But deeper than this she looked at the cultures that generate misinformation and the cost of unethical practices citing Volkswagen’s cumulative costs from “Diesel gate” at approximately $30billion


  • I talked about the difficulty of knowing what is true and what is not when our brains can make snap judgements and easily deceive us. Using visual illusions to illustrate how the brain works, and as a metaphor for cognitive bias, highlighted how the same information can lead to widely differing reports depending upon what people want to hear. I finished by talking about strategies to mitigate bias including checking sources and gaining alternative perspectives.


  • Jenni Field, Chair of CIPR Inside pointed out that Fake news is nothing new but that verification is essential now that internal communication can rapidly spread to external audiences. Jenni talked about the ethical responsibility professional communicators have, their role as enablers of effective conversations and their potential to act as the voice of authenticity to strengthen the employer brand.


  • Kevin Read used to be Executive Chairman & Partner of Engage by Bell Pottinger. He majored on the impact of digital communication, the difficulty of separating truth from fiction and how digital soundbites lack filters and context.


  • Finally, Dr. Barbara Gibson from Birkbeck University had the room hooting with laughter as she told stories about her early childhood and exposure to high religion, full of dubious claims. In today’s world, she highlighted the preponderance of “fakery” and the amplification of false news via social media, ending with a truth twister’s tongue twister that had the whole room mucking about with fakery – you get the drift!


The night was as much about networking, connecting, fun and refreshments as it was about the subject of Fake News. But my thoughts on what we discussed include:


  • Fake news is not new – it has been with us since we were first able to communicate with each other
  • It has become so problematic because of the communication tools we now have which spread misinformation at lightning speed and vast scale.
  • We are unable to identify “truth” because we are all subject to cognitive bias, often unconscious. Working with others, diverse inputs, second opinions, checking audience expectations and understanding are more important than ever


Shortly before the evening, Oxford Circus in London witnessed panic caused by false information about supposed gunfire in London Underground, spread rapidly by twitter. Shortly afterwards Donald Trump retweeted anti-Islamic propaganda.


The information people spread, whatever their motivation, may be false. There is nothing fake about the threats and dangers posed by this behaviour.


Mike Pounsford

IABC UK President 2017- 2018

Membership Month Profiles – Miguel Cortez

October is IABC membership month. In line with this, we have gathered insights from select IABC members on how the organization has helped them in their respective careers.

Mr. Miguel Cortez – International Student

Miguel Cortez is a Full Time Masters in Public Relations student at the London College of Communication (LCC).

Over the years, IABC UK has offered a mentoring program for students in select universities in the United Kingdom. LCC is one among a handful of institutions which the IABC has had a fruitful partnership with.  Through this, Miguel has managed to broaden his perspective and hone his communication skills through working closely with a variety of respected industry professionals. He is also a member of the 2017-2018 IABC UK Board of Directors.

“Working in communications for over a decade has helped me understand the value of establishing relationships with industry professionals at all levels.  IABC UK has helped my development through giving me access to networking opportunities and consultations with industry experts. This is vital both for students looking to kick start their careers, and students with more working experience who want to prepare themselves for more significant responsibilities.”

Miguel further shared that he has felt enriched by his involvement with the IABC, and that he feels more confident about reaching greater heights professionally, in the future.

“My IABC UK mentor and others in the organization have graciously shared their time and knowledge with me. IABC UK has made it possible for me to pair my scholastic experience as a postgraduate student with professional skills development through exposure to truly global industry perspectives. It’s been an amazing learning experience thus far. I now feel better equipped to face the challenges associated with taking on higher profile communication roles in the future. Furthermore, I now feel confident about being able to make a positive impact on society with my talents.”

For more information on IABC UK membership, and links to other key facets of the organization, visit https://iabcemena.com/uk/how-to-join/.


Future Fit Communications: Our speakers

mikeMichael Ambjorn, Founder, AlignYourOrg

Michael Ambjorn is founder of Align Your Org, and passionate about helping changemakers achieve purpose-driven impact. Michael is also International Chair of IABC, the International Association of Business Communicators, and he is the facilitator for IABC’s 2014–17 strategy. Michael has held leadership roles at IBM, Motorola and the 260–year–old Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce (RSA), where he remains an active Fellow.




babuAshish Babu, Director of Communications – UK & Europe, Tata Consultancy Services

Ashish is responsible for creating and implementing communications programmes across 21 countries. With special focus towards enterprise and consumer technology, he has developed award-winning campaigns such as ElectUK mobile app and the #TCSsuperheroes narrative. Prior to TCS, Ashish was also an integral part of the launch team at Tata Sky (Newscorp & Tata JV) where he developed and implemented a nationwide communications strategy and has held senior roles with global PR agencies when in India.




ezriEzri Carlebach, consultant, writer, lecturer

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.




coniKeith Coni, Deputy Director of Capability, Standards & Professional Development, Cabinet Office

Keith led on professional capability for the Government Communications Service (GCS) from March 2015 until April 2016. In this time he introduced a cross-GCS skills survey, covering 4,000 communicators. Prior to this he ran a GCS programme of communication and marketing capability reviews. Keith’s previous roles in government include head of campaigns at Change4Life with the Dept of Health and Cabinet Office Transparency communications. Before joining the Civil Service he was a group account director at McCann-Erickson London, where he worked for seven years on global and national business.




crookLesley Crook, Internal Digital Strategy Advisor, Enterprise Strategies

Lesley is a digital client adviser at Enterprise Strategies where she designs digital transformation frameworks that decrease email dependency. Prior to joining Enterprise Strategies, Lesley was Internal Digital Communication Manager at GSK where she worked in partnership with IT to deliver many global digital projects. Lesley is experienced in social media, intranet governance, reward & recognition programmes and events management.




gayGay Flashman, Founder and CEO, Formative Content

Gay is the Founder and CEO of Formative Content, a fast-growing content marketing agency helping corporate clients around the world develop and share high quality content about their businesses. Gay is a journalist with more than 20 years’ experience in television news at Channel 4 News, Channel 5 News and the BBC.




andyAndy Gibson, Founder, Mind Apples

Andy is a writer, entrepreneur and campaigner specialising in culture change and innovation. He founded the “5-a-day for your mind” campaign, Mindapples, co-founded the education web start-up, School of Everything, and helps organisations innovate through his consultancy, Sociability. His current research interests encompass management theory, leadership, psychology, wellbeing, secular spirituality and the future of work.




darrenDarren Lilleker, Associate Professor of Political Communication, Bournemouth University

Dr Darren G. Lilleker is Associate Professor in Political Communication the Faculty of Media and Communication, Bournemouth University. His expertise is in the professionalization and marketization of politics, and the psychological impacts on citizen engagement and participation. The monograph Political Communication and Cognition offers a synthesis of this work. He teaches across the fields of politics and public relations, and outside of work Darren retains his love for rock and punk music and motorbikes.




mattMatt O’Neill, Consultant, Futurist.Matt

Futurist Matt O’Neill helps organisations better prepare, predict and execute their positive futures. His approach is centred around collaboration and he’s certain that discovering the future is also a collaborative process. Matt won’t present you with a theoretical strategy which will be left on the shelf while your business is left behind. He will work with you to create a roadmap, supported by rich media, live events and in a generous spirit of curiosity.




unaUna O’Sullivan, Head of Internal Communications – Global Financial Services, KPMG

Una O’Sullivan heads up internal communications for KPMG’s Global Financial Services business. Before that, she led the Global FS knowledge management program, which gives her the advantage of knowing all the rat runs around the business. In her spare time, she plays piano and runs (slowly, in both cases), and is a leader with Scouting Ireland.




joannaJoanna Osborn, Head of Customer Communications, GE Oil & Gas




susanSusan Walker, Head, AES Communication Research

Communication measurement and employee engagement research specialist Susan wrote the book “Employee Engagement and Communication Research” and ran the IABC online employee Research Academy course. Her background includes internal communication, and heading the human resource and communication research practice at MORI. Susan is an IABC Accredited Business Communicator and last year received the Chairman’s award for dedicated service to IABC.





Future Fit Communications is kindly supported by:-

abbotScarlettabbott powers conversations that connect, engage and motivate your people to deliver great business results. Passion, energy, originality and fun goes into every piece of work we deliver. @scarlettabbott / www.scarlettabbott.co.uk

commCommunicate magazine – the single voice for corporate communications and stakeholder relations. @communicatemag / www.communicatemagazine.co.uk

pitchPitchPack creates unique marketing and communication collaterals which embed video screens into printed brochures, books and briefing packs. [email protected] / http://bit.ly/pitchpack

Future fit communications: Connecting trends, strategies and actions

Book tickets here: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/future-fit-communications-connecting-trends-strategies-actions-tickets-23588816786

Learn more about our speakers here: https://iabcemena.com/uk/future-fit-communications-our-speakers/


If a leader’s job is to anticipate the future, and guide their people towards it, a communicator’s job is to spot the trends shaping that future and anticipate what audiences will need. This half-day conference will help you make those connections.

Running on the afternoon of Monday 16th May, the agenda will be split into four key parts and chaired by Michael Ambjorn, International Executive Chair of the IABC.


  • A look at current and emerging societal, technology and economic trends that will have an impact on our lives and businesses over the coming years. Our speakers:
    • Andy Gibson, Author of A Mind For Business
    • Matt O’Neill, Managing Director, ModComms Ltd


  • A quickfire #Rapido session with 5 speakers each taking 5 minutes (and not a second longer) to share their thoughts on what’s hot, and what’s not, in the future of corporate communications. Curated by the incomparable Ezri Carlebach. Our speakers:-
  • Una O’Sullivan, Head of Internal Communications – Global Financial Services, KPMG
  • Darren Lilleker, Associate Professor of Political Communication, Bournemouth University
  • Gay Flashman, Founder & CEO, Formative Content
  • Lesley Crook, Client Advisor, Enterprise Strategies
  • Susan Walker, Head, AES Communication Research

Part 3: From talk to walk – what do the big ideas mean to your business?

  • Michael Ambjorn will lead a reflection on the earlier #Rapido session and a panel-audience discussion of the role communications professionals play in making their organisations future-fit. Our panelists:-
  • Andy Gibson, Author of A Mind For Business
  • Matt O’Neill, Managing Director, ModComms Ltd
  • Ashish Babu, Director of Communications – UK & Europe, Tata Consultancy Services
  • Joanna Osborn, Head of Customer Communications, GE Oil & Gas
  • Keith Coni, Deputy Director of Capability, Standards & Professional Development, Cabinet Office

Part 4: What next?

  • A group sharing of key learnings, next-step resources, shared objectives and individual action plans. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and transform the big ideas into a plan that works for you. After the event we will curate and share all of these outputs.

Never has seeing the bigger picture been so important for communications practitioners and this IABC conference is all about connecting you with the ideas, people and impetus that can help you make a difference back in the business – both immediately and in the long term.

Come and join the debate.


1.30pm            Registration

2.00pm            Welcome from Michael Ambjorn, International Executive Chair, IABC

2.10pm             A healthy mind for a healthy business

Andy Gibson, Author of A Mind For Business

2.35pm           Three trends set to change the world of business communication

Matt O’Neill, Managing Director, ModComms Ltd


3.00pm            Break

3.20pm            Rapido sessions with Ezri Carlebach:-

  • The three-legged stool: internal communications, knowledge management and marketing – Una O’Sullivan, Head of Internal Communications – Global Financial Services, KPMG
  • Citizen / consumer activism on social media; never mind what or how, let’s focus on why – Darren Lilleker, Associate Professor of Political Communication, Bournemouth University
  • 5 ways communicators can thrive in our hyper-connected world – Gay Flashman, Founder & CEO, Formative Content
  • Enterprise Social Networking (ESN). What’s the business value? – Lesley Crook, Client Advisor, Enterprise Strategies
  • Organisational broadcast: the past. Employee voice: the present – Susan Walker, Head, AES Communication Research

4.00pm            Panel discussion with:-

  • Andy Gibson, Author of A Mind For Business
  • Matt O’Neill, Managing Director, ModComms Ltd
  • Ashish Babu, Director of Communications – UK & Europe, Tata Consultancy Services
  • Joanna Osborn, Head of Customer Communications, GE Oil & Gas
  • Keith Coni, Deputy Director of Capability, Standards & Professional Development, Cabinet Office

4.30pm            What next? Group discussion on next steps and action plans

5.00pm            Wrap up and networking drinks


The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Conference Centre
1 Victoria Street

Nearest tubes: Victoria, St James and Westminster



Future Fit Communications is supported by:-


Scarlettabbott powers conversations that connect, engage and motivate your people to deliver great business results. Passion, energy, originality and fun goes into every piece of work we deliver.

@scarlettabbott / www.scarlettabbott.co.uk


Communicate Magazine – the single voice for corporate communications and stakeholder relations.

@communicatemag / www.communicatemagazine.co.uk


PitchPack creates unique marketing and communication collaterals which embed video screens into printed brochures, books and briefing packs.

[email protected] / http://bit.ly/pitchpack



Ticket prices:-

  • IABC member – £50
  • IABC non-member – £100
  • IABC member + non member (booked together) – £100

Book at https://futurefitcomms.eventbrite.co.uk

The IABC is a not-for-profit organisation. Money from ticket sales will be used to cover the cost of running the event and invested back into IABC member initiatives.


IABC UK is the local chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators – the global organisation for people working in business communications. It offers members a global forum to develop professional skills, share knowledge of and develop best practice in communications and to discuss important issues affecting the profession.



IABC means many things to many people. For many it is a life-long commitment. And we want to share this experience with a greater audience than ever before.


IABC UK is launching a global contest, with the hope that chapter leaders around the world will encourage their members to verbalise and share the many ways IABC has impacted their lives via a brief video submission.


With 10,000+ members in over 80 countries – we believe there is a common thread between IABC members of all disciplines and nationalities that needs to be explored.


The final output of this contest will be a two to three-minute promotional video featuring clips of members stating their favourite things about being an IABC member. The final promotional video will be released at the World Conference in New Orleans from 5th-8th June 2016.


We’re counting on chapter leaders around the world to encourage a ‘call to action’ for their members to show their support for IABC by producing a video. Whether by promoting the contest on social media channels and monthly newsletters, or by encouraging on-the-spot submissions at events by asking attendees to film video clips on board members’ iPhones – every little bit helps.


Casilda Malagon, President of IABC UK, said:


“The #myIABC campaign exemplifies IABC’s role in creating global connections. IABC UK has launched the campaign to connect with members and non-members on the intrinsic value that IABC membership brings to their professional and personal lives.”


Kira Scharwey, President-Elect of IABC UK, added:

“We’re thrilled to have created a platform for IABC members to verbalise what their membership means to them. To many members, IABC is a life-long commitment, and IABC colleagues a pseudo-family. The campaign aims to capture this unique feeling.”


There are two main audiences for the video:

  • Members – aim is to provide a feeling of connection – and pride – amongst current members.
  • Non-members – aim is to increase awareness with communications practitioners more generally and motivate prospective members to join.


If each chapter can take ownership of promotion and designate one video competition ‘champion’ who can take the lead, we know this video idea can be a resounding success. Let’s practice what we preach in terms of member engagement and promoting IABC with a chapter-led, on-the-ground communications campaign that reminds our members why they love being part of IABC – and educate non-members on why they should join.


Deadline for submissions is midnight on 30th April. If you have any questions on the campaign, please contact Kira Scharwey from IABC UK at [email protected] or via Twitter on @kirascharwey / @IABCUK. Twitter hashtag for promotion is #myIABC.




Competition instructions:

  • Submitted videos can be a maximum of 0:10 in length.
  • Submissions must be made by individuals, not by groups.
  • Try to shoot videos in locations with decent lighting and minimal background noise.
  • All video content must answer the overarching questions “What has IABC done for you?” or “What do you love about IABC?” Please see the following possible introductory phrases for guidance:

o   I love IABC because…

o   I am a lifelong IABC member because…

o   IABC has enabled me to…

o   IABC has allowed me to…

o   IABC has given me…

o   IABC has granted me…

o   IABC has helped me…

o   IABC has benefitted me…

o   IABC has guided me….

o   IABC has supported me…

o   IABC has contributed…

o   IABC has improved my professional life…

o   IABC has impacted my life…

o   IABC has…

o   My favourite part of being an IABC member is…

  • Mentions of IABC must be in an international context, without reference to individual chapters.
  • Five of the best entries will be selected by a judging panel to win a prize. The final cut of the video created from submissions will premiere at the World Conference in New Orleans in June, where the five winners will also be announced.
  • Entries must be submitted by 11:59pm (Pacific) on 17th May 2016. Videos must be submitted either by email to kirascharwey [at] gmail.com or via the following Dropbox account () and an accompanying email must be sent to [email protected] with the following details.

o   Name

o   IABC member number

o   The sentence “I agree to release ownership of this video submission to the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and IABC UK to use as desired for promotional purposes”.