Thoughts from Corporate Affairs Summit 2014

6 Aug
Cicero CAS 2014

Corporate Affairs Summit 2014


Thanks to IABC Queensland, I was lucky enough to attend the national Corporate Affairs Summit in Sydney in (ahem… I’ve been busy) late May.

It was well worthwhile, and I’d certainly encourage anyone who works in corporate affairs to add this event to their calendar for 2015.

The quality of the national and international speakers was excellent, and there were great networking opportunities with 300 senior comms colleagues.

Key themes included the growth of storytelling and the importance of internal comms over external media relations amongst global organisations.

Highlights included:

  • 1.A fascinating insight from Pierre Goad, the global co-head of communications for HSBC Holdings, on dealing with reputational challenges. Pierre heads a 400+ comms team around the world, and captured the audience with his overview of how HSBC was able to overcome the damage of three years ago when the US and UK arms of the business faced a billion dollar fine (for issues including banking for Mexican drug lords). A key quote from Pierre: ž“Our most important audience was our employees, communicating with them took up 80% of my time.” Repairing morale and lines of communication with HSBC staff went a huge way towards improving the company’s external image. Pierre gave us an insightful rundown of their successful Shut Up and Listen and Boss Free TV projects. Check out some of the great videos they used to engage staff – and external audiences – here. Another great quote on their strategy and why it worked: ž“It’s easy to hate a company, it’s hard to hate a person just like you.”

2.A presentation by the global head of comms at GE, Helene Klasky, on engagement, and creating stories that humanise.

3. A compelling speech from Melissa Fleming, UN HCC Refugees Head of Communications, on communicating in a crisis or when a situation seems overwhelming. Melissa’s advice in a crisis: find a single person to humanise and focus on, otherwise people can get overwhelmed by a crisis or issue. Also: Don’t just inform… What? Why Care? What NOW? Melissa is well worth a follow on Twitter – @melissarfleming.

And finally, to inspire delegates with his youthful enthusiasm and panache, there was a mighty presentation from Daniel Flynn of Thankyou Water. His company story is inspirational and such a great cause, and I’ll sign off this post with some words from Daniel that certainly resonated with me, and might do for your business:

“žTake a risk – who says we have to do things the way they’ve always been done? Sometimes the status quo needs a high five in the face with a chair!”.

See you at CAS next year!

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