September 13th 2018 | Congress Centre, 28 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3LS


Alan Barnard, Founding Director, bbm campaigns (Chair)

Alan started in political campaigning as a volunteer knocking on doors and 10 years later was Director of Campaigns and Elections for Tony Blair’s Labour Party during the New Labour era that set the benchmark for election campaigns in the 21st century.

After working as Head of Campaigns and Research for The Football Association supporting the FA’s modernisation, Alan founded bbm campaigns to help businesses and not-for-profit organisations use campaign techniques from politics to create the conditions that enable success.

Alan is the co-author of Campaign It!, the book about the philosophy and attitude of campaigning which explains how campaign techniques and principles can be used to achieve any outcome and create a different future.

Campaign It! is required reading for the senior civil service communicators’ CPD programme and Alan is a regular speaker at 10 Downing Street’s series of internal seminars on campaign management.

Mona Walsh, Head of Communications, The National Gallery

Mona is a Communications professional who directs the National Gallery’s brand, campaign and digital communications activity. With a passion for creating effective, relevant communications Mona heads up a lively and diverse team of specialist in design, marketing, PR, social media, CRM, membership and audience research.

Since her arrival in 2013 she has developed and delivered a number of transitional projects including the development and launch of the Gallery’s first membership scheme in 2014 and first major audience strategy based on profiling key audiences in 2016/17. She recently led the development of the ‘Connected Brand’ programme and is about to roll out a major brand refresh, ambitious new content strategy and a range of digital products.

Prior to this Mona spent approximately 10 years at top tier media and digital agencies where she devised, evolved and delivered communications for brands such as Microsoft, American Express, Western Union, Tesco, Marks and Spencer and Marie Curie. Before coming to London, Mona was Head of Communications at youth advisory service Connexions Sussex and a Communications Consultant for local councils in southern England.

Ed Stearns, Head of Media, Metropolitan Police

Ed Stearns, MPRCA, MCIPR is Head of Media for the Metropolitan Police. He is responsible for reactive and proactive media and social media activity. This includes the UK’s only 24 hour media desk taking more than 200 enquiries a day. The Met’s social media is the largest network for emergency services in the world with more than 1.6 million Twitter followers and over 600 accounts. He is chairman of the London Resilience Communication Group which leads London’s response to major incidents. Before joining the Met he was Night News Editor at the Daily Mail.

Emma Hartley, Head of Campaigns & Corporate Communications, The Electoral Commission

Emma has more than 12 years of experience primarily in the public sector. She has worked across event, tourism and cause-related marketing. As Head of Campaigns and Corporate Communications at the Electoral Commission, Emma leads a team of eight people who plan, deliver and evaluate national multi-media campaigns to encourage people to register to vote ahead of elections and referendums. This includes campaigns for the 2015 general election which won Effie and Marketing Society awards for its effectiveness, as well as the EU referendum which contributed to a record high electorate, and most recently the 2017 general election.

Dee Cotgrove, Director of Communications, Met Office

Dee Cotgrove is Director of Communications at the Met Office, leading digtial reach and high profile public communications ranging from heatwaves and winter storms to climate science and pollution.  Dee is passionate about building trust through engagement, and her teams have won multiple awards for public communications and for use of digital and social media. 

Dee is a lead auditor for the Government Communications Service capabilty audits, and sits on the Cabinet Office Digital Futures Council. Dee chairs, judges, and speaks at PR and Marketing events in the UK, and at international meteorological events across Europe and USA.  Dee is also a Trustee Director on the board of Relate whose mission is to help and support relationships,  primarily through counselling.

With a first degree in Politics from the University of York, and a professional post graduate qualification in Marketing, Dee is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.  

Twitter: @metoffice

Jessica Pearce, Head of Campaigns and Strategy, Prime Minister’s Office

Jessica Pearce is head of the campaigns and strategy team in the Prime Minister's Office and Cabinet Office. She is responsible for the success of all priority campaigns across government, including issues such as the economy, social reform, strengthening the Union through to national security and global trade. She has worked at the heart of some of the country’s biggest communications challenges and directed some of the UK’s biggest public information campaigns of modern times, such as the EU referendum.

She also leads on communications’ effectiveness, from overseeing government’s marketing spend, leading insight and research to the delivery of the annual Government Communications Plan.

Stuart Thomson, Head of Public Affairs, Bircham Dyson Bell LLP

Stuart is the Head of Public Affairs at Bircham Dyson Bell LLP, leading their public affairs and communications consultancy, advising clients from both public and private sectors on their public affairs strategies, corporate communications and reputation management.

He has advised on a number of high profile media relations and crisis communications matters and his work also includes consultation and planning communications focused on local communities.

Stuart is an honorary research fellow at the University of Aberdeen and is the author of several books including Public Affairs in Practice and ‘Public Affairs: A Global Perspective. Stuart regularly writes and lectures on a range of business and political issues, as well as blogging for BDB. He is also an adviser to the Entrepreneurs Network.

He has appeared on Sky News, BBC 5 Live, BBC World, and the Today programme amongst others.  He has been a judge for both the Public Affairs News and PR Week Awards and was member of PR Week’s election panel for the June 2017 General Election.

Deborah Smith, Director, Promodo Ltd

Deborah is a well-regarded corporate affairs and communications consultant with extensive experience across different sectors. She established Promodo seventeen years ago and since then has delivered a wide range of strategic and day-to-day consultancy for local authorities and the private sector; working with government departments, think tanks and the media. As Corporate Affairs Director for Sunderland City Council she delivered a significantly improved profile and reputation for the council and the city with a step-change increase in positive media coverage and key national roles for the council leadership resulting in it becoming a high profile, well-regarded authority. She also led a total transformation in the inward investment and place marketing of the city, including the development of the MAKE it Sunderland campaign. Deborah is a non-executive director for the British Equestrian Federation; the national governing body of equestrian sport in Great Britain, with responsibility for communications.

Sarah Clark, Head of Insight and Evaluation, Department of Health

Sarah Clark is Head of Insight at the Department of Health. She has 17 years of PR experience across the private and public sector, working on high profle issues such as the housing market, MRSA, Europe, crime and NHS delivery. For the last 10 years she has specialised in strategic communications, creative problem solving and insight development and application. Sarah is a published author, writing on insight in the leading PR book, FuturePRoof Edition Two

Emma Leech, Director of Marketing and Advancement, Loughborough University

Emma Leech BA (Hons) MBA Found.Chart.PR, FCIPR, Dip CIPR, Dip PR (CAM) FCIM FoIC FIoD FRSA FInstILM  FCMI MPRCA MInstF

Emma is Director of  Marketing and Advancement at Loughborough University, overseeing communications, marketing, recruitment, web and digital, widening participation, international and fundraising and development.

Emma started her career in fashion and consumer PR in 1988, working in tourism and destination marketing before settling in higher education in 1997.

A Founding  Chartered PR Practitioner,  Chartered Marketer and Chartered Manager, she has won a string of awards over  two decades spanning PR, marketing, innovation, fundraising, digital, and web.

Emma holds an MBA and various PR, marketing and management qualifications.

Twitter: @EmmaJ70 | @lborouniversity

Simon Enright, Director of Communications, NHS England

Simon enjoys using the skills learned in nearly two decades at the BBC to help influence audiences and inspire change to improve health care in England.

He is passionate about the NHS and keen to ensure it is accurately represented in the media, to parliament, and with key partners. He is also determined that NHS staff get the recognition they deserve for their commitment to providing diligent care, on the basis of need and not ability to pay.

Simon leads a team providing all round communication support for NHS England - press, public affairs, publishing, parliamentary briefing, marketing, brand management, events including the annual Innovation Expo conference, bulletins, campaigns, strategic communications and Freedom of Information.

Twitter: @simonenright | @nhs

Miles Fletcher, Head of Media and Public Relations, Office for National Statistics

The Office for National Statistics is the United Kingdom's largest producer of official data. The media team and PR team is responsible for handling the public release of all of the UK's key economic data as well social statistics on key topics including migration, population, health and crime. Miles Fletcher has been at the ONS since 2013, having previously worked for the Department for Work and Pensions, the BBC and ITV.

Twitter: @ONS