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18 June

08.00 - 09.00  Breakfast Briefing: How to run a simulation exercise in your organisation

This breakfast briefing will reveal the key ingredients to plan and run an effective crisis simulation exercise to help protect the reputation of your organisation. As well as sharing common pitfalls to avoid, it will run through a checklist of critical elements to consider, prepare and deliver to ensure you get maximum value from your crisis simulation exercise.

Jonathan Hemus, Managing Director, Insignia

08.15 Registration and coffee

09.00 Chair’s opening remarks

John Shield, Director of Communications, BBC



09.15  Going off the rails: handling the media and public with all eyes on you

Every Christmas thousands of engineers are at work 24/7, repairing and replacing the tracks, points and signals whilst the railway is shut for two days. So what happens when this work over-runs? Passengers are stranded, and the media focuses on little else for days. With over 20,000 miles of tracks to maintain and modernise, and 2.5 million passengers a day, Network Rail is rarely out of the spotlight. But this took on a new meaning in December 2014 when King’s Cross and London Paddington were shut unexpectedly, leaving tens of thousands of holiday passengers stranded or suffering major delays. Barney Wyld will provide some key insights on these events from behind the scenes. He will give an objective account of what happened, and the lessons learnt in handling relentless stakeholder, public, media and government pressure.

Barney Wyld, Group Communications Director, Network Rail


09.45 Serco’s darkest hour:  managing crisis as it hits you from all angles

With the loss of its Chief Executive and Chairman, its share price dropping from £6 to £1.80, a fraud investigation, and four profit warnings over the last 18 months, Serco has had its share of bad news. Imagine being in the Communications Director’s shoes and being tasked with maintaining the company’s credibility to stakeholders and the public during this time. With the help of concrete examples such as the Cornwall out-of-hours GP controversy and allegations of sexual misconduct at a women’s immigration detention centre, Charles Carr will reveal what worked and what didn’t in dealing with a storm of crises.

Charles Carr, Director Communications, UK, European Local And Regional Government, Serco

10.15 10 th year anniversary bonus session

Andrew Griffin – chief executive of leading crisis, issues and reputation specialists Regester Larkin – will reflect on the last 10 years of crisis management: the key challenges faced, overcoming them in the future and predictions for the next 10 years. He will look at crises ranging from the Deepwater Horizon incident and the disappearance of MH370 to the volcanic ash cloud and the LIBOR scandal.

Andrew Griffin, Chief Executive, Regester Larkin

10.35 Morning refreshments



It’s no secret that good planning and preparation can massively help you in a crisis. Hear these twin-perspective case studies showcasing how to build a crisis management plan from scratch, and how good planning can prevent an incident from becoming a crisis.

11.05  Perspective one:  from local to global: managing international crisis and stakeholders

Explore how the world’s largest cruise industry trade association has been liaising with key international stakeholders to protect the industry’s reputation, which was severely damaged after the Consta Concordia tragedy took place across 12 different markets. It will reveal how security has become a major focus of the ship industry, coordinating closely with law enforcement agencies and regulators to work diligently on crisis preparation plans.

Tomas Matesanz, Head of Communications and Public Affairs,  Cruises Lines International Association Europe (CLIA)

11.20  Perspective two:  checking you’ve got a good plan: missing crew overboard in the Pacific Ocean

Clipper Round the World is the world’s longest ocean race – a unique biennial event which sees amateur sailors tackling a 40,000 nautical mile series of races around the planet. With international media covering the event, it is critical to have a sound incident management plan ready for any emergency. This session will explore the importance of a good plan, with dramatic examples of putting a plan into action when a life is at stake, and having to respond to global media interview requests from three continents.

Jonathan Levy, Global Business and Communications Director,  Clipper Ventures Plc


11.35  Developing the level of preparation and the awareness of your senior leaders before a crisis happens

Review and benchmark your current practices for preparing your senior leaders and:

  • Set up the right expectations:  ensure that your leaders understand the way to operate in a crisis, and that all key stakeholders are aware of their role
  • Mobilise and influence:  top tips to engage the board and senior leaders before a crisis
  • Build confidence:  make your board  believe  that your organisation has the right team, and best systems and processes in place to deal effectively with a crisis

Hari Miller, Head of Internal Communications, TSB


12.05  Lessons in crisis management to strengthen reputational resilience

Major crises such as the Germanwings tragedy, corruption allegations at FIFA and the Sony data hack are traumatic and challenging episodes in the life of an organisation. In this session, Jonathan Hemus, managing director of crisis management consultancy Insignia, will examine the biggest crises of the last twelve months, what was handled well and less well, and share the crisis management implications for other organisations.

 Jonathan Hemus, Managing Director,  Insignia

Praise for Crisis Communications 2015:

Great day at conference - thank you for inviting me!

Heather Wagoner  @ Heather_Wagoner

Informative and inspirational - great to hear from high-placed individuals in big UK companies.  

Reputation VIP   

Exciting, dynamic and enlighting event, I am going back to the office with my head buzzing with ideas!  

Master Yachts  

Great event and case studies - really insightful.  

Morgan Sindall Group plc    

Great insight into crisis comms across all PR Sectors  

Natural History Museum    

Fascinating to see how companies deal with really tough crises - lots of similarities which are reassuring  

Porter Novelli  

Contact us


Phone: 0208 267 4011

Contact us


Phone:  0208 267 4011

12.25  Lunch and networking opportunity

10 th year anniversary special: time to vote for the best and worst crisis management examples of the last decade!


Stay in the main plenary or choose the simulation theatre trackside

13.25 Afternoon’s chair remarks

Amanda Coleman, Head of Corporate Communications, Greater Manchester Police


13.35 Responding to one of the biggest health challenges of recent times

West Africa has been experiencing the biggest outbreak of the Ebola virus ever known. It has caused thousands of deaths, not to mention serious economic and political repercussions. Governments and worldwide organisations have been criticised for not reacting fast enough, charities have had difficulties providing help on the ground and spreading awareness messages, and countries have faced significant domestic challenges in terms of emergency preparation, explaining policy and sustaining public confidence. This powerful panel will bring different views on how the government and charities have been handling this issue on the communications front.

DFID and DH  will discuss how they’ve worked with each other and with other countries, the operational aspects of dealing with the media locally, digital innovations and more

ZoePaxton,  Head of News and Press Secretary to the Secretary of State , Department for International Development

Sam Lister, Director of Communications, Department of Health

Oxfam will speak about the difficulty of spreading messages and awareness at a community-based level

Tamsin O’Brien, Head of Media and PR, Oxfam

Save the Children will talk about their work on the ground and how they had to respond to worldwide media enquiries when a nurse contracted the virus

Richard Warburton, Director of Media, Save the Children

14.15 Getting on the front foot for the media’s curved ball

In this legal session, get an update on two new seismic legal and regulatory changes and get some key insights into the factors which determine whether the media will trash your brand when the opportunity presents itself. Prepare prior to the media contacting you about a story, learn how to impact on editorial decisions, develop the right team in place and allocate responsibilities before the story breaks. Explore the “golden hour” principle – a matter of PR life and death.

Jonathan Coad, Partner, Lewis Silkin


14.35 Panel discussion: working with other functions in the department

When a crisis hits, everyone in the organisation can have an impact - from the receptionist to the CEO. How can you ensure that communications are effectively liaising with all the key internal stakeholders? This exclusive panel will bring together professionals from communications, HR, intelligence, security and risk, as well as business continuity and legal, to discuss the role of each function, and how everyone should collaborate during a crisis. Hear different views that you have never heard before and bring back tips to implement in the office.

Communications/ HR - Markus Leutert, Deputy Director of Group Communications,  Walgreens Boots Alliance

Internal Communications/ Engagement  - Heather Wagoner, Head of Internal Communication and Engagement, London Underground

Legal -  Chris Scott, Partner, Schillings

13.10 - 14.10  Simulation theatre B

Social media crisis simulation

In this fun, interactive simulation session, practice in a group how to respond to social crises. A scenario will be given and you will have limited time to respond in your group, and make the right decisions under pressure! Challenge yourself and develop your social media skills in handling a crisis.

Places are limited, secure your place during registration

Facilitated by: Kate Hartley, COO, Polpeo

















14.15 - 15.15

Social media crisis simulation - repeat

Places are limited, secure your place during registration

Facilitated by: Kate Hartley, COO,  Polpeo
























15.15 Afternoon refreshments



15.35 From the newsroom: what do journalists pay attention to when reporting on a crisis story?

With digital and social overtaking our lives, taking 2 hours to respond is no longer effective – organisations need to react immediately. A news editor will highlight what it’s like to work in the newsroom, and how you - as a PR professional - can adapt to the media’s urgency and requirements. They will highlight the details they pay attention to when reporting on a (negative) story: does getting the CEO to speak make a difference, and what sort of things can influence or change the journalist’s perspective?

Simon Bucks, Associate Editor, Online, Sky News


16.05 Insights into The Co-operative Group’s crisis recovery plan

The Co-operative Group is renowned to have had a particularly difficult and challenging couple of years, following the discovery of a £1.5bn capital hole, a report criticising a ‘massive failure of governance’, and the separation of the Co-operative Bank. Gradually, the organisation has been refocusing on its membership ethos and strong ethical values, and has been working toward the recovery of its reputation. Russ Brady, Head of Group Public Relations at The Co-operative Group, will delve into how the business has started this rebuild process at a corporate level through the likes of the “Have Your Say” programme but also through business-led initiatives within its retail and consumer-services areas, such as the innovative introduction of “at cost” warranties within its online electrical business.

Russell Brady, Head of Group Public Relations, The Co-operative Group


16.35 General Motors’ Q&A Interview with PRWeek’s Deputy Editor

Held under the Chatham House Rule

With a wave of recent recalls, numerous deaths tied to General Motors’ faulty ignition switches, and a $35 million fine, the company’s reputation has been challenged to its core.  Despite these issues, many have praised the company’s response, in particular using multiple digital media platforms to display a strong and genuine message, as well as the CEO’s effort to engage and communicate directly with the families, customers, employees and public. This exclusive session features General Motors’ Executive Director, Product and Technology Communications,  Terry Rhadigan in a Q&A interview led by PRWeek ’s Deputy Editor – John Harrington. They will talk about the challenges encountered, the methods of communications used and learnings along the way.

Terry Rhadigan, Executive Director, Product and Technology Communications, General Motors

Interviewed by:  John Harrington, Deputy Editor, PRWeek

17.05 Chair’s closing remarks

Announcement of the winners of the best and worst crisis handling of the last decade, decided by you!

17.15 End of conference – leaving you ready to tackle your next - big or small - crisis!