Growing PR in the Midlands: grow your skills

The morning breakout session of Growing PR in the Midlands is focused on growing your skills.

Grow your crisis communication skills with Donald Steel

Organisations can struggle if they fail to spot a crisis, are slow to respond, and are not focused on the victims. In this highly interactive session, Donald explores what to get right when communicating in a crisis. 

In groups you will review a range of scenarios and decide: issue or crisis? Then using a brief but challenging scenario, you will be asked to write initial statements. And in the Tik Tok era, are words enough? Crisis communications is also about pictures.  

You will leave the session with a deeper knowledge of how to support their clients classify a crisis and strengthen their crisis response.  
Donald Steel is an international specialist in crisis communications and was the BBC’s chief media spokesman for 11 years. He now works with clients across Europe, the Balkans, Middle East, North America and Asia Pacific/Australasia, including airlines, hospitals, universities, FMCGs, UN agencies, orchestras, media companies, arts venues, and high-profile individuals. 

An in-demand speaker, his recent and forthcoming appearances include New York, Singapore, Winnipeg, Brussels, Zurich and Oman. He is also Vice President - Crisis Communications, at Kenyon International Emergency Services, the world leader in supporting organisations responding to incidents involving largescale loss of life.  A Scot, he has lived in Birmingham for more than 30 years. 

The opportunity for artificial intelligence in PR with Stephen Waddington

Artificial intelligence will be as disruptive to the public relations profession as the internet and social media. It has the potential to help us work smarter and more efficiently. In this session, we'll explore practical applications in text and image generation, editing and summarisation, evaluation and modelling, and planning and decision-making.  
There are polarised views on the impact of AI. The optimistic perspective views it as a smart assistant. The case against AI ranges from issues related to copyright and privacy to the ease with which tools make stuff up. 

Artificial intelligence will never replace human emotion and the ability to use stories to build relationships. We’ll learn why. 
Stephen Waddington is a non-exec of Birmingham agency Story Comms. He’s an entrepreneur who has benefited from disruption in media and technology during his career in public relations. He built an agency during the 90s supporting companies building the infrastructure and applications that were the foundation of the internet. He did it again ten years later building one of the first agencies to work across paid, social, and earned media.  

Stephen has worked for clients including Amazon, ARM, BMW, The Economist, Salesforce, Microsoft, and Virgin Media Business. Along the way, he has written ten books and served as President of the CIPR. 

He’s the founder of Wadds Inc., a professional advisory firm for agencies and communication teams, and a PhD researcher at Leeds Business School, where he studies the relationship between public relations and management. 

Growing your team with Dulcie Swanston

When we have genuine trust in our working relationships, we can challenge people to achieve exceptional results - without people receiving direct feedback or strong opinions as a threat.  Our brains simply can’t do their best thinking when in threat mode. Our creativity, decision making and the ability to say the right thing are all affected. With the help of the Top Right model, Dulcie outlines a few simple techniques to grow the brains within teams and optimise performance.
Dulcie Swanston is a coach, learning consultant and mentor who supports businesses across a diverse range of sectors through her coaching consultancy, Profitably Engaged, and Tea Break Training Ltd. Spending more than 20 years in FTSE 100/250 companies, Dulcie has held a variety of senior roles in operations, commercial, brand development and HR, leading large, diverse teams. She was latterly Head of Corporate HR with responsibility for significant organisational change programmes including a significant de-merger. 

Dulcie’s coaching training provides formal qualifications accredited to the Association for Coaching. In addition, she has authored several books including ‘It’s Not Bloody Rocket Science’, has featured on BBC Radio and produced numerous training videos. She is possibly the only Fellow of the CIPD to have an MBA, a post-graduate certificate in employment law and be a qualified nightclub bouncer. 

She believes that it is this combination and the breadth of commercial roles inside and outside HR in dynamic environments and her deep knowledge of neuroscience, biology and psychology that allows her to bring something different and compelling to clients. Dulcie has also applied her broader business knowledge as a non-exec and mentor, including work via the government sponsored Growth Accelerator programme. 

Growing PR in the Midlands takes places on Thursday 6 July from 9.30am-5.30pm at Birmingham City University.

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