Chairman's report - 2010 AGM CIPR Corporate and Financial Group

30 June 2010

2009/2010 has been a tremendous year for the group which is in its fourth decade.

The core group activity is the lunchtime meeting series. Under Roman Townsend and then Rob Skinner, the programme has been very successful with a consistently high class of speaker. It is too good a list to be able to pick out a few highlights so here it is in full:

Rt Hon John McFall MP, Treasury Select Committee; Geoff Cutmore, CNBC (Europe); Richard Alderman, Serious Fraud Office; Gillian Tett, Financial Times; Allister Heath, City AM; Kamal Ahmed, Sunday Telegraph; Tim Weber, BBC News (interactive and radio); Paul Lewis, Radio Four's Money Box; Edward McBride, The Economist; Steve Hawkes, The Sun.

Not surprisingly attendance at our lunchtime meetings has increased and the figures are impressive: a rise of 90 per cent over the last four years.

A new innovation this year has been to produce meeting reports which we circulate to members and put on the website. These are popular and, in the case of the speakers from the media, provide valuable guidance on the requirements of the different outlets.

The other two highlights of the calendar are the summer party and the annual dinner. Last year's party and the annual dinner with Hector Sants, chief executive of the Financial Services Authority, attracted a very good turnout both in terms of numbers and senior representatives from our industry.

We have arranged two visits this year. Kate Dobbin fixed for us to go to the Guardian and we were very lucky to join the editorial meeting. Even more exciting was our visit to No 10 Downing Street, thanks to our former chairman, Simon Lewis, then Prime Minister's spokesman, who organised a tour of the premises and gave a fascinating talk about perhaps the most pressurised PR job in this country. Judging by the number of photos taken of members posing outside the front door, this will certainly be the most remembered group event.

Other new initiatives during the year included free lunchtime meeting attendance for members who are between jobs and the setting up of a LinkedIn group.

The success of these activities and the programme in recent years has led to membership numbers increasing by 110 per cent since 2004.

The committee has plans and there is no shortage of ideas but I am acutely conscious of the need to under promise and over deliver. All the committee have more than fulltime jobs and those with jobs are much busier these days than in the past. To help make the best use of their time, we have brought in some members to work with us on several projects. People find this work a very useful addition to their CVs.

A new edition of Through the Thicket, our guide to financial PR, is in the pipeline. We are looking at improving the website and a series of best practice guides will be launched on the site very soon. We also hope to be able to launch our long awaited online social media seminar before too long.

Our finances are in very good shape and, as ever, we are grateful to Cliff Crown for his work as treasurer.

It is with great sadness that we record the death this month of group chairman from 1998 to 2000, Neil Mainland, at the age of 54. We hope to launch a memorial of some kind to Neil and are discussing this with his widow Maggie.

It remains for me to thank the committee for all their hard work and also the people we have brought in to provide additional help. As ever we are grateful to our administrator Sue Owen who is the glue that keeps us together. We look forward to building on the momentum of this year over the coming months.


Caroline Cecil
30 June 2010


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