On behalf of our chair, patrons and directors, I would like to congratulate the Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP on being elected Leader of the Conservative Party and on becoming our next Prime Minister (effective Wednesday, July 24, after PMQs). We wish the incoming No10 communications team well. In addition, we thank the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP for his commitment and applaud his excellent campaign.
It is our intention to invite someone from the new administration to speak at our reception on Wednesday, October 23, which will take place at the Ellwood Atfield Gallery and is sponsored by Built Environment Communications Group (BECG) – one of the top three fastest growing PR consultancies in the UK (PR Week). You can RSVP here.
Honeysett-Watts is Director of Conservatives in Communications and works in the
financial technology sector
On Wednesday, a group of storytellers – who just so happen to be Conservative supporters – met at the Ellwood Atfield Gallery in Smith Square to hear from Katie Perrior about her time in Number 10, and to explore the purpose of, and indeed future for, the Party.
Perrior served as Theresa May’s PR chief right up until when the
2017 election was called (when May was 24 points up in the national polls). And
a fascinating story and exchange of ideas it was for the 100 or so guests –
in-house and agency PR and public affairs specialists plus current and former
special advisors and CCHQ staffers – who turned up for the relaunch of Conservatives in Communications, which Perrior
I won’t spill the beans on what was said, but I do want to share
some brief thoughts, based on my experiences, as a way of demonstrating the
value that those of us in this network can bring to future leadership campaigns
and potentially in government.
I was born in Beverley and grew up in Hull, listening to the
band Beautiful South. At just six years of age, my mum died of breast cancer,
and shortly after my sixteenth birthday while finishing my GCSEs I became an
orphan when my dad passed away suddenly. I knew I had a stark choice: to
sink or swim. I chose to study – to pursue a career, and to work weekends – so
that I could afford to live.
After a much-needed move away from home and positive three years
at the University of East Anglia, I jumped on a train to the Beautiful South
and began searching for full-time employment – just as signs of a global
financial crisis were beginning to emerge. I settled for a life in PR,
enhancing the perception of the finance sector and promoting the technology
needed to progress it.
Why am I telling you this? The backdrop was an unpopular Tory
government under John Major, followed by years in the political wilderness for
the Conservatives. And all because of a failure by a succession of people to
tell the Tory story of aspiration and opportunity that I knew existed.
In short, the Party didn’t have a convincing narrative and
failed to connect with the British electorate which resulted in three
consecutive victories for Tony Blair.
Despite the nationalisation of Northern Rock and RBS, and
everything else that was happening, David Cameron was unable to secure a
majority and ended up forming a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Whatever
your thoughts about those years in power (and mine are positive), there’s no
doubt in my mind that George Osborne’s management of the economy, together with
strategic and disciplined messaging, helped the Tories to victory in 2015: it
was all about, and I apologise in advance, that Long Term Economic Plan.
Confidence in the economy picked up, businesses performed well,
and as a result hired new staff, from which I and others subsequently
benefited. Fast forward four years and, wow, has the situation reversed.
Whichever side you were on before the referendum (or are on now), there’s no
doubt in my mind that Brexit is consuming everyone’s time and preventing us
from getting on with more important things – and articulating that work.
As the leadership contenders begin to set out their stalls, let’s
judge their ability to tell the Tory story – and during that process, where
it’s required, I’m sure you’ll see the influence of Conservatives in
Conservatives in Communications (CiC), the industry network that brings together senior Tory PR specialists, has relaunched under the chairmanship of Katie Perrior.
Industry stalwarts Lord Black, Kevin Bell and Lionel Zetter –
all of whom have been involved in CiC since it was established in 2011 to
support the Party – have agreed to be patrons.
PR director Adam Honeysett-Watts and Westminster recruiter Carol Freeman are supporting the effort, including an event yesterday at the Ellwood Atfield Gallery in Smith Square.
Lord Black, deputy chairman of Telegraph Media Group, moderated an audience Q&A with Perrior – who worked as Director of Communications to Prime Minister Theresa May before returning to iNHouse Communications.
Among the 100 guests were industry and association campaign
leads, agency partners and colleagues, as well as current and former special
advisors and staffers.
“The Conservative Party would be wise to tap into this talent
pool, and leverage the network as it seeks to shape and tell its story to the