Chairman's report for the AGM 15 June 2011

15 June 2011

Chairman’s report – 2011 AGM CIPR Corporate and Financial Group

2010/2011 has been another tremendous year for the group. Membership is up by over 40 per cent, almost at the 500 mark, and attendance at our lunchtime meetings is up by over 20 per cent.

That’s not surprising as we have what is one of the best programmes around. The lunchtime meeting series is the core of the group’s activities. Rob Skinner, Victoria Tate and Shona Prendergast have masterminded this year’s programme with highlights such as:

Tracy Corrigan, Editor WSJ Europe, who came to speak to us soon after her appointment; Andrew Gowers (BP's Head of Media Relations 2009/2010) who spoke publicly about the BP oil spill for the first time; Chris Blackhurst, Evening Standard, who told us about the success of the policy to make the paper free; Hugh Pym, BBC; and Ian King and Dominic O'Connell from Times Newspapers.

We continued to offer free places at our lunchtime meetings for members between jobs.

We have also continued producing meeting reports for the website, an idea we introduced last year. In the case of speakers from the media, these provide valuable guidance for PRs. 

The other two regular events in the calendar are the summer party and the annual dinner. Last year’s party, and the annual dinner, with Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP, as the main speaker, both attracted a very good turnout in terms of overall numbers and senior representatives from our industry.

Anne Gilding arranged two visits this year: to the Daily Telegraph, where the group was incredibly fortunate to join the editorial meeting; and to the Olympic Park, including its press and broadcast centres, where we saw the amazing transformation taking place in east London.

Thanks to Sarah Hollins and Anne Gilding, a new edition of Through the Thicket, our guide to financial PR, was launched at a seminar last November. The FSA’s presence on the seminar panel was much appreciated as it is unusual for them to be available to answer questions face to face. To mark the event, we also produced a video for the website, another first for the group. 

We have refreshed the website design and content and started a best practice guide series on the site which we will be adding to over time. We are also trialling e-booking and e-payment, under Simon Thompson’s guidance.

Annette Spencer, who has taken on responsibility for membership, has written a leaflet to promote the group to members, potential members and speakers.

And Jo Spears has recently joined the committee to help develop activities for “tomorrow’s talent”, which we are looking forward to unveiling over the coming months.

Cliff Crown, our treasurer for a decade, stood down last autumn. We were very sad to lose him but Simon Thompson has embraced the role impressively, for which we are very grateful. Our finances are in very good shape.

The committee has no shortage of ideas but I am acutely conscious of the need to “walk the talk” rather than to be all talk and no action. All members of the committee have more than fulltime jobs and those jobs keep them much busier these days than in the past. To help make the best use of their time, we have brought in “committee associates” to work with us on several projects. People find that it is useful to mention this work on their CVs.

I am most grateful to the committee and committee associates for all their hard work. And, as ever, we are extremely grateful to our administrator Sue Owen, without whom we would not be making this report. We look forward to building on the momentum of the past year over the coming months.

Caroline Cecil, 15 June 2011


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