Claire Simpson  

Career background
Travel turned tech PR. Communications Consultant at performance-driven marketing and communications agency Hard Numbers .  
How long have you been a volunteer? 
I’ve volunteered on the Greater London Group (GLG) committee for the last three years. Before that, I was a regular attendee at CIPR Midlands events before moving to the Big Smoke. 

What made you want to volunteer with us and how did you get involved? 
Having decided to up sticks to London after university, I didn’t really know any PR people outside of my immediate work colleagues.  Initially, I did a lot of networking online and got talking to the Chair of the Greater London Group through a PR Twitter chat.  

I was offered the chance to join the committee and haven’t looked back since. Working with the GLG has helped me connect with the wider industry, commit to continuous learning and build my professional network. 
What kind of work do you do on the committee? 
The GLG committee organises events for the good PR folk of Greater London, and our monthly networking drinks are a firm favourite with members. For the last two years, I’ve organised our flagship Annual Lecture event and support with management of the Group’s social media channels. I’m also Chief Meme Officer of the GLG group chat. 
What's been the best thing about volunteering so far? Any particular highlight or achievement you're most proud of?  
Organising our Annual Lecture has been incredibly rewarding. We launched it three years ago with guest speaker Laura Citron, CEO at London & Partners. It was my first time at a GLG event after joining the committee and I knew it was something special. 

Since then, it’s become the headline event in the GLG calendar, offering members exclusive access to senior figures in the world of PR and comms. Each year, members can ask questions under the Chatham House Rule and get a behind-the-scenes view from some of the industry’s foremost thought leaders. 

Last year, we took the event virtual for the first time  because of the pandemic. It had its challenges, but we were able to reach more members as a result.  
It also meant we could secure a keynote speaker from across the pond (and a bonafide comms rockstar) in Torod Neptune - Former Chief Communications Officer at Lenovo and now SVP and Chief Communications Officer at Medtronic.  

Did you volunteer through the pandemic and how was that?  
I did. If anything, it’s made me realise the true value of volunteering. When events (and frankly everything else) fell off a cliff in March, there was definitely a cry of ‘yikes! What do we do now?’... Ok so that was just me.  

But we all pulled together to rise to the challenge of ‘going virtual’ and delivered more member events in 2020 than ever before. It speaks to the sense of community within the Group, both on the committee and among our members.  
We also launched the Greater London Guild Group  last year as a digital platform for members to stay connected and share learnings during lockdown. It now has more than 200 members and it’s a great legacy to come out of hard times. 

Why is volunteering important? 
As with most things in life, you get out what you put in. Volunteering is important to me because it's a platform to give back to the wider PR community – from which I’ve benefited a huge amount in my career so far. 
Regional groups in particular deliver value at a local level, meeting members where they are and giving them a reason to engage. 

What would you say to another member thinking of volunteering? 
Get in touch with your local group or, better, go to one of their events.  See what you’d be able to get involved with, the benefits for your personal network and the reasons why other volunteers give up their time to support members.