New ICCO Ethics Chair

Christina Forsgård Announced as Inaugural ICCO Ethics Chair

As part of a drive for continuous improvement of ethical standards in PR globally, ICCO has named Christina Forsgård, Founder of Netprofile, as its inaugural Ethics Chair. She assumes the role ahead of ICCO’s annual ‘Power of Ethics’ campaign in September and will continue to drive progress in this area beyond the one-month campaign. The move comes as part of an ICCO Strategy to work with other sectors to focus on educating the public, businesses and PR professionals in regard to identifying and combating misinformation, disinformation and malinformation; whilst aiding identification of reliable information and trusted sources.

Christina is an experienced PR and Marcom leader, entrepreneur and the founder of PR multi award winning consultancy Netprofile in Finland. She takes an active role as a marcom technology angel investor, has appeared on several Top Influencer lists, and was awarded a National Security Award for designing a ground-breaking cyber security and disinformation training course.

Christina Forsgård, Founder, Netprofile Finland, said: “We acknowledge that our profession comes with great powers of influence, therefore we have responsibility to combat disinformation and fake news. Not because it’s important, but because it is absolutely vital for humanity. I am honored to act as the first ICCO Ethics Chair globally and fortify the power of ethics in communications with ICCO leaders.”

Elise S. Mitchell, President, ICCO, and Founder and Chairman, Mitchell, said: “Ethics is one of ICCO’s top strategic priorities. Christina’s expertise and leadership will help ICCO continue to elevate the global conversation about ethics and promote professional principles such as advocacy, honesty and transparency. I am delighted to serve alongside her.”

Francis Ingham MPRCA, Chief Executive, ICCO, and Director General, PRCA, said: “The establishment of an Ethics Chair demonstrates the importance ICCO places on raising ethical standards in PR globally. Having played a key role in developing the Helsinki Declaration, Christina is well positioned to lead ICCO’s work in tackling the new and changing ethical challenges of our time.”

ICCO works to raise professional and ethical standards of the public relations industry internationally and  the campaign marks two years since the Bell Pottinger expulsion from PRCA on 4th September 2017 that caused shockwaves throughout the profession as well as the creation of ten globally binding principles, agreed across 66 countries in the Helsinki Declaration, that champions the #PowerofEthics.

Find out how to get involved in #PowerofEthics here.

ICCO is the global voice of public relations consultancies, with membership comprising national trade associations, networks, and agencies in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Americas and Australasia. Collectively these associations represent over 3,00 PR firms. ICCO organised an annual global PR summit, has an international awards programme, and provides PR training and qualifications.

New Handbook for Travelling PR Pros

The new PR International Business Handbook was developed through a collaboration between Creative Culture’s network of over 2,000

cultural experts in 110 countries and ICCO’s network of over 3,000 agencies across 66 countries.


Melanie Chevalier, CEO, Creative Culture writes:

In the globalised world of PR, it can sometimes be difficult to navigate

different business and cultural environments. This handbook will provide PR

practitioners around the world with key information for

conducting international business; highlighting the extremely

important, but often overlooked, details that will help your

business relationships with foreign stakeholders run smoothly.


In a globalised world, a one-size-fits-all approach won’t get

you anywhere. To ensure success, you’ll need to spend time

getting to know your local audiences – such as their

environment (political, cultural, social and economic), and their

likes and dislikes, for example, in order to understand what works

and what doesn’t. The latter, in many ways, is often more important.


Global communications are littered with examples of cultural

blunders, which in many cases, have led to damaging years

of crisis management and brand re-building. Knowing how to

position and communicate around a brand, product or service, in

a way that is understood by the target audience, is vital to success.

However great your USP or message appears to be, it

doesn’t necessarily always cross boundaries in the same

way. First, you need to understand the international

challenges and devise a strategy to overcome these.

Then you need to decide which channels to use. Where

does the local audience watch, listen or consume media, and

how is that particular media landscape structured? These

answers will, no doubt, differ from market to market.


Demand ICCO’s members, spread across 66 different countries,

have galvanised the production of this unique handbook, bringing together both the

key information you need to understand each market’s political,

linguistic and cultural nuances, as well as examples of recent

campaigns that have demonstrated a good understanding and

articulation of communication requirements for key markets.


Creative Culture, working with ICCO’s network and our own network of over 2,000

cultural experts in 110 countries, and utilising our 10 years

of experience in advising, developing and managing

communication strategies for a wide-ranging group of brands,

we hereby present essential information on 61 countries.


The information within is easy to navigate and designed to

provide the essential, top line, level of knowledge for each market.

The handbook is constantly updated to remain current,

in light of ever-changing political and media landscapes.

In some instances, you may require deeper and more bespoke

intelligence into a market, sector and/or culture. If

this is the case, we can provide this tailored insight,

with fast turnaround, and in-the-moment knowledge,

through our expertise both centrally and locally.

Please contact us or ICCO so we can understand

the exact and bespoke insight that you require.

We hope you find this handbook useful and please

let us know if there is anything else you would like

to see included or amended in the following issues.

World PR Report 2019-2020 Survey Launched

Share your views on challenges, growth and skills and receive a free copy of the report in advance – complete here

The World PR Report is the definitive study of the global public relations industry, conducted annually by ICCO and The Holmes Report.

Published together with The Holmes Report’s Global Top 250 Agency Rankings, the World PR Report provides agency leaders with vital information on the composition and direction of the public relations and communications industry. The report offers an analysis of where the global PR and communications industry stands today; how it has been performing over the past year; and what we predict will happen over the next few years.

With sections on challenges, growth, sectors, profitability, skills, evaluation and talent all being broken down by global region, the report provides a comparison of trends across both developed and developing PR markets.

This is a vital source of guidance for PR leaders operating internationally, please provide your views to receive your free copy in advance the published report later in the year.

The 2019-2020 report is being conducted in partnership with Opinium. To find out how to sponsor or advertise in the 2019-2020 report, please contact

Share your views on challenges, growth and skills and receive a free copy of the report in advance – complete here

ICCO Elects Grzegorz Szczepanski as Vice-President

Grzegorz Szczepanski has been elected as Vice-President of ICCO (International Communications Consultancy Organisation).

The long-time industry leader fought off competition from four rivals to win the position which he will assume in October 2019. He will serve as Vice-President for two years before becoming ICCO President in October 2021.

Szczepanski is currently CEO, Hill + Knowlton Strategies Poland, having held senior positions at Burson-Marsteller, Edelman, UniCredit, and Heineken. He is the founder and first President of the Polish Public Relations Consultancies Association (ZFPR), which he brought into the ICCO network in 2001. In 2016 Szczepanski began a second period as ZFPR President.

The role of ICCO President is to lead the strategic vision and direction of the organisation, uniting a diverse membership around the most critical global PR issues. Szczepanski’s message to ICCO members focused on consolidating and reclaiming PR professionals’ position as reputation management experts that impactfully communicate truth. Szczepanski says:

“I believe PR professionals are destined to play a decisive role in shaping a stable future for humanity. As ICCO’s future President, I would focus on communicating the strong value proposition we offer to businesses, governments and the general public, enabling us to more frequently win our deserved seat in the most meaningful decision-making forums, both globally and regionally.”

Current President Elise Mitchell, representing PR Council, USA will finish her tenure in October and Nitin Mantri, President of the Public Relations and Communications Association of India (PRCAI), will move from the ICCO Vice-Presidency to the President seat, which he will occupy for the next two years. On Grzegorz’s victory, Nitin said:

“It is a great pleasure to welcome Grzegorz Szczepanski as ICCO’s new Vice- President for the next two years. Grzegorz is one of the most experienced PR professionals in Europe, with an illustrious 25-year career. I am looking forward to working alongside him to advance our profession and grow ICCO’s services to members”.

Over the past three weeks ICCO board members representing 66 countries across their national and regional associations have been voting for two ICCO Officer positions.

The second of these is the Treasurer, who serves on the Executive Committee as well as exercising supervision over the organisation’s financial affairs. Alison Clarke for the PRCA in the UK was elected into this role, which she too will assume in October, replacing Andrey Barannikov, CEO, SPN Communications.

ICCO Chief Executive Francis Ingham said of the results:
“The ICCO Board has been blessed with some outstanding leaders over recent times, who continue to drive our ever-expanding organisation and I look forward to working with another. Grzegorz will bring a wealth of international experience and a fresh perspective when he becomes our first Polish Vice-President and later President.”

ICCO Europe – Combating Misinformation

On Thursday 6th June, ICCO European members gathered in Rome, with the theme of combating misinformation running throughout the day culminating in an open debate. PR association leaders from fifteen countries were represented and have all agreed to work collaboratively on tackling this issue through affiliations with international institutions, journalism bodies and lawmakers. More detail will follow from ICCO in the coming weeks but for now, some of the insights are available below.

Full event slide deck

European Council slides

European Council article


PR agencies must acknowledge common ground to enhance our professional standing

Jon Meakin – Chair, AMEC Agency Group, and Global Head of Strategic Services, Grayling

PR agency people are a strange breed – and I say that as a longstanding member of that tribe myself.

We are full of contradictions: Fiercely competitive with one another, and with rival agencies, but at the same time extremely fickle, very often willing to jump ship to one of those rivals for a fancy new title, a salary bump, or some other perceived advancement.

But throw a few folk from different agencies together in a bar, and with enough (ahem) lubrication we soon discover that our agencies aren’t so different, after all. We all struggle with the same pressures and challenges – attracting and retaining good staff, adapting to a rapidly and continually changing media landscape, maintaining profitability when clients are expected to do more with less… not to mention the egos, the personalities, the petty politics. As a colleague of mine is fond of saying: “Same sh*t, different logo”.

That is not to say agencies do not cultivate distinct cultures, value propositions and services – they do. But let’s face it: There is much more that unites us than divides us.

Giving it all away

One common gripe in the agency world is the expectation that we should pitch for free. And it’s true, an awful lot of work goes into every new business pitch. Tens of thousands in staff hours, as well as hard costs, and an expectation that we should effectively give away our strategic thinking and our best creative ideas for free, in the hope that we will be appointed following an often long and torturous pitch process.

Personally, I think that’s just the cost of doing business. You have to speculate to accumulate, and there are plenty of other industries where much more is invested in speculative sales pitches.

But what I do find bizarre is that once we have been hired, we often continue to give away our most valuable strategic thinking – voluntarily.

I’m talking about measurement and evaluation.

Recognizing the value of our efforts

I’m making a generalization here, but for the most part, measurement and evaluation is not something we do well in the PR profession.

For years I’ve seen “measurement and evaluation” lumped in with “account management” during the budgeting process, and that part of the budget squeezed to a minimum because we want to devote as much of the budget as possible to execution. And then the “measurement” actually ends up being little more than “reporting”, invariably left to an intern or junior account executive to do little more than count clippings and calculate “total reach” in some backward-looking report that we call an evaluation, but actually isn’t.

Sound familiar?

Why are so many of us so afraid to budget for, and undertake real evaluation, that analyses outcomes and impacts, and not merely outputs? That becomes the basis for informing future strategies instead of simply being a look back at recent history? That acknowledges what has not worked, as well as what has, so that we can make intelligent decisions and continually improve?

PR: The poor relation

There are probably as many reasons for this as there are agencies, but it mostly boils down to a few key factors:

Firstly, we (and our clients) are prisoners of our own experience – we’ve always done things in a certain way, so there is a resistance to change.

Secondly, there is a skills question. When I and my peers came up through the profession, the importance of writing was drummed into us above all else. And we continue to recruit in our own image, hiring wordsmiths when we also need data scientists (as well as coders, film-makers, graphic designers…).

And then there’s the question of budget, which is a circular one: PR budgets are often modest, so we don’t set aside budget to measure and evaluate, and therefore we can’t prove whether what we did worked or not, so budgets remain small… and so it goes on. And PR remains the poor relation of the marketing mix.

It’s time to break that cycle.

Common Ground

It’s time to acknowledge that in the area of measurement and evaluation, perhaps more than any other, we have much in common, and much to learn from each other, if we could but check our egos and put aside those rivalries.

I am proud to be spearheading ‘Common Ground’, a new initiative by AMEC (The Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication) to further the adoption of best practice measurement and evaluation within the PR agency sector.

How are we going to achieve that? By creating a forum through which agency people can speak to, and learn from each other, in a non-competitive environment.

Radical? Maybe. Bonkers? I think not. No, I firmly believe we all have something to learn from each other. There are so many issues common to all agencies: How to persuade clients (especially those with modest resources) to invest in measurement and evaluation? How much should that investment be? Is there a minimum?

How do you bring about a change of culture within your agency, to embrace the value and importance of robust measurement and evaluation? In particular, how do evaluation advocates within agencies persuade colleagues to ‘sacrifice’ a proportion of a client’s fee to allocate to measurement and evaluation? And how much should that be, especially for smaller clients?

How can we educate clients and move them away from old-fashioned models and metrics?

How do you measure effectively for clients on a shoestring budget?

How do you build an in-house measurement or insights practice from the ground up?

Which measurement and evaluation companies are best for what sort of client? Which tools are best used for which metrics?

How can we stop measurement being backward-looking, and make evaluation a forward-looking planning tool, prescriptive rather than descriptive?

Time to show our hand

Why should agencies give away their ‘secret sauce’ to their competitors? News flash: There is no secret sauce.

Different agencies certainly approach measurement and evaluation in slightly different ways, but the principles are the same. Best practice exists – and is freely available on the AMEC website for any agency that wants to adopt it.

And if you don’t believe me, ask my peers at Fleishman-Hillard, Golin, H+K, Ketchum, Mischief, The RED Consultancy… they are all in on the Common Ground initiative, and want to share their knowledge, their skills and their experience for the benefit of the whole profession.

Through AMEC, we will be organizing events and sharing content in the coming months, in London, New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Dubai and elsewhere. For details check the AMEC website or drop me an email – we’d love to have you involved.

It’s time to come together to raise the standard of measurement and evaluation throughout the PR agency world. Let’s find that common ground, and build upon it.

If you would like to get involved in the AMEC Agency Group’s Common Ground initiative, please email AMEC Agency Group chair, Jon Meakin, or AMEC managing director, Johna Burke

Visit the House of PR at Cannes Lions Festival on Wednesday 19th June at 11am to join a discussion about the Common Ground initiative.

ICCO Mid-Year Round Up with Elise Mitchell, ICCO President

Elise Mitchell, ICCO President provides a round up of all the newly latest member benefits, projects and events for 2019!

Highlights include

*NEW* ICCO Resource Library Launch – here

*Biggest Ever* Cannes Lions #HouseofPR ,  June 17th -21st here

*NEW* Agency Finder – coming soon!

#PowerofEthics – September 2019

ICCO Global Summit, 9th -10th October 2019


ICCO Africa Group (IAG) meets in Kigali, Rwanda

The first meeting of the ICCO Africa Group (IAG) took place on Monday 13th May 2019, ahead of the APRA Conference in Kigali, Rwanda.

The group comprised of representatives from national PR associations, institutes and societies across Africa with the purpose of discussing opportunities for collaboration, sharing of information, ideas and resources. The next aim to discuss how to share and promote the best creative, successful African PR campaigns, case studies and work to the rest of the world.

The group agreed the following actions and initiatives:

Professional Development

  • ICCO to work with IAG representatives in order to develop face to face training courses in hubs across the continent, starting with Lagos. This training will be developed from
  • ICCO courses in consultation with local representatives for relatable examples. Local associations and societies will manage the marketing of courses to secure maximum attendee levels and help reduce costs.
  • We will start with “Crisis Communications in a Digital World” and
    “Award winner Masterclass sessions”
  • ICCO to offer a discount to APRA members for online training and videos.

Research and Resources

  • ICCO to promote existing online resources to APRA members and members of other PR associations and institutes.
  • Research conducted in Africa to be promoted to the rest of the world through ICCO Library.
  • Research to be conducted jointly between PRCA, ICCO and African PR organisations in order to get larger data samples and produce more accurate results.

Raising the profile of African PR in the Rest of the World

  • ICCO to review costs for entering Global Awards will offer discounts for local award winners. The goal is making sure individual nations of Africa gain more recognition, distinct from the continent as a whole.
  • ICCO, with PRCA, APRA and IAG members, will create and promote courses and guides on “How to win global awards” using videos and guidance from SABRE Africa winners and Cannes Lions winners.
  • ICCO will offer special discount to APRA members to attend the ICCO Global Summit in Lisbon and procure speakers on topics beyond the analysis of the African Market.
    Raising profile of PR to leaders in Africa
  • ICCO will look to support and amplify the coverage of existing efforts by APRA to raise awareness of PR at events like the African CEO Forum and other non-PR specific events attended by politicians and leaders.
  • ICCO will amplify coverage and message of APRA relationship with African Union as a model of practical influencing.

Standards and Ethics

  • ICCO will target existing ICCO members from networked agencies like Edelman to drive the adoption of best practice standards across the group and affiliates, including use of self-assessment and business improvement tools like CMS. With long-term aim of these practices being adopted across markets locally.
  • The IAG members will engage their communities, agencies and consultants to take part on “#POWERofETHICS” in September. An online social media campaign to promote case studies of ethical PR and PRing ethics through blogs, guidance pieces and events e.g. interview with the award-winning Anti Child Abuse campaign from Ogilvy Ghana.
  • The ICCO Africa Group has agreed participants from Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda as well as associations APRA, PRISA (Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland and South Africa) and PRCA MENA (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt) with more to come and all nations of Africa welcome. We plan to continue communication to achieve the above goals and meet again in May next year in Accra, Ghana ahead of the APRA 2020 conference.

Going forward this collaborative initiative will be run by Bridget Von Holdt, ICCO Africa President and Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, APRA President.

To find out more about the ICCO Africa Group, please contact Rob Morbin, ICCO General Manager,

Don’t Cry Wolf join ICCO House of PR in Cannes

Don’t Cry Wolf have become the first ever start up agency to be a platinum sponsor of ICCO’s House of PR at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. They join WE Communications and FlieshmanHillard as the first three to confirm for the 2019 festival.

Francis Ingham, Chief Executive, ICCO said

“For the past five years, the ICCO House of PR has offered PR pros at Cannes a base to come together and exchange ideas on creativity. Previously, it’s only been global agencies that have been present here -so it’s fantastic to welcome the presence of our first-ever start up agency official sponsor. Don-t Cry Wolf -a true leader of the pack.”

John Brown, Founder and CEO, Don’t Cry Wolf has said

“It’s not just about the rosé!”

“We’ve got something to share about how creativity can, and should, be nurtured with social good in mind. Also, we want to discuss how a creative agency can be run with a net positive impact on the environment and society.

So, we’ll be curating a day at Cannes Lions where Don’t Cry Wolf and some of our B Corp buddies, both agency and brand side, will be taking the stage to talk about creating campaigns with an eye on improving society. We’ll also explore purpose washing and how organisations have to change their setup first before they start banging on about positive outcomes.”

ICCO will be rallying the industry once again at our Cannes Uncovered event on 30th January to preview changes to Cannes in 2019 and provide some expert advice for judges to ensure PR winners across the board in June. Details here.

The House of PR is the independent hub for PR professionals at Cannes Lions to meet, work, relax, learn, and have fun. Attracting the biggest names in PR throughout the week, it’s also a perfect cost-effective way to host your own events, workshops, seminars, drinks receptions, or showcase work and technology in the heart of the festival.
This year we have a space that is five times bigger, allowing for larger events, displays, and workshops. ICCO is an official sponsor of Cannes Lions giving the House of PR sponsors exposure, credibility, and a direct connection with the competition.

For more information of the ICCO House of PR at Cannes Lions 2019 contact