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CharityComms Conference: The changing world of charity PR

Available On-Demand

£75 + VAT pp for small charity members and individual members
£85 + VAT pp for medium member charities
£95 + VAT pp for large member charities
£130 + VAT pp for corporate partners
£155 + VAT pp for non-members of all types

Small member charities income: £2 million and below
Medium member charities income: £2-5 million
Large member charities income: £5 million and over

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This event took place on 24 February 2022 and all registered delegates were sent direct access details for the recordings. Please only book your place here if you missed the event the first time round. 

PR is a constantly evolving industry, and it’s important to keep on top of the changes. Charity PR professionals are facing many challenges as they continue to navigate a rapidly changing media landscape. They’re also dealing with increasingly complex reputational risks, getting cut through in the noisy news agendas, adapting to the changing working world, and protecting teams from burnout. 

In this special PR conference, we’ll help you keep up with the changes. You’ll hear from award-winning teams and leading charity PR lights about how they’re tackling some of the big sector issues. With case studies and actionable takeaways from every session, you’ll go away with plenty of new ideas and inspiration for your own PR work. 

On the agenda: 

  • The evolving complexity of the reputational risk environments 
  • Developing your PR strategy  
  • Avoiding the culture wars, considering polarisation and framing your messages 
  • Rebuilding trust when you have lost it 
  • Working with celebrities and influencers 
  • Getting cut through in a noisy national news agenda  
  • The big success story: getting into regional and local media 
  • Is the PR department still relevant? 
  • Protecting your team from burnout 
  • Reaching and writing for hard-to-reach audiences 
  • Tips for media fundraising campaigns 

Adeela Warley 
CEO, CharityComms


Vanessa Weddell 
head of events, CharityComms

Panel discussion: challenges in the evolving PR landscape

At a time when journalists and audiences can go straight to the source for information – itraditional journalism and PR dying? Are journalists still vital in helping charities get their message out there? Is the PR department still relevant and how should it be working with other functions to produce integrated and impactful campaignsHow are charities responding to the evolving and complex reputational risk environment? We’ll be looking at the current landscape and upcoming trends and challenges ahead.  

Andrew Webster 
head of media and PR, British Heart Foundation

Kim Thomas
freelance journalist, The Guardian

Tapinder Sidhu 
research officer, nfpResearch

Laura Walter 
senior media and PR manager, Macmillan Cancer Support

Break and reflection time

Time to pop your kettle on! Whilst you ponder this morning’s content, please think about your own PR function:  

  • How is it positioned and structured at your charity? 
  • Are you working in an integrated or siloed way with other departments such as social media and fundraising, and how could you improve?      
Overcoming the trust deficit

Trust in all types of institutions is falling. In this session, we will provide practical advice on how to maintain and build trust through your communications and engage audiences. We’ll show you ways to centre your communications around your audiences, prioritise engaging those that matter and minimise disruption from those that don’t, integrate comms across all channels, frame your message more effectively and respond proportionately and powerfully to challenge and criticism.

Peter Gilheany 
charity director, Forster Communications

Peer exchange: A chance to bask in the warm glow of PR success, and talk about the challenges faced along the way:
  • Share a PR success story from the past year. Local, regional or national – it all counts!
  • What did the coverage mean for your charity and what challenges did you face along the way?
Changing the language and perception of stammering

In October 2020 STAMMA, the British Stammering Association, launched its campaign ‘Find the Right Words’, aimed at kick-starting a conversation around the negative language used when talking about stammering, and help those who don’t stammer to understand that this is just how some people talk. The campaign won the Communications Campaign of the Year award at the Third Sector Excellence Awards 2021. In her talk, Jane will share with us how they ran a low budget, multi-channel award winning comms campaign and share her top tips and learnings from it.

Jane Powell 

Steven Halliday
web editor, STAMMA

Lunch break
Welcome back

Adeela Warley 
CEO, CharityComms

Fireside chat: Culture wars - navigating the polarised politics of our times

Charities, alongside other institutions, are increasingly being drawn into the ‘culture wars’. In a recent third sector trends report, NCVO predicts that the culture wars are likely to continue being a key political driver for charities in the year ahead. In this discussion, we’ll be exploring what the culture wars are, what implications they have for charities and some strategies for dealing with them. We’ll also be looking at how we can support each other as a sector.

Alex Farrow 
head of networks and influencing, NCVO

Angela Salt OBE 
chief executive, Girlguiding

Alba Kapoor 
senior policy officer, The Runnymede Trust

Shining a spotlight on the unspoken: Let’s Talk The Joy of Later Life Sex

In April 2021 Relate teamed up with renowned British photographer, Rankin, to shine a spotlight on the unseen – sex and intimacy in our later years, in the campaign: Let’s Talk The Joy of Later Life Sex. In her session, Sarah will share how they got the best out of working with an agency pro-bono to develop this award-winning and striking campaign. She will also talk about their experience of communicating about a taboo subject to tackle the stigma around this unspoken subject plus how they supported the stars of their campaign.

Sarah Milsom 
director of communications and engagement, Relate

Striking a balance: optimising PR opportunities while nurturing your celebrities

Rob Burrow is a legend of rugby league, particularly on his home turf in Yorkshire. When he took the brave decision to go public with his diagnosis of motor neurone disease in December 2019, he delivered an incredible opportunity for the MND community and particularly the MND Association. Discover how the charity faced the challenge of optimising awareness and fundraising, while balancing the private needs of Rob, and those close to him as they dealt with living with a terminal illness.

Suzanne Ostler 
head of marketing and communications, Kidney Research UK formerly communications manager, MND Association

Richard White 
head of VIP Liaison and special events, MND Association

Top tips for working with influencers

It’s not hard to see why working with influencers has become a key tactic. As consumers are increasingly turning to adblockers, social influencers can provide an authentic and credible way of reaching new and existing audiences, offering charities the opportunity to connect with already loyal audiences at no or low cost. In his talk, Paul will share the different types of influencer and offer his top tips for how best to choose, engage and develop relationships with the right influencers.

Paul Cullen 
advocacy specialist and director, Paul Cullen Partnerships

Close and launch of pre-recorded presentations to watch at your leisure

Adeela Warley 
CEO, CharityComms

Pre-recorded presentations launching:
Boost your media coverage with CharityComms’ free AskCharity service

In this short talk, you’ll hear how to get the most out of our free media matching service, AskCharity. Sarah and Imogen will offer a brief outline of how AskCharity works along with their top tips for getting the most out of it to boost your media coverage and make new journalist contacts.

Sarah Clarke 
head of membership, CharityComms

Imogen Lees
membership assistant , CharityComms

Protecting you and your team from burnout

We know it’s been a tough couple of years for most of us working in charities. PR teams have been especially under pressure and stretched, with many often working in crisis mode for long periods of time. In her talk, Ruth will offer insights for how we can manage stress and prevent burnout focusing on:

  • Managing workloads
  • Open communication and empathy
  • Providing balance
  • Recognising the signs of burnout and how to support someone who is struggling
  • How to look after yourself  

Ruth Richards 
coach and facilitator, Ruth Richards Coaching

Fireside chat: weathering the storm - dealing with negative media coverage

Most social and media managers dread that sinking feeling when a negative story hits – and why is it always at the weekend, out of hours or at the end of the day? The RNLI has had its fair share of negative coverage over the past few years and, in this fireside chat, Vanessa will be asking Rich about how they’ve been able to turn storms of negative coverage into groundswells of support. Rich will also offer his top tips for looking after your team during a crisis.

This talk was originally recorded for our digital conference in 2021.

Vanessa Weddell 
head of events, CharityComms

Rich Ward
senior social media manager, RNLI

How to develop a PR strategy

Take a step back from the day-to-day and consider: Is your PR activity designed specifically to help your charity meet its goals? Which audience groups do you really need to engage? Are you reaching them through the right channels? Are your key messages getting through? And is your plan deliverable, given available resource? In this session we’ll look at the steps involved in developing a strategy, with some useful tools and practical exercises, to help ensure your work has impact.

This talk was originally presented at our PR Network in October 2021. 


Louise Morriss 
director, Amazon PR

Headline sponsor:

Forster Communications Logo

Forster Communications is an award-winning agency, working with charities and businesses to accelerate social change. We help our clients to protect and improve lives, and deliver measurable value for them, their stakeholders and wider society. We have a long track record of working with the not-for-profit sector, strengthening the voice, reach and impact of charities to help them achieve their goals, creating stand out cause engagement programmes. A founding UK B Corporation, we believe in the power of partnership and work with our clients and network as a trusted – and sometimes challenging – force for positive change.

Digital Delegate Bag Sponsor: 

StrawberrySocial is a company where experience is the ‘boss’. Many of us have been in social for 16+ years. As such, we specialise in risk management for charities, brands and agencies. We provide a flexible 24/7 community management moderation service (Facebook Challenge Groups a speciality!). Our team is knowledgeable in the specific needs of charity communities; moderating, risk assessment and management, sign-posting help, crisis escalation, child safety and protecting the community. We can also create community growth and engagement strategy plans (including audits), workflows and guidelines – plus run due diligence reporting on influencers.

Tweets from the event