Maggie Nally Memorial Lecture 2019 – step inside One Great George Street

Dr David Landsman OBE is to give the keynote address at this year’s CIPR International Maggie Nally Memorial Lecture.

David’s address will draw from his extensive experience of working internationally and will cover topics such as:

  • Should PR strive to be regarded as a profession, or is there a better future to aspire to?

  • Playing with emotions – does the end justify the means?

  • Diplomacy and PR: two sides of the same coin?

This must-attend event will be held at the beautiful One Great George Street which provides the perfect backdrop for the evening with its rich neo-Palladian and Baroque interior.

One Great George Street1

The magnificent Grade 11 listed Edwardian building, in the heart of Westminster, has witnessed the filming of many movies such as Ghandi and Bridget Jones, some high profile weddings and the signing in 1945 of the UNESCO founding charter.

One Great George Street2

The Maggie Nally Memorial Lecture will be followed by a drinks reception, providing an excellent opportunity to discuss the learnings of the evening and network with fellow communication practitioners.

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With tickets for this must-attend event sold on a first-come-first-served basis, avoid disappointment and book now to secure your space. Tickets are available here.


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CIPR International EGM 2018 – Chair’s address

Did you miss our EGM on 25 November? Please find below the transcript of the Chair’s address – do let us know your thoughts. Don’t forget to have a look at #CIPRIntTrustResearch to read a summary of the engaging panel debate on communicating research that took place following on from the EGM, and make sure to sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know about our future events.

By Shirley Collyer

Since we last met in February we have again strived to provide our members with information and education throughout the year, as well as tried to expand our membership. This activity has been against a backdrop of GDPR, which has made communication much more difficult.  We have a great comms team, run by Merete Donlon, which aims to keep you all up to date through our newsletters and our social media feeds. 

This year we have expanded geographically. We now have CIPR International Groups in Jamaica, run by Richard Rose, and in Mauritius, run by Samantha Seewoosurrun. These groups are trying to increase professionalism and encourage skills and education in those locations. It’s early days for them but both Richard and Samantha have successfully publicised these groups and have gained a lot of interest. 

In September this year, our Vice Chair, Andras Sztaniszlav, headed to East Africa where he attended and spoke at, the AGM of the Uganda PR association. 

We’ve arranged a number of events since February – indeed the AGM itself was followed by a lively journalist debate on topics such as fake news and the rise of populism.  Thank you, Beatrice, for organising such lively and interesting events!

We once again ran the Maggie Nally Memorial Lecture in May – organised by Flora Wilke – when this year we heard from Ricardo Carioni, the deputy ambassador of Nicaragua to the United Kingdom.

Unfortunately, we were just not able to run the Global PRactice conference this year. But we’re running a series of smaller events to replace this over the year and in early October we ran an event on Artificial Intelligence in PR, in conjunction with the Greater London Group and the AIinPR group, where attendees learnt about how to construct a chatbot and discussed the ethical issues involved in AI. A podcast with the speakers discussing the topic is available on our website. 

To continue our “Doing PR in ….” series, we have run a number of webinars, this year covering Cambodia and India, arranged by Alessandra and Andras. We also aim to produce podcasts from as many of our events as possible to enable our members around the world to access these events – Lansons has kindly offered its services here. 

As I said at the beginning, a busy year and I’d like to thank everyone on the committee for their hard work and the time they have spent on CIPR International. 

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Statistics: Shady marketing or essential PR Partner?

By Josh GlendinningSenior Research Manager, Opinium Research

“In theory, statistics should help settle arguments. They ought to provide stable reference points that everyone – no matter what their politics – can agree on…[Yet] rather than diffusing controversy and polarisation, it seems as if statistics are actually stoking them…Not only are statistics viewed by many as untrustworthy, there appears to be something almost insulting or arrogant about them. Reducing social and economic issues to numerical aggregates and averages seems to violate some people’s sense of political decency.” William Davies, The Guardian, 17 October 2017

For a research agency such as mine, William Davies’ Guardian article last year made for concerning reading. The argument that statistics no longer retain their power as an authoritative and neutral arbiter, agreed upon and respected by all, is a challenge to the entire research industry.

Josh Glendinning

But the implications are no less profound for those working in public relations. At its heart, communications is built on trust: trust in the sincerity of the communicator; trust in a set of common beliefs and standards; trust in the receptiveness of the audience.

For communications, research has traditionally been a way to build trust and mitigate against accusations of bias. Brands and organisations have used research to give themselves permission to speak, to build their reputation on a subject, or to dispel common myths.

So the obvious question is how and why this has shift come about? Certainly, familiarity breeds contempt, and the proliferation of data and statistics over the past decade has led to public fatigue at best and outright cynicism at worst. Meanwhile, those who prize short-term AVE and RoI above all else have not helped this situation through the publication of poor quality and misleading ‘stats-bombs’.

On the other hand, clients and stakeholders are increasingly demanding that communications campaigns are guided by rigorous insights and measured according to more exacting data. We are told that data is the new oil and that it offers previously unimaginable ways to understand the world.

But the hyperbole evident in both these positions is the problem itself. Are statistics, data and research untrustworthy and elitist? No. But are they able to provide comprehensive and definitive answers to the most difficult issues in the world? Again, no.

Research and communications have much in common and much to learn from one another.

image008Research is a tentative endeavour aimed at illuminating certain parts of the world around us. The best research projects don’t provide definitive answers, they uncover more interesting questions about a changing world.

Similarly, effective communications campaigns aren’t about shifting views once and for all. Instead, they’re about starting or joining ongoing conversations that are often dynamic and unpredictable.

But most importantly, effective research is well-communicated research, and effective communications is well-researched communication. By better understanding the importance and value of each other, research and communications can build not only trust, but a mutually beneficial partnership.

Josh will be sharing his views and insights when it comes to trust in research, communicating research and the world of new data at CIPR International’s #EthicsFest event, taking place on Thursday 25 October 2018. Tickets are available here.



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University public relations – achieving global impact

By Claire Whitelaw

Working in University PR is possibly the most interesting and varied job in the industry. We’re managing engagement with partners, journalists and interested parties from around the globe on fascinating campaigns and stories that consistently grab headlines and public attention. 

Durham University, my employer and a world top 100 university, aims to have a positive impact regionally, nationally and internationally in keeping with our institutional values and reflected in our strategy.

Claire Whitelaw

Claire Whitelaw MCIPR is Deputy Director of Marketing and Communications at Durham University

However, a changing marketing and communications landscape and the need for universities to stand out in a competitive higher education market bring new challenges and opportunities for engaging with our global stakeholders. 

Like many PR teams, in recent years we’ve successfully moved from a ‘media first’ approach to one that puts digital media as central to reaching our target audiences – our students, our graduates, the global academic and business community, along with policy makers, opinion formers and influencers.   

It’s required a shift in approach and mindset for everyone. It’s not about selecting the most newsworthy stories but drawing out angles that show how Durham is making a tangible difference across the globe and telling stories in consistent but compelling ways across a number of channels. 

Part of this has involved refocusing and upskilling the team through training and coaching, but also educating the clients who still ask for a ‘press release’ and see media success alone as evidence of a job well done.

Our campaigns
Broadly, our campaigns fall into two key categories – those relating to our students and those relating to our research.

With our students, Durham’s core goal is to develop – through our education and student experience – socially engaged global citizens. Our integrated, multi-media student recruitment campaign #DUMakeitHappen has been propelled by case studies of both students and graduates who are ‘making it happen’ through their contribution to international communities.

With our research campaigns, we reflect how Durham is tackling wide-ranging and ambitious world challenges. Recent examples include: 

Durham Archaeology China cooperation

Visit of Prof Stuart Corbridge, the Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, visiting the work in the Forbidden City in May 2017.

The challenges
Digital and social media has made it so much easier to interact with international partners and opinion formers. It’s broadened our reach to unprecedented levels.  Yet to do this we’ve had to reprioritise our modest budget to create better multi-media content and more of it, meaning a ‘good enough’ job with other services such as monitoring and analysis.

Durham is some distance from independent and BBC studios, and several hours from London and Manchester, the UK’s main broadcasting centres.   So we fund an in-house media suite with a globally networked camera and radio ISDN, enabling interviews with global broadcasters we would otherwise have missed. Internet broadcasting is increasingly an acceptable option so we use that when we can.

We’ve explored new channels and have become a founder member of The Conversation, a thought leadership website whose content is republished on international news sites and has a large following in the USA, a target market.

We work with our externally facing departments, especially our policy team, to map and approach stakeholders with targeted stories on the day they are released, to broaden reach with core audiences.

Galaxy NGC 1448 with Active Galactic Nucleus

Galaxy NGC 1448 with Active Galactic Nucleus

One of our most successful (and CIPR award-winning) campaigns centres on our cosmology research. Having social media-friendly researchers considerably amplifies engagement with stories on galaxies, stars and black holes beyond University corporate channels and the media. One of the highlights last year was a visit from the international celebrity will. who took an interest in their work.

The future
There is so much more we can do to amplify our global engagement and we’re always looking for new ways of working.   Translating campaign material into foreign languages is something we’d like to test and monitor.  I’d love to exchange ideas with fellow CIPR international members and encourage you to contact me via the contact details below.

Claire Whitelaw MCIPR is Deputy Director of Marketing and Communications at Durham University. She spent the early part of her career in print and BBC broadcast journalism before moving into public relations for two leading universities, spending the last decade in leadership positions. Contact via or LinkedIn.

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Two days in Entebbe

This blog post also appeared in Influence

By Andras Sztaniszlav

Being the ViceChair of CIPR International, it is always great to get invited to PR events outside of London or even in the UK. At this time, it was in East Africa.

I got off with mixed feelings at the one and only international airport of Uganda a couple of weeks after watching 7 days in Entebbe.

As a comms professional, I am aware films can be real opinion leaders (btw it is a great strategic communication tool, as well) and this one had evoked not really favourable impressions about the East African country.

Fortunately, the two days spent here proved to be just the opposite: interesting market, lots of lessons to be learnt, opportunities and many-many communications professionals keen on learning.

The population of the country situated between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya is around 40 million: 19 million have already internet access and 2.5 million are active social media users.

I was invited by the local PR association (PRAU) to their annual meeting and General Council elections. A larger proportion of the 150 members works on the client/corporate side. The program had been scheduled for Saturday so I was not really surprised that it started with a 1-hour delay.

In my brief welcome speech, I pointed out that as a Hungarian citizen with a Russian name… sent by a British PR association and currently staying in Rwanda I attended a conference in Uganda… The situation could not be any more international, and so is our profession. We need to be open to each other, we need to learn and share experiences while learning the characteristics of each market. Without this, we cannot communicate with our stakeholders effectively. That is the main aim for our team at CIPR International.

There was a panel discussion with nine experts (which was quite surprising for me as a regular European conference participant) moderated by Raymond Muyuni, an investigative journalist.

The experts came from diverse sectors: bank, telco, police, international NGO, so it was a tough nut, I would say… and a real trend collection: Emilian Kayima from the local police, for example, stressed the altered role of police communicators. For a couple of years now everybody has become a communicator who has a mobile phone. Therefore, the police decided to find international best practices in order to act and react properly in such ever-changing circumstances.

Trends we already might be familiar with were named after one another just like that:

  • the strategic role of PR in management
  • blurry borders between different comms disciplines
  • the growing role of digital tools and practices
  • social media is not only a huge challenge but also a great opportunity to directly talk to stakeholders (if we have a good relation or at least we know them and their expectations well we can anticipate or manage crises without much harm – as one panellist emphasized)
  • fake news, manipulation, ethical concerns
  • the importance and learning and development for junior, mid-level and senior PR people

The previous board of the association had the chance to give a report (elections take place every second year) and the new board was also elected. This time Sarah Kangingo won and she highlighted the importance and need for cooperation and expansion so that professional development programs could reach more and more comms practitioners.

Luckily, I could talk to many of the members in person, as well. A great proportion has been enrolled in international studies, many have got acquainted with PR practices in a CIPR course to become a member of the UK based association. They were keen to listen about the newest trends (IoT, AR/VR, social listening, creative storytelling, influencer marketing), ethical issues and seemed to be dedicated to learn on and on.

Our dinner and little walk at night justified the view: yes, we have things to do in a country where:

  • there are huge inequalities (glass palaces next to slums)
  • there is an enormous humanitarian challenge (more than 1 million migrants in Uganda)
  • providing basic education is the responsibility of the corporate sector as well (under the umbrella of CSR politics)
  • infrastructure firms are influential (energy, telecommunication)
  • there is a developed (and from a certain perspective still developing) business sector

and where at the same time:

  • PR professionals are open, cheerful and eager to learn
  • the association is actively seeking international relations and aim to provide learning and development opportunities for their members and introduce more and more global trends (influencer marketing digital measurement opportunities, professional methods of public affairs, tools of reputation and stakeholder management)

This is a strategic opportunity (and also responsibility) for CIPR to provide Chartered status development programs in high quality for everyone interested. My very first trip to Uganda was merely a snapshot; still, it gave me the inspiration to run for being the Chair of CIPR International and the membership of CIPR Council. Working in international communication is not simply fun and a nice opportunity but a huge responsibility, as well.

Andras Sztaniszlav started his career as a journalist, then worked for the Prime Minister’s Office in Hungary as a communications advisor. In 2005, he co-founded his PR consultancy, PersonaR which provides strategic counsel to corporations on reputation and stakeholder management, sustainability, measurement, internal and crisis communication. Andras is an Accredited Practitioner of CIPR and currently the ViceChair for CIPR International

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Call for guest bloggers

Would you like to contribute to the CIPR International blog? Do you have thought-provoking insight and views to share on international communication? If so, we’d love to hear from you – whether you have opinions on industry trends, a book review or case study, or something entirely different.

We’re always looking for engaging content on topics of interest to our members so we’re not only looking for blog posts by practitioners in communication roles. We’re also interested in hearing from professionals from other industries with relevant knowledge to share. Perhaps you work in technology and have views about how AI is going to impact the way we communicate globally? Or are you a leader with an opinion on what public relations professionals should do to be considered trusted business advisors in an international company?

Either way, if you have valuable insight to share, please have a look at our guest article guidelines and get in touch if you’re interested in contributing.

Our aim is to encourage learning and exchange ideas on international PR, so your support would help build this mutual exchange. As CIPR International is one of the largest groups of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, contributing to our blog provides a valuable opportunity for profile raising.

human using black and silver laptop computer

Photo by on

About CIPR International and our members
CIPR International is one of the largest groups of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. We bring members together to discuss and learn from one another about issues facing communicators globally, and those who wish to develop their careers in an international direction.

Our members are professionals who work in global communications, either in the UK or in other countries. They come from in-house, consultancy and independent disciplines, with a wealth of multi-faceted experience.

Find out more here.

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Global Alliances, PR, and a 15 Billion Dollar Industry

A group of students from George Mason University visited the CIPR earlier this year to hear one of our committee members, Eva Maclaine FCIPR, speak about global PR practice. Here is a blog from one of the students.

By Sierra Fatlowitz

Communicating in the UK is like playing one big game of telephone for Americans. From attempting to ask for directions on the tube, to ordering a drink at a pub, you may not get quite what you asked for, and that’s okay!

The phrase, “People can be divided by a common language,” is relevant all over the world, especially while visiting new places. Generally, what we MEAN, what we SAY, and what they HEAR is often lost in translation along the way.

For Eva Maclaine, Founder of Maclaine Communications, building cross-cultural relationships is key to her success in international emerging markets. While the business is based in the UK, Maclaine Communications offers global public relations consulting services for crises, reputation management, and strategic business communications.

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With a marketplace reaching over 15 billion dollars annually, global PR is transforming the landscape of business in 2018. Eva Maclaine utilizes the acronym of ROSIE to create business plans for her clients.  Research, objectives, strategy, implementation, and evaluation are key to creating a successful public relations plan.

In research for a global market, Eva Maclaine says that is important to identify differences between local and international publics in order to create the best content tailored specifically to their interests and values.

For instance, without proper research, communicating with publics in India would prove to be quite difficult. With over 461 languages spoken, reaching a target audience in an appropriate way is important.

Eva Maclaine explained that sociocultural demographics and awareness can include things such as fashion, personal space, time, relationships, and sense of humor.

Running one universal advertisement for a car company with the tagline “Fit for a Queen” may not resonate with American customers the way it does with members of the United Kingdom.

More specifically, Eva Maclaine shared that research shows in comparison to North India, South India prefers coffee over tea. This means that publishing generic tea advertisements in India would have a difficult time reaching potential customers in South.

George Mason University student group

The George Mason University student group at the CIPR with their tutor Suzanne Mims, Eva Maclaine and Oshin Sharma from CIPR International.

Eva Maclaine stressed the importance of utilizing the right channels for who you are trying to reach. Whether your publics are Fortune 500 CEO’s or teenagers from a small farm town, there is a way to reach them efficiently and effectively, so choose wisely.

She explained that Greece surprisingly favors using more digital media daily, while Germany continues to consume traditional media such as newspapers and television. Her point was that as PR professionals, we should not assume we have explored all options, and remember to look in unusual places.

In a Q and A with George Mason University students from Virginia, Eva Maclaine said that “To be a good PR professional, you need curiosity, and you need it in spades”.

Eva Maclaine ended her session with the students by offering 4 Common Reasons For Failure:

4 common reasons for failure

Eva Maclaine is a highly respected public relations professional, founding Maclaine Communications over 20 years ago. She works closely with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations as a Fellow, Elected Member of Council, and member of CIPR International and of the Professional Practices committee.

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