Friday, 1 June 2012

Abchurch hosts IPREX 2012 Annual Meeting

After months of careful planning, Abchurch hosted IPREX’s Annual Meeting 2012 in London. Along with our co-hosts Brevia Consulting, we were delighted to welcome 44 of our international partners, from 19 countries, to London. Based in the Grange Hotel St Paul’s, we treated our lovely guests to a fun packed schedule. To start the event our international partners were invited to a reception at our awesome (as some of the guests descirbed it) offices so they could enjoy the spectacular panoramic view of London and initiate contact with their fellow guests. Brevia invited keynote speaker Steven Norris to draw on a long career as a successful politician and businessman, which certainly got the conversation flowing.

After a stroll over the iconic Millennium Bridge, we celebrated Shakespeare’s 400th birthday with dinner at the Globe Theatre, where each of his plays are currently being staged in a different language (that night they were performing The Two Gentlemen of Verona in Shona, a Bantu language, native to the Shona people in Zimbabwe).

The next morning, we took our partners by private boat from Limehouse Marina up the River Lea to the stunning Forman’s Fish Island conference venue, idyllically set directly across the river from the Olympic Stadium. On the way into the conference room we peered into Forman’s famous salmon smokery to see it in action.

Editor of Business Green, James Murray, kicked off the conference with a seriously insightful talk highlighting the need for investment in clean technologies and the opportunities and challenges in the sector. He also highlighted some unsung benefits of the clean technology sector (including huge job creation) and drew our attention to very innovative technology from Seawater Greenhouses.

A thought-provoking presentation by John McLean (who had treated guests to China Food Company’s tasty soy sauce in their goody bags) on Doing Business in China came next. His insight into cultural nuances and etiquette sparked lively discussion about growing business opportunities in the East.
Just before lunch we arranged for IPREX’s traditional Kodak moment to take place on the roof of Forman’s, with a full frontal view of the Olympic Stadium. Definitely one for the mantelpiece!

Lunch was a delicious buffet of the locally sourced sustainable salmon that we had seen smoking earlier; quite a treat.

The rest of the day was very entertaining, with an interactive session on Creativity and Innovation as Communication Power Tools and an opportunity to get to know our new Warsaw, Prague and Boston partners better. Kathy Tunheim also presented the new phase of the IPREX Strategy.

After the sunny boat journey back to the hotel, guests had a moments respite to freshen up before returning to the Southbank. This time our destination was the Tate Modern where we toured some of the stunning art on display and the adventurous among us took in the Hirst exhibit. We then enjoyed a superb dinner overlooking the Thames in the Tate Modern Cafe before heading out on the town …

The next morning, Brevia led the charge to Westminster to continue the conference, where IPREX’s regional report introduced plans to extend our network into Russia and Africa. Following the public affairs theme, Simon Thwaites of ComRes gave an interesting presentation on the power of polling as a business development tool in order to meet client challenges and requests.

Brevia then chaired a discussion alongside Cameron Blair, director of Social Media at Wilkinson PR, our Australian IPREX partner, about using social media to help businesses within the IPREX network as well as clients. This provoked considerable amount of discussion with the room full of members wanting to share their digital expertise.Tactics on how to improve a company’s SEO were discussed at great length as it was apparent all partners have the view that the digital world cannot be neglected. The idea of social media monitoring was also discussed extensively, going into the increasingly relevant debate over whether coverage on a journalist’s Twitter feed can now equate to a hit in the media. What was clear was that everyone shared the belief that digital media opportunities are something all IPREX partners need to embrace with open arms.

The final discussion was lead by our Netherlands IPREX partner Cas Jenster from ACA Communicate, talking about making the most of the IPREX partnership for new business opportunities. Our guests shared stories of working together and utilising the partnership to its fullest. An award was then given out to the partner who had provided the most new business over year to the network … and the winner was … Renzi Stone, of Saxum, with an amazing five successful new business opportunities for others.

After lunch, the conference finale was a tour of the Houses of Parliament. Our guests wandered through the current Upper and Lower houses as well as viewing Westminster Hall, built between 1097 and 1099 by William the Conquer’s son, King William Rufus the Redhead. This historic location has witnessed many a famous trial, such as the trail of Thomas More, and Charles I (our only Monarch to have been executed) on the steps of Whitehall, and of course the famous Gunpowder Plot.

The tour of one of the truly fantastic historic and current sites in world politics capped what was a highly successful and useful few days, where we treated our guests to some of the best of sport, politics, arts and literature that our City has to offer. And judging by all the lovely thank you messages we have received, our partners left the UK satisfied with their valuable meetings and time to network with their fellow members.

The London conference had such a great turnout and Abchurch would like to thank all partners who attended, and extend our special thanks to our new partners from Warsaw, Prague and Boston, who we all loved getting to know better.

Bring on the next IPREX meeting …….!

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