October 21, 2011
Rt Hon MP David Miliband was welcomed by a full house at the Rose Bowl today in what was a very lively and interesting Q&A event. The former Foreign Secretary’s first question was focused on the transition of economic power from West to East. Miliband referenced the prediction that China’s economy is expected to overtake the US by 2020 and the need for us to adapt to the changing world order.
Miliband was keen to emphasize the shift in power from bourgeoisie to the people, using the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street as an example. He attributed this shift to new technology, citing the Zimbabwean electorate using their phones to take pictures of their vote to prevent foul play by despot Mugabe.
On the subject of democratic process, Miliband pointed out that many express concerns over the future of Libyan politics, fearing a fundamentalist Islamist majority. Mr Miliband rejected these concerns, calling for us to promote democracy, regardless of its consequences. Furthermore, he reiterated the fact that the tide of revolution that has swept the North Africa is home grown, devoid of western intervention, therefore we must support those seeking democratic change.
Questions then moved onto Syria and the Assad regime. “Despite the deaths of 2900 protestors, the situation in Syria differs significantly different to that in Libya,” Miliband said. He then highlighted China & Russia’s veto on any form of action against President Assad and the divide of philosophy among the international community on foreign interventionism.
When asked if we should ignore the veto, Miliband replied “yes, if there is a humanitarian need, a viable military solution and the geo-political positives outweigh the negatives,” citing the Sunni-Shea Muslim divide and the connections with Iran as political antagonists for military action.
On the subject the 2010 election, Miliband conceded that his party lost because “we didn’t give people enough reasons to vote for us.” He was very keen to reject a claim from a member of the audience that Labour because of the Iraq War, arguing that those that defected because of Iraq defected in 2005, yet Labour still won. However another member added that Labour’s return to opposition was overdue, citing 5 million voters lost in 2005.
When pushed for a position on university staff strikes by Professor Paul Blackledge, Miliband claimed “strikes should be used as a last resort tactic, there needs to be a greater, coherent strategy,” referencing the historic Jarrow March of 1936 and the movement’s failure to achieve anything because of a lack of strategy and leadership.
One member of audience protested “if you support the will of the people in the Arab world, you are heavily contradicting yourself by not supporting our strike against pension cuts.” A slightly rumbled looking Miliband replied saying that he is not against strike action; however he fears the political resolve of the uni staff maybe lost if there is no clear strategy that will achieve the desired results.
Miliband advocated multi-lateral disarmament when quizzed on the relevance of Trident in the 21st century and confirmed his support for the plight of the Kurdish population against Turkish aggression. Moreover, Mr Miliband supported the call for a compulsory register of Lobbyists “anything to control lobbyists” he remarked, much to the dismay of aspiring public affairs professionals in the audience.
In conclusion, a very insightful and worldly talk by the MP for South Shields was commended with thundering applause from an over-capacity lecture theatre.
October 12, 2011
The second CIPR Guest Lecture attracted yet another full house as Kevin Murray , CEO of the Bell Potinger Group delivered a fascinating lecture, based on his forthcoming book: The Language of Leaders.
Murray wrote the book after interviewing 54 chairmen, CEOs & Business Leaders as well as 3 military generals and 2 Police Commissioners to ascertain how leaders inspire and influence others to achieve the results the desire.
“It was my years spent as a journalist that I decided I was never going to stop learning and reporting on what it is I had learnt.”
In an era of radical transparency, leadership has also changed quite radically. The speed at which reputation can be damaged is accelerating and leaders need to build organisations that respond at the same speed. Murray illustrated this point by referencing the McLaren ‘Ferrarigate’ crisis that he was burdened with handling: “In the space of 30 minutes, the false rumour that McLaren had been kicked out the World Championship had been reported and dropped by media all over the globe.” This reiterates his notion of the ‘double edged sword of the modern digital world.’
The two fundamental concepts that Murray found imperative to effective leadership and organisational success were trust & engagement. Lack of trust in an organisation costs money, in terms of loss of sales and rebuilding a brand. With reference to Professor Gregory’s lecture and her example of Coca Cola’s valuation, Murray said “there is a shifting culture from managing tangibles, to enhancing the intangibles.”
Murray then highlighted the importance of emotional engagement with stakeholders using his interview with Sir Frank Williams, CEO of F1, as an example: all Sir Frank ever wanted to do was race, and his employees were worried that his successor would not have the same passion as he did.
“He couldn’t move himself, but he managed to move everyone in the organisation.” Murray advocates that passionate values are at the heart of reputation management. All members of the organisation must be empathetic to communicate effectively with stakeholder groups.
Another crucial part of an effective corporate communication is storytelling. Stories are powerful, and audiences co-create the story with you – they are the superglue of ‘conviction communication.’ Murray’s sentiment echoes one of Richard Bailey’s favourite quotes: “Branding is for cows, stories are for people!”
Murray concluded with the key message that professional communicators need to advise their leaders to inspire all stakeholders, as it is these people that are pivotal the success or failure of any organisation, quoting a paradoxical statement often used in modern leadership “Follow me, I’m right behind you!”
September 23, 2011
Simon Buckden from Leeds is running 100 marathons in 100 weeks to raise money for Help For Heroes and boost awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Currently on Week 30, Simon has just completed a 30 mile run in Suffolk in 6 hours, despite sustaining a knee ligament injury only a week ago.
The Leeds Met Bsc Sport graduate had never run a marathon before starting his challenge way back in March, however he is adamant that strong mental determination can conquer anything, giving hope and inspiration to other servicemen and women who suffer from PTSD.
It was Simon’s time spent serving with the UN peacekeeping forces in the Bosnian conflict in the mid-90s that he began to suffer from PTSD. Simon is determined to raise awareness and funds for support of current sufferers of PTSD coming back from recent conflicts such as Afghanistan.
Show your support for this incredible man by donating at http://www.bmycharity.com/100marathons
Also, you can listen to Simon’s podcasts at http://www.raceto100.co.uk/
January 29, 2011
Anna Wilson graduated from Leeds Met in 2009 with 1st honours. Having started on the HND Business & PR course, Anna excelled in her initial years, switching to the BA Public Relations course in year 3. Anna is now the Digital Junior Account Manager at Tangerine PR.
Having grown up Birmingham, Anna chose Leeds Met because of its great integration of practical work experience into the course, which she found to be invaluable throughout her degree.
“I had a great time working on these projects and I learned so much, met some wonderful people and the experience was invaluable. Winning the Trimedia prize was fantastic, the late nights and all the work that went into our pitch was well worth it!”
Anna relished work experience with Ptarmigan PR (know as Bell Pottinger today) where she worked on clients such as Yorkshire Bank, Lemsip and Diageo. She was also part of a team that ran the Northern Journalist Awards where she met some great contacts and even got to meet Greg Dyke! Keen to gain journalistic experience, Anna wrote regularly for the student newspaper ‘The Met.’
Anna’s advice to current students is if you’re going to do something and do it – don’t flake out when it gets hard. Ask for help, the lecturers aren’t just available during your lectures/seminar’s –e-mail them, book appointments and ask for help, advice and guidance. But most importantly don’t say no and don’t make excuses – If you get the chance to do work experience go for it, if you’re sat stuffing letters in envelopes or writing PO forms (as she did at her first day at Ptarmigan!) then do it and do it well – that way you’ll be invited back.
November 30, 2010
Justin McKeown, now Regional Director of the global public relations consultancy Grayling, graduated with a first class degree in Public Relations in 1997.
It was fascinating to listen to his view on the changes in the PR industry over the last 13 years.
He started with an icebreaker activity, his own version of ‘The Generation Game,’ asking students to identify pictures, nostalgic and current. The message was to point out how cultures change over generations and to demonstrate the need to keep up-to-date and well-informed or be left behind.
Speaking more specifically of the changing world of communication, Justin said ‘YouTube is a mere five years old and is the most watched media channel in the world.’ He then discussed the demise of traditional print media with the example of how Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper The Times runs at a loss and may be scrapped by his likely successor James.
Justin then reminisced about the age of the fax machine and the inevitable end of the day queues to use it, outlining the constantly changing world (and the need to keep pace with it). In contrast, in the quiet early days of Twitter, Justin convinced Jonathan Ross to make a donation for a charity auction by simply suggesting so in a tweet.
Evaluation methods are changing too, with Justin describing the decline of AVE (advertising value equivalency) in favour the number of ‘retweets’ or ‘likes’ an article or blog post has received. Measuring online consumption is much more quantifiable than consumption of print media. He also commented on the growth in platforms of ‘mass coverage’ consisting of thousands of online outlets, the key point being you cannot stop information flowing.
PR today is much more about engaging in dialogue with customers and key influencers than the old style of: ‘I have something to say, you listen.’
“How engaged would you feel with someone who only spoke in press release format?”
Justin concluded by pointing out the transformation of media and the way it is distributed, noting that information flows in every direction (a far cry from Shannon & Weaver’s model) as well as advocating that the opportunities have never been greater for the PR profession.
November 28, 2010
The importance of interpersonal relationships and communication management fascinates me, and indeed has influenced my behaviour and conduct from an early age. The way in which we communicate can make or break our relationships regardless of their significance; after all ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know!’
Having been elected Secretary of the Student Council and Treasurer of the Social Committee at Durham Sixth Form Centre during my A-levels, I soon realized that how we relate to our public affects the success of any project, policy, initiative or social event. This is when I began to understand the intricacies and influence of Public Relations. After studying Philosophy, Psychology & History at A2, I had noticed a profound relationship between my (and my peers’) interest in topics and they way in which they were taught and how well the teacher communicated with me and the class. This was when I began to realize the power and value of solid communication and began my research on PR as a future career.
An affluently growing industry, taking precedence over other communication outlets such as advertising and traditional press journalism is too irresistible for someone such as myself, hungry for a challenge, persistent in the face of rejection and eager to learn from others. The concept of ‘pray for play’, central to the world PR (increasingly so in terms of online PR) is very relevant in the current economic climate with budgets and funding being slashed left, right and centre. The importance of excellent dialogue between disparate parties cannot be underestimated and the catalyst for efficiency, creativity and ingenuity has never been greater.
Maintaining positive representation and reputation is growing more challenging and difficult, especially with new transparency policies being adopted by both private and public sectors. The perception that PR is all about ‘spin’ is redundant in the 21st century. The boundaries of PR are growing and blurring with other disciplines such as Marketing (hence my choice of PR & Marketing) and Journalism. The pandemic of social networking and blogging in many ways has allowed PR to bypass traditional print media, presenting new opportunities for the way in which PR is conducted. Utilization of these new outlets remains dubious; however I find it vastly interesting and novel that anyone and everyone is an ‘online expert’, with tweeters and bloggers having huge influence not just online but in the real world, providing impartial and reliable advice and reviews that many read and trust. Identifying and harnessing this new online media phenomena is a perfect example of why I chose PR, the ever-changing environments, platforms and methods in which we (seemingly without relent) communicate with our publics interests me far much more than a life of monotonous routine ever could.
Leeds Metropolitan University has arguably the most sophisticated and respected Public Relations department in Europe. This was ideal for a Durham boy, a mere hour and a half on the train. The rose bowl campus is intrinsically impressive (as is all of the university buildings) and the lecturers on the open day conveyed a real passion and expertise for PR. I felt at home before I had even been accepted! From then on I was confident I had chosen the right course, university and city for me.
There is a very long and arduous journey ahead of me before I can be confident, experienced and educated enough to be a professional PR practitioner, however this is one a look forward to embarking and hopefully mastering. Despite obstacles and criticisms from other professions, I am confident that I have chosen the right course for me and am very optimistic for the future and relish the challenges ahead.