Sapio Research Join ICCO as New Partner for 2022

Sapio Research is an award-winning, international full-service market research consultancy and has joined ICCO as Research Partners for 2022. Sapio offers quantitative and qualitative research, welcoming complex, challenging briefs. They can help to formulate the approach, to create the scope and design the process. This is done through ABC: Audience understanding, Brand research and Content research.

Jane Hales, Co-Founder and Director, Sapio Research said:

“I am delighted Sapio has become ICCO’s new exclusive research partner, this is an endorsement of our excellent relationship with the PR industry and ability to deliver Audience, Brand and Content Research. We look forward to working with ICCO and their member agencies around the world to deliver valuable work in 2022, including the World PR Report later in the year”.

Rob Morbin, Deputy Chief Executive, ICCO said

“Adding Sapio Research to ICCO’s roster of recommended partners will support our members around the world by offering quality, precise research with an international outlook. Facts and evidence are the cornerstone of good communication and quality research allows our members to develop storylines and decisions with confidence”

To find out more please contact Jane Hales, Co-Founder and Director,

CMS More Accessible with 5 New Auditors Added to Roster

For more than 20 years, PRCA and ICCO have offered CMS audits framework for independent certifications to help agencies be accountable and to improve their business processes. Customers’ growing demand for trust and accountability is fuelling a desire from clients to work with more quality certified agencies.

The growing international demand for certifications has, in turn required ICCO to actively grow its pool of approved auditors, making the standard more globally acknowledged and accessible in alternative languages. The most recent a CMS auditor development course took place in Vienna from 16th to 18th February, hosted at the premises of The Skills Group. Organised by ICCO’s audit partner organisation

Five distinguished PR experts and ICCO board members have successfully passed a state-accredited auditor exam under the auspices of the inspection organisation TÜV, comparable to BSI or ISO.

Now AgencyExperts has a growing pool of international CMS auditors who can be booked to run quality certifications in communications agencies and in in-house comms departments. The newly certified CMS auditors are all in the leadership teams of their national PR associations and experienced agency managers:

Alexander Dourchev, Bulgaria
Dimitris Roulias, Greece
Patrik Schober, Czech Republic
Andras Sztaniszlav, Hungary

(Photo: from left to right, incl. Anita Mohl, CEO AgencyExperts, Juergen H. Gangoly)

The new auditors are enlarging ICCO’s and AgencyExperts existing auditor team with experts from 11 different countries, additionally including Austria, Germany, Egypt, Switzerland, and the UK. With the PR associations of Ireland and Turkey also processing audits.

The next CMS auditor development course shall take place in autumn 2022. If you would like more information about gaining CMS accreditations or becoming a certified auditor, contact

Almost a third of PR leaders ‘Open to 4-day week’

London, 21st February, 2022


23% of global communications leaders are interested in trialling a four-day working week with no reduction in pay and a further 9% have already adopted the model, according to new research published by the ICCO and PRCA.

The study – conducted by Question & Retain – follows a recent PRCA MENA study revealing UAE professionals believe they work more efficiently under the new four and a half day working week adopted in UAE.

128 CEOs, Directors, and Department Heads took part in the latest ICCO and PRCA  quarterly Confidence Tracker, which assesses market confidence in the global public relations industry.

Market confidence boost

The study reveals impressive levels of confidence amongst PR and communications leaders. The research shows more than two-thirds (72%) of PR agencies and in-house teams globally are hiring and almost nine out of 10 (87%) respondents are ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’ about the future of their organisation – this is a three percentage point rise since the last Confidence Tracker in October 2021.

Download the ICCO results here and the PRCA results here.


ICCO Chief Executive and PRCA Director General and  Francis Ingham MPRCA said:

“The data from our latest Global Confidence Tracker is very encouraging. Market confidence around the world is now higher than at any point since the beginning of the pandemic and the growing confidence is reflected in the number of organisations hiring. The four-day working week is an interesting proposition for agencies and in-house teams, many of whom are looking for creative ways to attract and retain the most talented professionals. The model won’t work for everyone but there are clear benefits for those willing to embrace change.”

PR Rising Star Victoria McNish on nurturing a career in political communications

In December 2021, Victoria McNish won the Rising Star of the Year award at the ICCO Global Awards—another crowning moment to add to an already impressive run in the industry. Having studied politics at Durham University, McNish’s career began in Parliament working in an MP’s office, followed by a two-and-a-half-year stint at public affairs agency Newington Communications. In 2019, she took up post as a consultant at DGA Interel UK where she worked her way up to Account Director. Outside of her time at DGA Interel, McNish serves as a mentor for I Have a Voice; a social enterprise working to improve political literacy among young people in the UK from disadvantaged backgrounds. She also sits on the industry’s youth committee – NextGen Public Affairs.


ICCO: Can you describe how you were first drawn to communications?

Victoria McNish, Account Director at DGA Interel, won the ICCO Global Award for Rising Star of the Year in 2021.

VM: I always wanted to pursue a career in the world of politics and having started my career working in Parliament for an MP, I came to realise how important it is that businesses and organisations contribute to the policy development process. As the on-the-ground experts in their field or sector, it is critical that businesses and organisations communicate their insights and make recommendations to decision makers. Political communications – or public affairs as it is better known – provided the perfect opportunity for me to do just that.

ICCO: What do you most enjoy about working in communications?

VM: For me, it has to be strategizing. From sitting down with a new client to get to grips with their bottom line or the regulatory barrier they face, to working with them to identify their desired political or policy outcome and translating that into a comms objective, and then mapping the path to get them from point A to B. Then the hard work starts!

ICCO: What are your thoughts on being nominated for and winning the 2021 ICCO Global Rising Star of the Year award?

VM: I was delighted just to be put forward by my very supportive colleagues, let alone be nominated or to have won. While it’s a personal achievement I’m very proud of, I am also pleased to bring a bit more recognition to ‘public affairs’ and why what we do is important as a lesser-known contingent in the comms world.

ICCO:  Which one of your most recent campaigns or projects are you especially proud of contributing to?

VM: I am most proud of the work my team did to support the UK’s beauty and wellbeing industry during the pandemic. The industry was one of the worse affected having been completely shut down with no access to cash flow. In the Government’s first lockdown lifting plan in 2020, they were bottom of the list with no reopening timeline and its thousands of practitioners – 85% which are women – were mocked by male MPs and the PM himself during PMQs. Our 4x award winning (5th pending!) #NotALaughingMatter campaign resulted in a momentous step-change in how the industry is perceived, and not only was it one of the first to reopen in April 2021 alongside non-essential retail, but the Government also set up a whole new ‘Personal Care’ team in Whitehall dedicated to supporting the sector.

ICCO: Are there any personal characteristics or skills that communications demands of you (or anyone) that you’ve developed in your role?

VM: Flexibility in communication approach and the ability to constantly adjust this is a key skill and one that I’m constantly learning – both externally and internally. Whether it’s how to best communicate a client’s position to political stakeholders while in keeping with their style and tone or changing the approach you take to each differing client relationship, or how you communicate with those on your own team internally in a way that best suits their needs and ways of working.

McNish’s DGA Interel team also won the Public Affairs award at the PRWeek UK awards in 2021 for the ‘#notalaughingmatter’ for the APPG on Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing’ campaign.

ICCO: As agencies battle for top talent, what would you say to a young person considering a career in communications to convince them it was the right choice? And what do firms need to do to retain their best staff?

VM: I would always recommend comms as a sector where young people have the opportunity to hit the ground running and progress fast. You are often thrown in the deep end and have to learn as you go, but you are surrounded by colleagues who’ve done exactly the same thing and can provide you with the safety net you need. Many agencies offer staff the opportunity to seize ownership of projects early on and move up at regular intervals, which is a great incentive for bright, ambitious individuals. Yet people shouldn’t have to arrive first and leave last to prove themselves. Agencies should empower staff to take on new challenges and progress, while also offering them a fair work life balance, a family-feel atmosphere and wellbeing support. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, which is a great thing about working at DGA Interel.

ICCO: How do you think public affairs will change over the next five years? (The way it’s conducted, the priority issues, influence of social media, tech etc)

VM: The pandemic has already had an irreversible impact on public affairs. Where once you could be waiting weeks for a politician to fit you in for a Portcullis House coffee, now if you capture their interest, you’re set for a zoom two days later. While the pace of engagement is quicker (I’ve had calls with MPs as they hop on a train back to their constituency), I question whether the same depth of relationships will be built over the screen as in person, and whether the ability to influence will be diminished as a result.

On the other hand, social media has already changed the way we communicate and will continue to do over the next 5 years. DGA Interel recently polled MPs and found that 95% check social media at least once a day, 49% say their use has increased during the pandemic, and 45% say it is important for engaging with business, charities and stakeholders. We now have an integrated digital unit as more and more of our clients are seeking this kind of support to run really effective political campaigns.



This is part 2 of a 2-part interview series with 2020 and 2021’s ICCO Rising Stars of the Year. Click HERE for interview with 2020’s winner; markettiers’ Max Mitchell.

HAHM SHOUT DOODLE Makes History as first South Korean PRCA Member 

HONG KONG, 25th January, 2022 – The Public Relations and Communications Association Asia-Pacific (PRCA APAC) has announced Hahm Shout Doodle as its first ever South Korean corporate member.

Hahm Shout Doodle is a full-service PR and marketing agency, offering strategy, PR and risk management, digital, creative and influencer solutions. They work with more than 300 clients across industrial, distribution, culture and entertainment.

The PRCA’s regional voice in South Korea will also be strengthened with Hahm Shout Doodle’s CEO, Siwon Hahm, joining its PRCA APAC Board.

As the world’s largest professional PR association, the PRCA has become the leading body for communications professionals across the Asia-Pacific, with members in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, and now South Korea.


PRCA Director-General Francis Ingham MPRCA said:

“Raising professional standards all around the world depends on our ability to understand nuances across local regions. We want every PR professional in South Korea and across the wider APAC region to have access to world-class support and representation. And so, it’s a pleasure to welcome one of South Korea’s most dynamic PR agencies – Hahm Shout Doodle – to PRCA APAC, as well as the esteemed Siwon Hahm to the Board.”


Siwon Hahm MPRCA, CEO of Hahm Shout Doodle, said:

“As the newest member of the PRCA Asia Pacific, Hahm Shout Doodle is truly excited for the various global networking opportunities our inclusion in the PRCA will present. As a representative of Korea, we look forward to sharing our know-how and expertise with the esteemed member agencies of the PRCA and are eager to begin the highly fruitful partnerships.”



The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) is the world’s largest professional PR body.

We represent more than 35,000 PR professionals in 82 countries worldwide. With offices in London, Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore, and Buenos Aires, we are a global advocate for excellence in public relations.

Our mission is to create a more professional, ethical, and prosperous PR industry. We champion – and enforce – professional standards around the world through our Professional Charter and Code of Conduct. The Code compels members to adhere to the highest standards of ethical practice.

We deliver exceptional training, authoritative industry data, and global networking, and development opportunities.

We also manage the International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) – the umbrella body for 41 PR associations and 3,000 agencies across the world, and LG Comms – the UK’s national body for local government communicators. Additionally, we support the delivery of the Motor Industry Communicators Association (MICA).



Hahm Shout Doodle is the industry FIRST MOVER which constantly drives innovation, creating value through communication. Whereas most PR agencies settle for PR 2.0, Hahm Shout Doodle leads the industry with IBC (Integrated Business Communication) that produces real business results.

As a First Mover in the era of Communication 4.0, we aim to become a leader in the communication ecosystem through PR/marketing services, online and offline integrated advertising, and marketing automation platform business. Helping business succeed with integrated communication service, Hahm Shout Doodle is Korea’s leading PR & marketing agency moving the market with communication.

Hahm Shout Doodle boasts professional expertise in each field of business, including strategic planning, operation, design, video production, advertising, etc. to provide optimal solutions for the specific characteristics and circumstances of clients.

PR rising stars reflect on their careers and the industry: An interview with Max Mitchell (part 1 of a 2-part series)

Gifted with a talent for editorial narratives and a perfect environment for professional growth, markettiers Team Head Max Mitchell, reflects on his career journey, including winning the 2020 Rising Star of the Year award at the 2020  ICCO Global awards.

Mitchell got his start at markettiers—a leading broadcast PR agency generating creative national, regional and international campaigns—six years ago. After completing a Media Studies course at Kingston College, Mitchell reached out to markettiers’ CEO, who set him up with an internship. When his stint as an intern ended, Mitchell was offered a full-time role in the company’s newsroom. Now, he works as a Team Head, a position he’s held for the last two years.


ICCO: Can you walk us through your roles/ career up to now including your time at markettiers?

MM: I started my career at 21 within markettiers’ newsroom. I was introduced to, and worked with, ex-journalists and broadcast experts who taught me what makes a good editorial story, how to pitch to broadcast and the importance of understanding the needs of different media.

My role then moved from media-facing to client-facing as I became a Senior Account Executive and began taking my experience of the media to clients, advising, and reviewing current PR plans through the lens of landing broadcast media.

After a few years I climbed the ranks, and eventually, when I was a Senior Account Manager, I lead a team of 6 people. My role was very much about leading from the front and to help nurture and grow the team as we continued to bring on more brands.

The team grew to eight to 10 individuals and my role then included ensuring we continue to hit commercial targets and milestones. At which point, I was promoted to my current role as a Team Head.

ICCO: What attracted you to a career in communications?

MM: Growing up I always loved watching TV and going to the cinema. If you look at that as a standalone statement everyone’s first reaction would be ‘ooh he’s a bit lazy,’ but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Unlike most people, I loved the adverts and always wondered why they all looked and sounded so different.

What this ultimately meant for me is I excelled in anything in school that included media and allowed me to get answers to those questions. Eventually, my interest shifted from wondering why brands were talking and sounding the way they did to how and why those particular words were chosen and positioned the way they were. I ended up meeting the head of markettiers, who gave me the opportunity to join their newsroom, where I fell in love with editorial narratives. I never looked back.

Max Mitchell, winner of the 2020 ICCO Rising Star of the Year award and Team Head at leading broadcast PR agency, markettiers.

ICCO: What aspect of your work do you enjoy the most?

MM: I’m going to cheat a bit on this answer because I honestly feel that without any one of these things in my day-to-day my job just wouldn’t be the same.

Firstly, the variety of clients I get to work with is extraordinary. I can be helping to launch a new vegan food product from a well-known high-street retailer on Monday, by Wednesday be championing small businesses and helping traditional bricks and mortar businesses digitally upskill and broaden their offering, and finish the week off making sure an environmental charity’s B-roll has had a touch point with international media in South America.

None of that, however, would be possible without my colleagues, whom I adore more than they know, and being a team lead puts me in a unique position where I can interview and help bring new, amazing, and diverse talent into the industry and into my team, to ensure we can continue our great work.

ICCO: How has your work life evolved over the past 2 years, not only in terms of your win but also the pandemic?

MM: Completely. And I don’t mean this just in the way that I now work from home most of the time in comparison to how I used to. The beginning of the pandemic for me was such a learning curve. I watched our senior team completely re-organise and re-focus a 100+ people workforce, not out of fear or worry but out of understanding that media habits were changing and therefore we must too (despite how comfortable we have become in the 27 years the company has been going), which is no easy feat, let alone to do it successfully.

This meant that my team and I had to, in essence, forget a lot of what we knew and spend even more of our time understanding media habits, needs and wants to ensure that we could continue to guide our clients through an ever-changing media landscape and continue to do great work for them.

ICCO: Has there been a campaign or project over the past year that you’re especially proud of contributing to?

MM: Absolutely. I run the team within markettiers that works with Freuds and the Cabinet Office on their Covid response within broadcast. Since the beginning of the pandemic, our role has been to use radio and TV to ensure the messaging around keeping safe, getting vaccinated and alike have cut through.

I’m extremely proud to have been a part of the current drive to make the UK the leading country in the vaccination programme and if even just one person listened and did something which ultimately saved theirs or a loved one’s life… that’s a job well done as far as I’m concerned. However, we know the reality is that many thousands have been reached and influenced by our work in a valuable way.

ICCO: Is there a personal characteristic that you feel has been greatly developed through your work in PR and communications?

MM: Through all its pros and cons, I have always been a pretty empathetic and understanding person, and this for me has continued to develop as we continue to work with a variety of diverse brands: the only way to truly communicate to diverse groups is to try and understand their hopes, dreams, fears, and cultural differences beyond just demographic.

ICCO: What are your thoughts on the importance of ethical PR & Communications globally?

MM: Being ethically sound should be strong in everything we do, and PR & Comms is no different. I personally believe there is a high standard of ethics within the industry but of course there is more that can be done, not least by actively engaging and supporting the individuals and organisations making those changes.

ICCO: ICCO’s World PR Reports over the last two years have revealed that retaining talent is the industry’s number 1 challenge. As a young person in the industry, do you have suggestions regarding ways PR leaders can nurture and retain the talent of younger employees?

MM: This is such an interesting question because I don’t think we can understate how important fresh, ambitious, and diverse groups of young talent are in this ever-changing industry and world. I also don’t feel this topic needs to be over complicated.

We work in an industry where businesses boast and win awards for reaching and changing the perceptions of everyone from the general public to the most discreet groups. Saying that, you would think we should have the highest rate of retention! Yet the truth is behind closed doors they lose young staff due to lack of understanding, listening and communication.

My advice for PR leaders is this: truly want to teach the next generation, share, and recognise the successes and compensate the pressures. I genuinely believe at markettiers my senior team care for me, want me to succeed and, although I’m not perfect, make sure through my career I’m on the straight and narrow. And for that I give them my loyalty and best.

Ultimately, be as great at communicating with your team as you are your clients. Be empathetic, give space to grow and celebrate growth that comes from the inevitable bumps in the road. In essence, make everyone feel we are all in this together.



This is part 1 of a 2-part interview series with 2020 and 2021’s ICCO Rising Stars of the Year. Visit News – ICCO PR next week for an interview with 2021’s winner; Interel’s Victoria McNish.

Cannes Young Lions PR Competitions to begin in March

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) has opened three prestigious Cannes Young Lions PR Competitions managed by PRCA UK, PRCA MENA, and PRCA APAC, respectively.

Sponsored by the International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) and in partnership with PRovoke Media, the Cannes Young Lions PR competition celebrates outstanding creativity and recognises excellence among up-and-coming public relations and communications professionals.

Competing teams from across the world enter a pre-selection process in their own country established by their local Cannes Lions representatives. PRCA UK, PRCA MENA, and PRCA APAC will join other associations around the world in hosting regional competitions before the world’s very best young professionals compete for the coveted global prize.

Key registration dates and information can be found on the respective PRCA websites.

– PRCA UK page
– PRCA MENA page
– PRCA APAC page

ICCO will host ‘Cannes Uncovered’ on 8th February to discuss all things Cannes Lions, including tips for this year’s Young Lions entrants, register here.

How does the competition work?
Briefed by a charity or NGO, teams of two – aged 31 years old or younger – will have just 24 hours to shape a PR strategy that demonstrates creative process, connects with the organisation’s brand values, engages with the public, and builds relations with relevant stakeholders. The campaigns will be judged by a selection of local industry experts with the winner of each region awarded the opportunity to compete digitally for the global crown at the Young Lions Marketers Competition 2022. The crowned winner will then have the option of attending the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2022.

PRCA Director General Francis Ingham MPRCA said:

“This is the most prestigious competition for any young person in our industry. My advice to anyone thinking of entering? Be fearless and authentic. This is a wonderful opportunity for a young team to shine on a global stage. Best of luck to all our entrants – the PR world will be watching.”

Visit here for more information about Cannes Lions.

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.

Ketchum shine at ICCO Global Awards

Ketchum companies clinched the most wins with five at the ICCO Global Awards: Purpose, Digital and New Media, Influencer Marketing, Financial Services and Media Relations.

Fleishman Hillard claimed the team award for Network of the Year as well as the team award for Championing Diversity. BECG won Independent Consultancy for the Year, while the Grand Prix Prize for the best campaign of the year went to Fanclub PR for ‘Mount Recyclemore’. Leader of the year was Dr Vivien Chiong from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.


The awards, sponsored by CARMA, Vuelio, thenetworkone, Milk and Honey PR and M&A Advisory, took place online and were hosted by ICCO Chief Executive Francis Ingham. Finalists from Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States competed for 25 prizes.

Alison Clarke, Awards Jury President, said:

“As the challenges of the pandemic have continued throughout 2021, the awards entries show that agencies have responded with impressive campaigns at the heart of critical global issues, creative commercial work, and impactful ideas. What all the winning campaigns share across a wide variety of countries and cultures, is that they achieved tangible results in line with their strategic objectives. It was a joy to see the work and I’m greatly encouraged by this evidence that the industry is in great shape”.

The full list of winners is as follows:

Healthcare Award – sponsored by PRovoke

Walgreens Boots Alliance and Hill+Knowlton Strategies/WPP – Walgreens Combats Health Disparities During the COVID-19 Pandemic with Its Vaccine Equity Initiative



Digital and New Media Award – sponsored by BlackHouse Media

Ketchum London – Bodyform/Libresse – Pain Museum



Best Cross Cultural Campaign




Purpose Award

Ketchum & McCann and CARAT – Mastercard – The Strivers Initiative



Broadcast Award




Influencer Marketing Award

Ketchum & Omnicom Public Relations Group – The Incredible Egg Challenge



B2B Award – sponsored by M&A Advisory

Kurio – Framery One – The First Connected Sound Proof Pod


Financial Services Award

Ketchum, McCann & Carat – MastercardThe Strivers Initiative



Strategy and Evaluation in a Campaign – sponsored by CARMA

Methods and Mastery – Biden for President Influencer Activation



Media Relations Award

Ketchum Austria – New German Media Makers #WeatherCorrection



Public Affairs Award

Interel UK – APPG – On Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing #notalaughingmatter



Event, Launch or Stunt Award

Fanclub PR – Mount Recycelmore



Consumer Award

W7Worldwide – Healthcare Innovation for the Saudi Market



Technology Award

Fanclub PR – Mount Recycelmore



Not-for-Profit Award

Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation and Hill+Knowlton Strategies – Making the Global Goals Personal


Lifestyle Award

Orta Communications – Barbie, «You can be anything», with Anna Kikina



Automotive and Transport Award

Value360 India – ANCHORING in the storm of national unrest: MG Motor India



Crisis & Issues Award

FleishmanHillard Vanguard – Avon Campaign Against Domestic Violence



Employee Communications

Pragma komunikacjie  Internal Product Launch for Takhzyro


Grand Prix: Overall Campaign of the Year

Fanclub PR – Mount Recycelmore



Rising Star of the Year

Victoria McNish, Interel UK



PR Leader of the Year

Dr Vivien Chiong, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore



Championing Diversity




Independent Consultancy of the Year – sponsored by The Network One




Network of the Year – sponsored by CARMA


ICCO Global Summit: Learnings and future action

The ICCO Global Summit – which brings together the brightest minds in the industry to discuss and advance new ideas and catalyse innovation through dialogue and collaboration– returned as a hybrid event this year. Over two days, we listened and learned from PR and communications experts and futurists from over 30 different countries.

How did it go? From the reactions pouring in from PR leaders across the world, I would say the Summit went incredibly well. We came away with new approaches and gameplans that will help us navigate our everchanging world, prioritise our employees and local community members, engage in deeper and more courageous conversations and engineer an enduring legacy for our industry and our world.

We had some great content with talent, integrated communications, purpose, ESG, and transparency coming out as key themes. My takeaways from the Summit which should be acted upon right now:

Invest in your people’s well-being – nothing is more important

We all are aware that the Covid-19 aftermath put greater emphasis than ever on the well-being of workforces. Mental health has emerged as one of the key subjects in discussions around employee welfare. And really, we’d be foolhardy to ignore this much-needed conversation. Look at what’s happening to those who have done that. They are bearing the brunt of the Great Resignation. In all the discussions on talent at the Summit, the top reasons cited for people leaving included excessive workload, toxic culture, lack of recognition, inequitable work-life balance, and unfair treatment. Which means, workforces today will no longer lay low and tolerate sub-par working conditions.

If we want to retain talent and expect them to be sincere and committed, we must prioritise creating work environments that make them feel seen, heard, and recognised. According to The Bravery Mandate, WE’s 2021 Brands in Motion Reports, respondents have rated employee wellbeing and personal needs (physical, mental, and financial) as the most important issue. And employees have been rated as the group leaders need to communicate with the most (over customers, shareholders, and the media).

Flexibility is the key in this new era

In 2022 and beyond, we must make it our purpose to rebuild a company culture that has employee engagement, growth, and welfare at its core. To do that we must move with the times and find a middle ground, starting with embracing the hybrid work model with new openness. Surveys have shown that many employees would like to continue remote work, while some want to return to work in an office. Flexibility is the key here.

Important data for your consideration:

  • Surveys have shown that flexible and remote working is more important than financial benefit for employees.
  • Flexible working has gone up by 91% this year (for men and women) in PR.
  • Remote working has gone up by 20% in one year.

The hybrid model will differ from office to office. Regardless of how it is executed, organisations must exercise empathy and listen to employees’ feedback and then incorporate them in their decision-making. Forcing employees to come to work full time is clearly not favoured.

Help employees cope with mental health issues

The pandemic has exacerbated people’s mental health problems, and it is our responsibility to equip our employees with tools and resources to protect their mental well-being. This can be done in the following ways:

  • Conduct regular employer surveys to detect and understand mental health problems in the organisation. During the pandemic, we had conducted several surveys, which had specific questions on mental health, and that helped us gauge the problems faced by our people.
  • Drive awareness and action on mental health by encouraging people to openly talk about mental health and back up that talk with action. For example, my firm launched a #WECare initiative, a couple of years back, to improve people’s mental and physical health. As part of this programme, we host webinars with mental health experts and encourage our people to discuss their problems.
  • Make mental health services more accessible to employees. Here again, I will give another example from my firm. We launched an ‘Employee Assistance Program’ to provide counselling services to employees. The initiative includes a mental well-being support helpline and free access to resources such as open webinars, reading material, to name a few.
  • Strive for work-life balance. I know that sounds impossible in the PR industry, but push back on unrealistic demands and deadlines whenever possible.

Bottomline: To make the industry more attractive to young talent, we must continue to champion our people: ensure that they feel good about the company they work for, their contributions, and the company’s larger purpose—and that they tell their friends about it. Annabel Dunstan’s, Founder and CEO, Question and Retail, four-point plan for people retention hit the right chord with me: Listen Better, React Better, Feedback Better and Engage Better.

Break down the silos – integration is the way forward

Agility is key in 2022 and beyond. We cannot deliver on client expectations and manage them if we don’t creatively collaborate and integrate our services. The World PR Report has shown that the industry continues to have the best of both worlds – old school skills are still heavily in demand, but digital competence, insight, corporate reputation management and strategic counsel continue to power ahead.

We already own digital and continue to provide non-PR services such as marketing and advertising, and this dynamic merger is paying dividends, as was pointed out by Francis Ingham. But we must challenge ourselves to incorporate more integrated capabilities into our campaigns. For this, we need to build a team of people from diverse professional backgrounds. PR jobs have already evolved over the past decade, and we are seeing new roles such as insights and analytics experts, data specialists, social media managers, brand journalists, to name a few. As the economy and job markets evolve, new roles will emerge.

According to a report released by The World Economic Forum, 97 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between human, machines, and algorithms over the next five years. We must be ready to bring together different species of PR specialists to continue to demonstrate our value. I know hiring from outside the industry is a pain point, but if we can demonstrate our value, show that the possibilities are limitless when you work in PR, and focus on the wellbeing of our people, we will attract diverse talent.

Bottomline: Integrated communications is a tremendous asset that will help our clients achieve an even greater level of brand and product success, through strong integrated storytelling across the entire media ecosystem. We just have to be passionate about helping clients solve challenges and create approaches that incorporate the right blend of capabilities.

Purpose means bold and brave action

Only brands that have the courage to take bold and long-term action on deep and complex issues will flourish in 2022 and beyond. The days of armchair activism are over. A decade ago, consumers would believe whatever a brand said if it was said with confidence and aplomb. But today, where information access is at our fingertips, consumers will look for evidence. Sustainability pledges that won’t come due for decades to come aren’t good enough. The people in your community need to see the impact of your actions with their own eyes.

During most of the discussions at the Summit, the call for businesses to increase their environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG) performance was stronger than ever. More and more consumers are expecting socially responsible and sustainable practices across industries and business sectors. Investors and policymakers too are seeking out and supporting businesses that prioritise ESG. Even consumers and B2B decision-makers surveyed for the latest WE Brands in Motion report, rated environmental sustainability and income equality among the top issues brands must address.

Bottomline: As their strategic partners, it will be a key communications priority to help brands create an authentic purpose legacy by building on their core promise and making deep and sustained investments in the issues their stakeholders care about most.

The power of integrity and transparency can’t be overlooked

The profound upheavals of the past 18 months have made the clamour for authenticity a business imperative. As the Executive Director for Communications, UK Government, Alex Aiken, said, “Truth and openness are more important than ever in modern communications.” A few recommendations on how we can go about it:

  • Always defend the truth: The erosion of trust in the media and the proliferation of social channels and online sources of news have resulted in a misinformation surge. As communicators, we must be scrupulous about the facts of any story we promote and hold both clients and journalists accountable. It is our moral responsibility to work with only recognised experts to bring fact-based, unbiased information to our clients and their stakeholders. Everything published must be attributed to a credible source. For this, we must consider investing in fact-
    checking tools.
  • Fight for a free press: Communicators should do their part in restoring faith in free media and free speech – both essential to an effective PR business. The need of the hour: a concerted effort by all stakeholders – communications firms, news organisations, brands, technology providers and users – to sustain a vibrant, authentic media.
  • Use technology responsibly: Technology will continue to present golden opportunities to innovate and advance. But we must strike a balance between innovation and ethics and choose what works best for our clients without sacrificing consumer privacy.
  • Amplify communications efforts by government agencies: In any public health crisis, a government often faces challenges in conveying messages to the public and in the absence of information, people fall prey to misinformation. PR professionals should consider how they can use their gift of communications to support government efforts by creating and delivering powerful, persuasive messaging. For, example, to counter anti vaccination campaigns, a game-changing collaboration of vaccine stakeholders, supported by communication strategists, is the need of the hour.
  • Stick to your values: We are cognisant of the fact that for PR agencies, our clients are our customers. And, just like their customers, clients today are more inclined towards working with agencies that put purpose over profits – agencies that really care about their people, community, and the environment they operate in. And that is what our employees – arguably our most important stakeholders – expect of us too. Employees want to work with organisations that they can be proud of. Surveys have shown that Millennials and Gen Z will be only willing to work if their values are aligned with a company. So, while we counsel our clients on purpose, we also need to put our money where our mouth is. If we think a brand’s actions are against our values, we must choose ethics over commerce and have the courage and conviction to push back.

Bottomline: The responsibility to maintain ethical standards extends to every single member of the PR fraternity. Till the time we walk the talk, we will not find a cure to the industry’s ethical dilemma.

In conclusion, I hope communications continues to be a catalyst of change. The pandemic has shone a light on the vital importance of communications and PR. But we cannot be complacent. We need to keep communicating from a place of purpose, clarity and empathy and show people a new way forward – a way that illuminates our shared humanity.

Nitin Mantri
President, ICCO
Group CEO, AvianWE