Agenda 2022

Tuesday 28 June 2022, London, UK


08:30 Realistic scenario for hands-on experience in managing a crisis

Start the morning off with a bang as we go straight into a practical scenario session where you can work through a crisis and determine how best to deal with it.


09:30 Chair's opening remarks


09:35 CASE STUDY: Going behind the scenes of a crisis to grasp the decision-making process

Understand the decision-making processes and behind-the-scenes steps that were taken in a recent crisis. The NHS will answer key questions like: what happened? How did you tackle it? To what extent was your ‘plan’ activated? How did you arrive at your responses? Did the reality surprise you? What was the aftermath? What were the learnings?


James Lyons, Director of Communications, NHS England and NHS Improvement


10:00 PANEL: When the world is on fire, how does that impact your comms?

From the pandemic to geopolitical incidents to the climate emergency to social movements and beyond, what does the future look like for comms in the midst of global crises?

  • Lessons learned from recent comms around the Russia/Ukraine conflict
  • How has half a decade of ‘permacrisis’ advanced the management of crisis comms?
  • When is it appropriate for companies and CEOs to speak out on social issues?
    • What are the risks of saying something against those of staying quiet?
    • Anticipating and dealing with any backlash
  • Avoiding a crisis of your own making through badly thought out, tone-deaf or meaningless messaging
  • Ensuring your operations align with your messaging

Louisa Fyans, Director of Communications, Football Association

Klare Kennett, Assistant Director Engagement - Marketing and Communications, RSPCA

Faith Dawes, Head of Media and PR, The Children’s Society


10:40 The most important 15 minutes of your career: a practitioner’s insight on how to handle issues and crises

In a crisis, you will have no more than 15 minutes to take ownership; the same amount of time it takes to deliver this presentation. In an ever-dynamic business environment, communications teams are increasingly experiencing reputation challenges that can lead to a crisis if not managed. So next time your phone rings at 2 am, will you know what to do? As practitioners, we can't believe in hoping it won't happen; we must be prepared and ready. So let's make issues management part of the everyday, minimising the risk of any situation escalating into a crisis. We'll share how to confidently take ownership and be ready to navigate any situation, one practitioner to another.


Mike Evans, Co-Managing Director and Co-Founder, Herdwick Communications


10:55 Networking break


11:30: Rewriting crisis planning for a hybrid world to facilitate the best possible response

In today’s hybrid working environment you can’t simply pull people into meetings when a crisis breaks, so what do you need to plan differently in this new world? Disruptive banking brand Startling Bank will talk about how they are setting up their crisis comms plan now to mitigate the challenges and risks. From the practicalities of getting the right message to the right people internally, to bringing the team together at speed to achieving a robust and consistent response across internal comms, external comms, and customer experience, no matter where your people are.


Alexandra Frean, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Starling Bank


11:55 CASE STUDY: What can you do when crisis plans are rendered almost useless due to the severity of the issue?

Many crisis comms plans assume the issue will be short-lived, within an accepted scope of understanding and experience, and recovery is straightforward…but what happens when it is none of those?

  • How did it change us as a team?
  • What lasting impact has it had on wellbeing, professional development and our relationships with the media?
  • What have we learned?

Helen Robinson-Gordon, Head of Media and News Relations, British Medical Association

12:20 CASE STUDY: Stopping an issue from becoming a crisis and managing stakeholders if it does

  • Understanding the role social media can play in the escalation of a crisis and planning ahead to manage your communications and mitigation strategy should crisis strike
  • How good leadership can prevent crisis or swiftly bring it under control, and how to quantify strong leadership so it is not a matter of chance
  • Spotting a crisis from a distance and stepping back to see the bigger picture to know when to act and when not to overreact
  • Putting in the leg work with your stakeholders: the importance of internal and external stakeholder management and how transparency and accountability builds forgivability

Natalie McEvoy, Counsel, Slateford

12:45 Networking lunch

13:45 CASE STUDY: When the going gets tough, how are you managing the mental health of your comms team?

From social media pile-ons to investigative broadcasts, in a 24/7 media world today’s comms teams have their work cut out managing crises. How do you support their mental health through crises so they can respond with resilience and creativity? How do you enable them to draw healthy boundaries? How do you create a culture of openness and support around mental health?

Kate Reynolds, Director of Communications, Sanctuary Group

14:10 CASE STUDY: Successfully managing internal comms to prepare your teams

Before a crisis makes it to the media there are internal steps that are key to helping staff feel engaged and ensuring they are advocates for your company when you need them most.

  • The importance of purpose and clarity on direction to ensure a match between your culture and your brand
  • The importance of sincerity and authenticity
  • Truly listening to employee responses to what you say

Naomi Jones will bring her experience of working in comms in an operations based industry and talk about how internal comms has been the critical component to all successful external communications, branding and successful crisis management. Her case study will show how SUEZ went from a company with a disengaged workforce and project led approach to sustainability to one with top engagement levels and a true people and planet purpose and approach embedded across the company.

Naomi Jones, Communications and Marketing Director, SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK

14:35 Getting social comms right in the depths of a crisis

COVID has changed the way people expect companies to communicate with them. In today’s hyper-fast news cycle you need to get the right info to the right people across many different channels in a crisis. Delve into:

  • How and when do you use earned vs. owned media?
    • Working effectively with journalists where appropriate in a social media dominated world
  • Using social media effectively as part of your armoury
    • Which types of content proliferate on different platforms; in what format, for what duration? What will be seen favourably by algorithms across different platforms?
    • Tips for directly engaging with unhappy consumers without sounding defensive or robotic
  • Assessing how influencers have changed comms and how to approach them if they are engaging with your brand crisis

Sneha Patel, VP Comms and Marketing, Blackstone

15:15 Networking break

15:45 PANEL: Producing content that counters the crisis

  • Leadership comms in a post-covid era
    • Gone are the days of flashy, staged, corporate messages. How do you ensure your leaders know how to be human and authentic in the face of a crisis?
  • Using owned content as a tool to shape the response
    • Top tips for talking directly to the consumer in a crisis through video, fact sheets, websites, socials and so on to tell your own story
  • Tuning your messages to the audience and channel
    • What do you say differently through socials vs. to influencers vs. traditional press, whilst keeping consistency?
  • How to handle misinformation or disinformation in a way that doesn’t make the situation worse

Rachelle Laurence, Head of Strategic Communications & Public Affairs, Comic Relief

Nick Jones, Head of Corporate PR, UK&I and Global Financial PR Lead, Group, Experian

16:25 CASE STUDY: Courageous connections; how to break out of conversation corridors with post-crisis campaigning

Lessons identified on the journey of the MOD campaigns team, from the release of the House of Commons Defence Committee report on treatment of women in the Armed Forces, through the negative headlines and reputational risk, to looking ahead at the ‘Women in Defence’ campaign approach.

  • Addressing the elephant
  • Mapping the spheres of influence
  • Going beyond window dressing
  • Forging connections that shake up the narrative

Lesley Woods, Chief Communications Officer External Campaigns, UK Ministry of Defence

16:50 Chair’s closing remarks


Speaking opportunities
Please contact Georgia on georgia.atwal@haymarket.com.

Sponsorship and exhibition opportunities
Please contact James on +44 (0)20 8267 8092 or james.butters@haymarket.com.

General enquires
Please call +44 (0)20 8267 4011 or email conferences@haymarket.com.