Ten PR and Communications Industry Leaders Set to Speak at the World PR Day Fireside Chats on July 15 and 18

Ten notable PR and communications professionals from across the world have been confirmed to speak at the World PR Day Fireside Chats on Twitter Spaces on Friday, July 15, 2022 and Monday, July 18, 2022 as part of the annual celebrations.

Themed “Trust, Truth and Transparency”, the second edition presents another opportunity for professionals to put forward a unified global agenda and propel each other to answer a call of duty, help stakeholders to communicate more responsibly and be more deliberate about using public relations to build, innovate and develop.

The Fireside Chats give us an opportunity to hear from revered professionals across the globe on the need for practitioners to help people, companies and governments communicate more honestly and responsibly,” Convener, World PR Day, Ayeni Adekunle says.

Amongst the speakers are leaders of global PR associations, agencies, media and companies:

Alastair McCapra, Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)

Alastair McCapra, who has been Chief Executive of the CIPR since 2013 after working for several other professional membership associations, will join the fireside chat as a speaker. Alastair is renowned for introducing corporate affiliate membership, a new chartership assessment process taking the CIPR virtual in 2020. Nearly tripling the number of members who complete CPD each year is the achievement he rates as his most important.

Emma Wenani Chief Director, GMA Worldwide

Emma Wenani
is a Communications Professional (Public Relations, Digital Marketing, Project Management and Events Management) with over 10 years of experience working in different capacities at senior management level in mainly consulting and media firms. Confirmed as the moderator of the fireside chat; Emma currently oversees the Communication Units for Global Media Alliance Group as its Chief Director leading her teams in providing strategic and objective advisory services to the clients they work with. The team currently works with and services clients in the telecommunication, banking, agriculture, non-governmental, nutrition, government, technology industries among others.




Francis Ingham, Director General of the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA)

Francis Ingham: For the past 15 years, Francis Ingham has been Director General of the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), operating out of London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires and Dubai. Since 2013, he has also held the position of Chief Executive of the International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO). Representing over 35,000 practitioners, PRCA is the largest PR professional body in the world. ICCO is the global voice of public relations associations and its membership comprises 41 national trade associations, collectively representing over 3,000 PR firms.





Jacob Puthenparambil_Founder & CEO, Redhill

Jacob Puthenparambil is a communications expert, opinion leader, author, serial entrepreneur, and business leader with over two decades of global experience. Jacob is also the founder and CEO of Redhill, a global communications agency. Headquartered in Singapore and with a presence in eighteen countries and twenty-one cities, Jacob oversees a team of more than 150 talent across Singapore, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Thailand, India, Greater China, Japan, Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia, along with growing teams in the Middle East, Europe, and the US.




Nitin Mantri, President, International Communications Consultancy Organization (ICCO)

Nitin Mantri is a dynamic leader in the world of communications. He’s the Group CEO of Avian WE and the President of International Communications Consultancy Organization (ICCO). He is also a member of the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA)’s Global Advisory Board and Co-Chair of PRCA Asia Pacific and PRCA Ethics Council. He was the President of the Public Relations Consultants Association of India (PRCAI) for five years – from 2015 to 2020.





Obabiyi Fagade, Marketing Manager Heineken, Africa, Middle East and Eastern Europe

Obabiyi Fagade is the Trade Marketing Manager for the Africa Middle East and Eastern Europe region at Heineken. In this role, he is responsible for identifying and unlocking growth opportunities, developing commercial toolkits for brand building and ensuring alignment and consistency of local brand initiatives with its global strategy. He has developed various global Heineken campaigns, especially for the brand’s biggest football sponsorship platform – The UEFA Champions league.
An experienced and award-winning marketing professional, Obabiyi is skilled in the development of digital communication and individualised data-driven marketing (iDDM). He is particularly skilled and experienced in Marketing Management, Innovation Management, Integrated Marketing Communication, Advertising, and Brand Activation.



Rachel Roberts, President of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)

Rachel Roberts is the Founder and CEO of an award winning UK PR practice, spottydog communications. She is also currently serving as the President of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and is a CIPR Chartered Practitioner. Rachel has worked as a communications consultant for over 20 years operating in-house for British Telecom and charity Cancer Research UK, and within the consultancy sector at Jackie Cooper PR (now part of Edelman) and Harrison Cowley (now part of Grayling).
In 2010, Rachel founded spottydog communications as an independent consultancy in Birmingham, UK and has organically grown the business to create the 20-strong team that now exists, picking up over 30 industry awards along the way, including in 2019 the accolade of PRCA’s DARE Awards Industry Leader of the Year.


Steve Barrett, Editorial Director, PRWeek

Steve Barrett: As the VP and Editorial Director, of PRWeek & Campaign US, Steve oversees content operations across Haymarket Media’s flagship business titles – PRWeek and Campaign US. In 2021, he received the Timothy White Award, named after the longtime editor of Billboard Magazine, which is given out annually by the Jesse H. Neal Awards to an editor whose work displays courage, integrity and passion. PRWeek is the premier global media business brand for the communications and PR industries, publishing online and in print.



Sylvester Chauke, Chief Architect – DNA Brand Architects

Sylvester Chauke: CNBC Africa Young Business Leader of the Year 2017, Sylvester is a multi-ward winning entrepreneur and founder of Adweek’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Agency in the world 2020, DNA Brand Architects.
After a lustrous career as the National Marketing Manager for Nando’s South Africa, Sylvester joined broadcasting giant, MTV Networks Afric,a as its Director of Marketing and Communication before establishing DNA Brand Architects; working with some of the most revered global brands on the African continent.
Besides running South Africa’s Large PR Agency of the Year 2021, Sylvester Chauke is one of the 22 young leaders from around the world sitting as the Advisory Council for the World Economic Forum Global Shapers and was selected to join the Harambe Entrepreneurs Alliance in 2018.

Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, President, African Public Relations Association (APRA) and Group Managing Director, CMC Connect (Perception Managers)

Yomi Badejo-Okusanya is the Group Managing Director, CMC Connect (Perception Managers) with over 30 years to his credit. He started his career in 1988 and he later founded CMC Connect Limited in 1992.
He is is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) where he was past Chairman of the Lagos State Chapter. He also sits on the boards of several blue-chip companies in Nigeria.
As part of his continued efforts at mainstreaming Africa into global public relations practice, Yomi has served as a Board Member of the International Public Relations Association (IPRA). His love for Africa is evident in his selfless service to the African Public Relations Association (APRA) where he served as a two-term Secretary-General and is the current President. He was recently appointed as West Africa Chair for the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA).



Details on how to participate in the 2022 World PR Day celebrations are available on the World PR Day website – wprd.app/world-pr-day-2022.

Does Transparency Pay Off?

And other strategies for delivering good service

By Remek Gabrys, Commercial Director, Sapio Research


Unfortunately, I will not be able to help on this occasion”. How often were you brave enough to say this to your existing or prospective client?

It was only a few months ago when I moved to Sapio Research, 10 years+ into my client management career, that I saw the whole team being encouraged to do this.  It felt really refreshing!

Market research is a fascinating and important industry. It should never be underestimated. It helps to make educated business decisions, provides justification for strategic investments, identifies new opportunities, lowers business risks and much more. Market research is behind the sustainability of organisations, no matter how big or small they are. I’ve been a part of it for many years now and I still love it!

On the other hand, it is also a very competitive industry. Over the last decade since I’ve been working in the industry, market research agencies started to pop up everywhere like mushrooms after the summer rain. UK, US, Asia… the numbers are growing, and everyone constantly thinks about new and innovative ways to position themselves in front of clients as “Global Leaders”. Marketing departments are swamped with demands for new campaigns. New business roles are created.

Online panel providers cannot stop informing potential clients about how many respondents they can reach, how fast, how cheaply and where. These figures do not go up in tens or hundreds of thousands of people. We are talking about millions now! Looking closely, we see these are not real as usually the number of active panelists is much lower than that, but hey! Seven digits always look better than let’s say five, right? In my experience, many qualitative providers, both for in-person and online research, do pretty much the same too. Boasting about their facilities (many of them without convenient ways of getting there), recruitment capabilities, quality of respondents they can provide etc. Again, a lot of information is not entirely true and goes straight into the same bucket called “marketing tricks”.

Looking at all this, I cannot help but notice that somehow the market research industry created (knowingly or not) a bit of a toxic melting pot. Clients started to learn that not everything we tell them is as we describe it. They started to pay less attention to the quality of research and its genuineness, mostly focusing on cost and fast turnaround. The idea of loyalty went out of the window a long time ago, as there is no need for it right now.  And who could blame them?

It is us as research providers who put more attention on quantity instead of quality. It is the industry ready to sell services for the sake of selling them (quite often this practice is being encouraged from the very top of the leadership). It is us who are ready to lower costs to the point of running projects for pennies, just to bring another name on the board, so we can shout about how many new clients we have and how fast our portfolios are growing. Clients see all that and rightly take advantage of it on regular basis. At the same time, the understanding of real market research value diminishes right before our eyes. You pay peanuts, you get monkeys. – Does this resonate in the PR & Comms market too?

What is the solution to all this? Transparency!

One of Sapio Research’s values is being forthright (together with friendly, fast and flexible), and I cannot stress enough how important it is. Not just to me personally, but also to our clients. The combined experience of our Team is up to the highest level and research solutions we bring to our clients are simply outstanding. I know, I’ve worked with a lot of teams.

However, would I say we are the best in the industry, or that we are the “Global Leader”? No, I would not. Not because I do not like this type of statement but because this would be a stretch. Because we are aware of our limitations and shortcomings, and we are not afraid to admit it, especially when talking to our clients. And neither should you! Although we all need to strive for the excellence in fields we specialise in, it is pivotal to know what we can and cannot do. Simple as that.

So, while I entirely appreciate it is not easy to admit to this common ‘over exaggeration’ practice, I would advise market research (or any other) agencies to stop saying you “are the ‘best'”, as you are probably not. Stop describing yourself as a global leader because there is really no such thing (well, at least not for long). Stop creating unreal statistics because all you do is paint a misleading picture, which affects the whole industry. Just be honest. In every aspect of your work.

In the long run, there is nothing better than that. Perhaps going back to basics and reminding ourselves about this can help us rebuild the industry’s reputation and best practices.

Whether research or PR agency, instead of blowing our own trumpet, what about the following?

  • Do not be afraid to admit that there is something you do not understand. From the moment you receive the brief, it is all right to let the client know there are bits which are blurry and to ask for clarification.
  • Provide the feedback based on your expertise and knowledge if changes to it are needed. Clients do not need to be research (or PR) savvy. We are the experts; therefore, we should be positioning ourselves as such (even if it means tweaking the brief).
  • Do not overcommit on what you can deliver and where. Being truthful is important and trust me, if you are not, your client will very quickly figure that out.
  • Do not change your cost after the project is commissioned! It is extremely unprofessional and leaves a long-lasting negative impression. It is fine not to be sure about certain aspects of the projects, especially those which are niche. At the same time, it is not that difficult to let the client know about your assumptions, estimates or provide different cost options based on different scenarios. All this at the bidding stage though, not after the sign off.
  • Keep your clients informed and in the loop. They are often new to market research and giving them reassurance about the progress is crucial for developing a strong relationship
  • Stick to your deadlines. The outcome you provide is only the first step in their journey and not doing this can have some serious consequences.
  • Ask for feedback after project completion. Real, honest feedback! It is a constant learning process for all involved and knowing how your performance is ranked should be considered one of the biggest assets for your company.
  • Finally, do not be afraid to educate your clients. Either by providing them with a real picture of the process or by offering some complimentary learning sessions to make them better equipped too. For example, Sapio Research offers “Lunch & Learn” sessions for teams from different sectors and in different markets. All this with remarkable success and appreciation.


Do not get me wrong here, please. I am not trying to slag off the industry I love. I know plenty of fantastic market research agencies around. I was part of some of them. Sometimes I was a client too. My point is that unfortunately there are still some “bad apples” out there and I hope that one day there will be absolutely none. Once that happens, we can all get back to being proud of what we do and the industry we represent.


Team Indonesia Win Gold at Cannes Young PR Lions

Indonesia’s Randy Handoko and Joshua Tjandra, creatives at Leo Burnett Jakarta, are the winners of this year’s Cannes Young PR Lions competition. The team from Colombia, Rony Saavedra and Manuel Barbosa Granados won Silver, and from Germany, Alexander Walter and Katharina Kiriakou claimed Bronze.

At the global final, Randy and Joshua competed against 26 national winners to be crowned the world’s best young PR creatives. Teams had 24 hours to create a global campaign based on a detailed brief from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The brief challenged competitors to create a campaign that would get the attention from youth around the world to help make a video combating racism. The winning campaign idea was a flight anti-racism video – a safety video created by youth around the world that protects travellers against racism.

Rob Morbin, ICCO Deputy Chief Executive, said:

“Congratulations Randy and Joshua, for developing a powerful campaign that I hope will come to life on every in-flight screen across the world. Their winning work sets the bar for the entire industry and is a celebration of creativity’s power to change the world for the better.”

Also, to our UK-based colleagues, on Wednesday, 29th June, the PRCA will be hosting a Cannes Debrief: Digital & Creative Groups (in-person networking) event for all interested to hear first-hand about what caught the judges’ attention this year.

Social & Influencer Lions Jury President, Caitlin Ryan – VP Creative Shop EMEA at Meta, in conversation with PRCA Digital Co-Chair, Candace Kuss, will show award-winning case studies, talk about inspiring work and emerging themes, and share top tips for 2023 submissions.

If you’d like to reserve a seat for this event, please register your interest here!

Dark Social: What Every PR Professional Needs to Know

By: Richard Benson, Founder, Releasd


Dark social. Never heard of it? You are not alone! However, research shows that most of the content generated by the PR industry is being shared and talked about within dark social channels. We just can’t see it.

So let’s find out what dark social is and why it’s so important to modern day public relations.

What is dark social? 

Some platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Reddit share data relating to how people are engaging with content. These are called ‘open’ social platforms.

In contrast, dark social media channels do not share this information. Activity takes place behind closed doors, often amongst carefully curated groups of friends, family and colleagues.

If you’ve ever shared or received content via WhatsApp, Slack, WeChat, Linkedin Messages or Meta (Facebook) Messenger for example, you have used a dark social platform. And don’t forget email and text messaging too. In fact, you’ve probably used a dark social platform in the last 30 minutes.

According to eMarketer, there will be 3.09 billion monthly messaging app users worldwide in 2021, up by 6.1% year over year. They also predict that more than three-quarters of internet users worldwide will use a messaging app monthly by 2024. Meanwhile, research from GWI shows that Whatsapp is now the world’s favorite social media platform. Other dark social channels feature heavily in the top ten.

Traditionally, dark social channels have offered greater personal privacy and control. Messages are encrypted. Advertisers are not given access to data. Here, trust is vital and mistakes are punished. The Guardian noted that ‘A poorly explained update to its terms of service has pushed WhatsApp users to adopt alternative services such as Signal and Telegram in their millions.’

PR content is devoured by dark social

The scale of activity that is taking place behind closed doors is staggering.  According to RadiumOne, a whopping 84% of content shares take place on dark social platforms. The implications for the PR and social media industry become clear when examining the types of content being shared: links to news stories, websites, blogs and products all feature heavily. Much of this content represents the bread and butter of the PR industry. In many cases, users are discovering news stories on open social platforms, then pulling them into private networks where true feelings can be discussed.

The opportunity for the PR industry

Professional communicators have long accepted that the appearance of media coverage is merely the beginning of a story, not the end. PRs have become adept at tracking its reaction across social media, under the impression that they’re seeing the full picture.

As we have shown, this is far from the case.

It may be the case that a majority of the action is happening out of view. In fact, some of the stories that have seemingly failed to get traction may have gone viral amongst niche groups of highly engaged peers. We’ve also seen that there’s likely to be a significant discrepancy between the sentiment of public vs private conversations.

But the opportunity this presents is potentially huge.

The PR industry is built on the concept that editorial is more influential and consequential than advertising. We can assume that, when friends share curated stories with one another in a safe environment, the impact is greater still. The understanding anxieties of younger audiences in particular should increase the usage of dark social for years to come.

The Barcelona Principles 3.0 encourage communicators to focus on the business outcomes and impacts of their work. Given its unparalleled potential to spark engagement and drive action, the role of dark social clearly cannot be underestimated.

At Releasd, we have attempted to measure the unmeasurable. Our PR reporting tool now includes metrics that estimate how much activity is taking place for a given story within dark social channels. To learn more about dark social and how we measure it, download the free Primer: What Every PR Needs to Know About Dark Social

Knowledge is Power: Rewards and Awards

One of the many definitions for Public Relations is the practice of managing and disseminating information for an organisation to the public to affect their public perception. So far so good. Many of you reading this will probably be thinking ‘why am I being told what I already know?’.

Well, there is a reason and that is the word ‘information’. It’s the cornerstone to knowledge in all its many manifestations and can have a powerful effect on campaigns. So, we want to take this opportunity to highlight how information acquired through market research cannot only help you reap rewards, but perhaps even win you an award.

When examining some of the most successful campaigns of recent years, unsurprisingly they were all informed by insight. That is to say, the messaging behind a campaign is developed with the help of research that helps them strike the right tone.

This is not hearsay. There’s a veritable bounty of award-winning campaigns whose creative direction was sparked by insight.

Take for example Don’t Cry Wolf’s activism campaign for Tangle Teezer. To create a campaign that could address a sensitive issue and more importantly prompt real change, Don’t Cry Wolf leant on research. The result was 3 awards, 2 finalists and 1 nomination.

That return is nothing to sneer at. And this is just one example. A former judge at Cannes Lions revealed that the one of the best campaigns he’s seen was driven by insight. He cited the example of a campaign by REI that one 9 (yes 9!) Lions.

Using insight gained via market research, REI developed a Twitter campaign that pushed back against the Black Friday buying rampage as the research found that its audience actually preferred not to shop on Black Friday. Insight sparked the idea that led to a wildly successful Twitter campaign that sparked a movement and challenged long-held assumptions about consumers.

Knowing this is one thing, but how can it help you? Well, these case studies can help you formulate your own campaigns. This advice comes not from us, but from Susie Walker, VP, Awards & Insights at LIONS. She recommends that those aspiring to win a Lion should learn from Lion-winning work.

If you look at some of the most creative campaigns of recent years, what connects them all is how they embraced insight and used it in their campaigns. Rather than seeing insight as an obstacle to creative, they used their new-found knowledge to get the creative juices flowing.

Let’s end with a word from Heather Kernahan, the CEO of Hotwire Global Communications. Heather is an ICCO partner and has won many awards for her work. Now, she has some advice for those who are looking to catapult into the pantheon of award winners:

“Knowledge is a powerful tool so embrace knowledge in all its forms. It won’t stop the creatives among you from coming up with all sorts of weird and wonderful ideas. Rather, it will give them a sense of structure and direction and help them to channel their efforts into the most productive avenues.”


Jane Hales who will be at Cannes Lions this year is the co-founder of the award-winning Sapio Research. Sapio Research is a full-service market research company supporting Agencies and Brands to make confident decisions or achieve extraordinary headlines. The team does this through their ABC process: Audience, Brand and Content Research.

PR’S Relationship with Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech and a free public relations business are interdependent in a democracy. In countries where freedom of speech is restricted, the pressure faced by journalists is also felt by public relations professionals. Only through a free press can PR function as an ethical business. To represent clients properly through both traditional and new media, freedom to speak the unfettered truth is a necessity. The loss of a free press and increasing state control, particularly of TV, radio, newspapers, and in some cases, of online media and communication channels, create an impossible landscape for PR agencies, particularly international ones, to operate. This is the current landscape in many European countries and around the world.

PR agencies and communications consultants often control or advise on the use of their clients’ social media accounts. These are key communication tools in every country and through them clients can reach the public with important, truthful messages. They can also be used by the public to more closely engage with clients (brands, politicians, influential individuals). Most governments wield little control over these platforms and therefore the regulations and standards are controlled by technology firms. Perhaps, there is no specific regulation (although that is changing and there is increasingly more content regulation applicable to social media, a recent example being Covid-19 laws targeting health misinformation), but there is censorship in many states across the globe. Also, platforms are often being accused of complicity with non-democratic regimes in removing politically undesirable content.

PR professionals are natural allies to trusted and independent journalists, news organisations, broadcasters, educational institutions, NGOs, and other think tanks in communicating and promoting freedom of media and freedom of speech. The logical conclusion is that PR professionals must not be silent on this issue.

This text is an excerpt from ICCO’s first White Paper: Modern Communications Challenges for Society (Click here: Global Communication Challenges 2022 to download)


This paper has been created to inform influential institutions on the important views of PR and communications experts regarding modern
challenges in communication.

It is to be used by institutions to inform their own decisions with regard to policy as well as to begin a dialogue with PR and communication experts.

Consider this paper as the start of a productive conversation in which we can openly exchange views and information relating to these critically important challenges and opportunities.

The challenges addressed may vary in extent internationally, but share overarching characteristics. The paper has been written to advise the
Council of Europe in the first instance, but with global contributions, it’s designed to be useful in any country or region in the world.

All three major challenges addressed in this paper overlap with one another and collectively form the three biggest communication challenges for society at the present time. Let’s tackle them together.

PROI Worldwide joins ICCO


PROI Worldwide is committed to pushing communications boundaries and leverages the influence of its team of business owners to solve client problems worldwide.

PROI Worldwide is a network of some of the world’s most ambitious entrepreneurial firms, bringing together like-minded PR business owners. Now part of the ICCO membership of associations, direct members and partners, PROI Worldwide’s members will have access to ICCO resources, events, services and networks. Members can also benefit from increased visibility in and outside the global PR industry.

Ciro Dias Reis, Global Chair, PROI Worldwide and CEO, Imagem Corporativa, Brazil said:

“Many of the 85 PROI Worldwide agencies around the world are involved with the national associations that are the core of ICCO, and we are pleased to now better integrate at the global level as well. We are looking forward to being part of the ICCO community and fostering collaboration for our members among the global PR industry.”

Rob Morbin, Deputy Chief Executive, ICCO said:

“We are delighted to welcome PROI Worldwide into the ICCO family of members and partners. PROI members are shining examples of professional, progressive agencies that share the values of ICCO, striving for continuous improvement and high standards.”

Diverse viewpoints, or misunderstanding? The importance of double checking the perspective.

I’m not a lover of Scrabble. Or word games. I find them quite tedious.

Wordle is a great lockdown phenomenon and it’s become quite a thing for my family and their friends.

During our recent San Francisco holiday I assiduously avoided playing, leaving them to it, as I had plenty of other distractions.

The second week of my trip (which had turned into work) and finding myself on my own with long nights in hotel rooms, uninclined to sit in restaurants on my own I gave it a go. It was a good distraction. I even worked out how to do the previous, daily versions of it, I was that bored. So, I was chuffed at achieving 26 solutions in a few days and soon reached a reasonable average guess number.

On the last morning of my trip, 8 hours behind the daily UK release, I saw in the family chat that my husband had solved a particularly difficult word. Having failed that day, the kids wanted hints, so he shared the answer.

My chance to score a ‘solved it in 1’ I thought. So, I got straight to it, dropping in the word of the day, Vivid. Boom!

But no. Even using his other words, I didn’t manage to solve it, so I again resorted to my own devices.

I later shared my screen shot complaining, thinking it must have been down to US spelling. But no. It turned out I’d downloaded an app that did the same thing, with a similar name (Wordly), but I was playing with a completely different set of words.

It turns out our regular family conversations, deliberately avoiding the details, the specifics, the spoilers meant that we were on completely different platforms. We felt we were on the same wavelength, doing things together, but we were miles away (and not just literately).

I am not up to speed on everything that was covered in the five South by Southwest conference themes, but I did see there was ‘The Power of Inclusivity’ track setup to deal with tackling the difficulty in incorporating diverse viewpoints. It made me wonder how often such issues are caused by not clarifying each party’s understanding of their start point or double checking the tools they’re using before running off in different directions, just like I did with Wordle.

The importance of sharing the same alignments and definition of industry terms with clients (or colleagues) shouldn’t be underestimated when trying to comprehend diverse viewpoints.

Understanding diverse perspectives, experiences and audiences are a constant fascination for us. I’ll be interested to hear what methods attendees of the SXSW track learn too.


Jane Hales is the co-founder of the award-winning Sapio Research. Sapio Research is a full-service, quantitative and qualitative market research company supporting Agencies and Brands to make confident decisions or achieve extraordinary headlines. They do this through their ABC process: Audience, Brand and Content Research.

Why acknowledging the system as biased is not enough

Maria Da Silva – PR & Influence Consultant at Agence Proches.

Every year–as we get closer to International Women’s Day–it is essential to reflect on the significance of this date and the reason behind our celebrations, as although it is a great thing to be able to dedicate a full day to celebrating women and their successes all around the world, it would be even better not to have to. The celebration of women and their place in society should be as mundane as that of men, and we should not have to wait for a rainy or sunny day in March to show our appreciation. Unfortunately, the relentless, seemingly everlasting, biases against girls and women has forced us to resort to decoys, such as celebratory dates, to showcase the “real” value of our contribution to society.

On this special day that is IWD, business leaders, and companies around the globe will put forward all the actions they’ve taken to promote their female talents. However, some of them will remain partially blind to the deliberate or unconscious bias female workers face in the workplace, whether it be from their managers, colleagues, clients, or even other female co-workers, bias is everywhere. We know it, we see it, we hear it, but only on occasion do we really fight it.

If political institutions and companies are taking more and more initiatives to promote women in positions of power, often helping bring a small percentage of diversity to their boards, we also need to focus on the “micro-biases” and aggressions that both high-level and junior level female employees can face. Acknowledging that the system is biased is not enough, and it is pressing time for change. To level the playing field, society needs to be acutely aware and on the lookout for situations in which a women can easily be dismissed or overlooked, and actively call them out. A zero-tolerance policy to micro-aggressions, unconscious biases, and other dismissive or limiting behaviors towards girls and women will greatly help in giving them courage to pursue their studies, careers, and dreams, without feeling like they are at a disadvantage because of their gender.

So, pay attention to the way women around you are treated, question the promotion of your male co-workers over your female ones, wonder why a certain task or subject was attributed to a woman when a man could have also done the job, don’t politely smile at the sexist remarks disguised as everyday humor or banter. Only strong, steadfast, outspoken support for the deliberate progress of women will help cement the fact we are real contributors to society and need to be seen as such.

Every day, women accomplish amazing things, as well as –and sometimes even better than– men. It is important to recognise that and reward them for it, not just on March 8th but every day.

Four Global Industry Leaders Inducted into ICCO Hall of Fame

The International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) inducted UK Government Communication Executive Director Alex Aiken, Nigerian PR trailblazer Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, and Global Women in PR co-founders Angela Oakes and Susan Hardwick into its exclusive Hall of Fame during today’s ICCO Global Awards ceremony.

Established in 2003, the ICCO Hall of Fame recognises those who have made exceptional progress in the internationalisation of the public relations industry, and who have combined cultural sensitivity with commercial acumen to create agencies that share global reach with local relevance.

The 2021 Class joins industry greats like Harold Burson, Richard Edelman, and Margery Kraus.


Alex Aiken, Executive Director for UK Government Communication, said:

“It’s an honour to be recognised alongside leaders of our industry like David Gallagher, Karen van Bergen and Barry Leggeter. And I’ve learnt from the work of many people that the ICCO have already recognised, from Harold Burson to the Edelman’s, and the late Lord Bell. I’m grateful to the ICCO and will use this recognition to redouble my efforts to promote effective, ethical and enterprising communication around the world.”


Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, President, African Public Relations Association (APRA), Group Managing Director, CMC Connect (Perception Managers), said:

“I am deeply humbled and honoured to have been elected into this famed hall of achievers in public relations. As I celebrate it, I am quickly reminded of how much more work we still have to do to ensure public relations is rightly valued. Many of our clients relate with us with great levels of ambiguity, which blunts our competitiveness. We as practitioners must collectively correct this anomaly through Affirmative Public Relations. I thank ICCO for recognizing Africa through me and as a continent, promise to continue our contributions to the advancement of global practice.”


GWPR Co-Founders Angela Oakes and Susan Hardwick said:

“We are both absolutely delighted to accept this award in recognition of the networking organisation we founded and developed – GWPR. Sue and I launched GWPR as a not-for-profit membership organisation in 2015. Our goal is to champion, connect and support women in senior roles in PR and Communications all over the world.

“Over the last six years we have successfully built a truly global membership organisation, with GWPR national networking groups and affiliates across Europe, Russia, India, Africa, the Middle East, Central America and Asia Pacific.  And in 2022 we are thrilled that the US will also be joining the GWPR global network.

“The gender issue of ‘women in the boardroom’ is high on the business agenda globally and although PR women dominate this industry worldwide, there remains a significant imbalance in the boardroom. We strongly believe that creating a better balance is important; not just for women, but for business as a whole. Not only do we shine a light on these issues, but we drive activity programmes to come up with solutions and help make change.

“Finally, we would wholeheartedly like to thank ICCO – and in particular Francis Ingham – for having faith in us and supporting us since the very beginning.”




Further information about the 2021 ICCO Hall of Fame Inductees:


Alex Aiken is the Executive Director for Government Communication covering international issues and national security. He is part of the leadership of the Government Communication Service and was appointed in December 2012. He had led the biggest government campaigns of the last decade on Covid, Brexit, and the GREAT Britain campaign. Between 2000 and 2012, he was Director of Communications and Strategy for Westminster City Council. Before joining Westminster he worked in Parliament and for Conservative Party. He has trained and advised politicians and officials in countries and states around the world in the practice of government and communications.


Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, or YBO, as he is popularly called, is one of the premier PR practitioners in Nigeria and Africa, with more than 30 years of experience. Having founded CMC Connect Limited in 1992, Yomi has consulted for many multinationals and governments in Nigeria and abroad in areas of government relations & legislative affairs, perception management, marketing, advertising, PR and crisis communications. He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) where he was past Chairman of the Lagos State Chapter. He also sits on the boards of several blue-chip companies in Nigeria. As part of his continued efforts at mainstreaming Africa into global PR practice, YBO has served as a Board Member of the International Public Relations Association (IPRA).

His love for Africa is evident in his selfless service to the African Public Relations Association (APRA) where he served as a two-term Secretary-General and is the current President. He was recently appointed as West Africa Chair for the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA). He has bagged several awards in his profession including the prestigious PR Golden Eagle Award as the Most Outstanding Public Relations Person of the Year 2010.


Angela Oakes is a PR professional with an impressive track record working with global multi-nationals on strategic brand development and integrated consumer campaigns. In the 1980s, Angela worked at several London-based PR agencies including Hill & Knowlton, Catalyst Communications and the Grayling Company, where she worked with the Grayling founder to help develop the business. This invaluable experience of seeing a successful agency being built from scratch led her to subsequently launch her own PR agency Oakes Bacot, later re-branded Treehouse PR.

Angela’s personal experience of the value of a networking organisation like WPR, at a time when she was juggling her own business with childcare responsibilities, spearheaded her decision to work with Sue Hardwick on launching Global Women in PR in 2015. She believes this is her legacy to the global PR industry and a clear demonstration of her passion to empower the next generation of PR women to become senior leaders.

Susan Hardwick was formerly a board director at one of the UK’s top PR consultancies (owned by Countrywide Porter Novelli), head of communications for a large retail chain, and ran her own business (Hardwick PR).

An experienced advisor on brand development and issues management, Sue handled a wide portfolio of UK and international clients. Clients ranged from FTSE 100 companies to top international sporting events. Whilst being primarily based in the UK her work was of a global nature masterminding communications programmes throughout Europe and the USA.

Being involved with Women in PR provided a very important support network when juggling running a business with being a mother. To have had the chance to then develop GWPR has been a significant part of Sue’s involvement in the PR industry. Networking remains an essential part of business life and to have helped to generate a worldwide group of organisations, supporting each other, has been a real high point and an important part of supporting women in an industry she loves.