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Make your next leadership conference one to remember. Book your place for our next Ask the Guru event on Tuesday 17th July and learn how to create integrated events that will WOW your people.

Hear from these experts about what they do to create truly brilliant events:

Steph Macleod

Steph MacLeod, Director, Kaizo has extensive experience across business-to-business and consumer PR. Steph specialises in developing creative integrated campaigns that deliver real business value and sales, as well as column inches and online buzz. Clients have ranged from Apple, Epson, HP and Samsung through to Flip Video, Getty Images, P&G and Tiger Beer. Before joining Kaizo, Steph held a number of board level positions at top multi-national PR agencies.

Her mixed portfolio has led to the development of a wide range of specialist skills spanning social media engagement, audience segmentation, event and sponsorship management and of course, good old fashioned media relations.

Simon Hughes, Managing Partner MCHA Ltd, has recently launched a business consultancy that works in the events sector. This follows 10 years as Director of Live Events at COI, where he worked on a number of high profile events for a diverse range of Government Departments and Agencies. These included events such as the G20 London Summit, the London NYE celebrations,

Simon Hughes

conferences and road shows around the U.K., as well as major public engagement sessions including all the historic Cabinet meetings held outside London. He is passionate about getting the end-to-end production process right for live events. He believes that bringing people together to share ideas, learning and experience remains one of the most powerful communication tools available today. He was voted the most influential person in the UK event industry in the 2009 Event Magazine Top 100 poll and received a career in the industry award from the IVCA in 2011. He is currently the Chair of Eventia, the trade association for the events industry.

owners to connect with their audiences in live and virtual environments. An experienced facilitator himself, Chris is a pioneer in developing and applying technological innovations that enhance communication around the meeting space.

Chris Elmitt is Managing Director of audience engagement specialist Crystal Interactive, a company that helps meeting owners to connect with their audiences in live and virtual environments.  An experienced facilitator himself, Chris is a pioneer in developing and applying technological innovations that enhance communication around the meeting space.

Chris Elmitt

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Our next Ask the Guru event is next week. Book your place now to find out how to create and manage brilliantly successful events using an integrated approach.

Tuesday 17th July, 6.30pm until approximately 8.30pm

Great value – £20 for non members, £15 for CIPR members

Book your place here

Events large and small have to work hard to earn their success among their attendees and those who commission them.

We’re really pleased to have such a great group of gurus to come and share their experience and insights in creating events which will wow.

They are:

  • Chris Elmitt, Managing Director, Crystal Interactive, Chris will explain and take questions on how to integrate technology into your events, whether to increase efficiency or to add a “wow”.. or both. http://www.linkedin.com/pub/chris-elmitt/5/842/443

Each will give you a mini presentation, then it’s over to us to ask questions and learn what we can from them in an open floor discussion.

So come along to The Merchant of Bishopsgate Restaurante after work and learn some tricks on how you can make your events more integrated and successful.

Your first drink is on us and we’ll provide the nibbles to keep you energised.

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Willie no mates
Willie Walsh is having a bad time at BA at the moment, surrounded by fallouts. Not just the recurring ash fallouts from Eyjafjallajoekull but the very public fallouts he is having with his closest mates: Fallouts with government over air tax duty and the third runway at Heathrow; fallouts with his cabin crew over wages and perks; fallouts with the regulator over flight bans; and fallouts with the unions. They are all threatening to lead to ultimate fallouts with his customers and shareholders.
I don’t want to criticise his approach to union negotiations, regulatory affairs and government relations but I do wonder what key messages his bullish standoff position sends out to the wider audience, especially his employees. There is definitely an air of “My business would be better off without all these people getting in my way” Be careful what you wish for Willie.

Anti-social media
When you look at what Derek Simpson’s tweeted during negotiations they were pretty innocuous, why did Willie chose to take great issue with them? Was it because he was angry that nobody in his team was monitoring and knocking on the door to warn him what was happening? Or was it because it highlighted that the unions tend to be adept at getting out simple messages in a timely way to their members, and social media tools is allowing them to be even more sophisticated? An employee of another company in the transport sector told us that during a strike in the US they all joined and followed the union’s social media stuff because that was where they got the most up to date information.
Euan Semple holds a more sympathetic view “increasingly there is a gap between those who adopt social media tools and those who don’t. There will always be a gap, what’s importnat is how we deal with it, respecting whatever camp people are in. Just as we shouldn’t rubbish the early adopters (even if they make a few mistakes along the way) we should respect those people who don’t get it, not rub their noses in it but help them to catch up”.
He recalls his experience of meetings at the BBC five years ago where “one half of the room were alluding to extra information, back stories and context that they were aware of due to following online conversations while the other half of the room had no idea what we were talking about. Unlike Unite , the BBC unions were slow to get involved, maybe they had too much to lose by upsetting the cosy dance they had enjoyed for years with HR!”

Changes…turn and face the strain
From an external perspective, if only half of what you read and hear is valid much needs to change. James Harkness believes that “the BA workforce appear isolated from what has gone on in the outside world and particularly the aviation industry since the fallout from 9/11. This recent dispute though has illustrated how far back the airline has fallen.” The strong heritage of the BA brand is not enough to pull them through. “Whilst there will always be a huge fondness for the national carrier that does not necessarily correlate into revenue for the airline. For many passengers there is not the allegiance to BA that there was even a few years ago. The brand has been tarnished and seems to have lost focus. Working for a struggling organisation can only have negative repercussions for employee morale”
James believes Willie Walsh cannot and should not back down. “Willie’s battle with the unions is a legacy issue which the previous leadership had not tackled. He has no choice but to take them on and drive through change, he is right in his view that BA’s future will only be secured with major revisions to perks, pay and working practices. The challenge for Willie going forward is to begin a process of genuine dialogue to ensure he is bringing his people with him. He needs to be aware that this is not some quick-fix campaign or sheep-dip programme but a long term strategic plan to make people at all levels feel they can make a personal contribution to the airlines’ success.

It’s about winning hearts and minds, not court cases
Staff engagement clearly is an issue within BA, winning court orders to ban strikes isn’t exactly winning hearts and minds it just seems to be exacerbating and accentuating poor employee relations. The court cases must be costing an order of magnitude more than the cost of bringing his people along with him. When Unite finally won their appeal he was left with egg on his face and resorted to a belated campaign for employees to boycott the strike, too little too late? That’s not to say BA hasn’t invested heavily in high-profile employee campaigns over the years, it appears the campaigns of the past have failed to make a sustainable difference.
Ian Buckingham believes a large part of BA’s challenge is their seemingly “schizophrenic battle between gargantuan commercial brand status and the perception of being a “de-facto” national institution about which everyone has an opinion”. This is a large challenge for employees who are expected to deliver the customer experience.
Ian is in little doubt that BA employees see their brand significantly different from the view of their leadership. “This has serious repercussions for customers both in terms of what the brand delivers and whether employees will eventually bring the brand to its knees by refusing to “fly the flag” for the brand they don’t believe in or trust anymore”
When staff choose industrial action, it signals a fundamental disconnect between employees and the representation of the brand itself by their leadership. Employee engagement has broken down. “You can rebuild high levels of engagement” says Ian, “but only when you rebuild trust and create a culture of communications focussed more on listening and less on pushing messages, that’s a leadership issue” Does Walsh, and by implication his leadership team, come across as leaders who listen?
The time has come for BA to get to the core of their brand in the context of a fresh Vision; Mission; employee engagement strategy and most importantly a set of values that embraces the challenges of the changing marketplace. Walsh and his colleagues need to re-engage with their staff to define what the BA brand stands for or the increasingly empowered customers will continue to vote with their feet.

He’ll get by with a little help from his friends
Despite the bookmaker’s predictions of an exit before the end of the year, I hope Willie stays and makes the necessary changes, but he needs allies. The unions need to get behind the changes necessary to engage their members and build a strong company in difficult times, the government need to consult with the industry to ensure a level playing field on regulation and taxes, and employees need to remain focussed on the customer, seeing them through the turbulence. This isn’t the right time to be turning their backs on the only guy that can realistically be the true saviour of a great British brand.
Wishing you the “best of British” Willie, good luck.

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Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the corporate-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
HR, Comms and Brand:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
o’er the land.

The important function there ye fill,
Taking a’ the flack withoot the frill,
Your insights are a bitter pill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your chores your artful skill
Is seldom heed.

The CEO when in full flight,
Will kick yer arse wi’ ready sleight,
Thinking yer just fu’ o’ shite,
Like ony function;
But soon he sees with great hindsight,
Yer fu’ o’ gumption!

Then, for EBITDA and ROCI
they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-calculated KPIs,
Are met with glee;
Then auld fatcats, maist like to skive,
will get their fee.

Is there a CEO owre his COO
Or CFO that wad staw a sow,
Or HRD wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect dole,
Look down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a role?

Poor devil! see him with his Board,
with debts that they can ill afford
now see how they could’ve scored
If they’d taen thy advice!
Instead yer wisdom was ignored,
O how unwise!

But mark the company, professionally led,
inspiring leaders at their head,
hard times disnae fill them wi dread,
they’ll buck the trends;
their folks to them will still be wed
when recession ends.

Ye Pow’rs wha lead the rank ‘n’ file,
And try sae hard to make them smile,
Yer folk want nae mair corporate bile
or reasons to rejoice;
But, if ye wish their extra mile,
Gie them a voice!

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