“A formidable intellect and an attention-grabbing delivery style … makes people sit up and really think”
Sarah Warby
Marketing Director

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Robert delivers keynote speeches at major conferences and for clients. He also runs workshops and masterclasses for CEOs, Executive Boards and Communications Teams.

Robert’s 2016 lecture series includes provocations on the post Truth, post Trust, post PR age. In 2017, he will be focusing on The Year of Tomorrow – how organisations can address a world beyond Brexit and Trump.

Robert has addressed conferences in London, Washington DC, Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Moscow, Milan, Madrid, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Abu Dhabi and Dhahran.

He spoke at the Hay Festival in 2015 and gave a TEDx talk a year later.

Please mail Robert directly, if you would like him to speak at one of your events.


The world has changed. Public Relations is dead and Public Leadership and Public Value are the future.

Some call this the new normal. Power and influence are asymmetrical and activist – a result of the megatrend of individual empowerment, disruptive technology and the rise of networks. It is witnessed through the continued power shift from state to citizen, employer to employee, corporation to citizen-consumer and the demise of many traditional, disrupted sectors – from media to publishing, politics to diplomacy, internal communications to leadership itself.

Trust, often cited as the holy grail of corporations and brands, has been abused and exhausted. It is more fragile than ever before and must be hard-fought, hard-earned and hard-won everyday. Trust is an outcome, not a message. Radical honesty, radical transparency and reciprocal vulnerability should lie at the heart of business today. The age of command-and-control hierarchies is over.

The company of the future is a de facto social movement – its communications function effectively a network of highly connected community organisers, each with dedicated areas of expertise. There is no need for conventional Corporate Social Responsibility – “purpose” becomes part of an open, shared manifesto. New strategies are therefore required that speak to the world of tomorrow, not the world of yesterday. New models of engagement and leadership are needed. Accountability to citizens and society should replace sterile measurement metrics, so beloved by generations of consultants.

Robert Phillips has developed a workshop for Chief Executives and Chief Communications Officers, designed for quick but deep immersion in progressive thinking around trust, communications and business leadership. He addresses issues of purpose in business, along with the role of networks, wise crowds, media and how to build coalitions of the informed. The principles of Public Leadership and Public Value are clearly articulated and animated using real-life experiences and anecdotes, derived from Phillips’ 30 years at the front-line of communications, as well as numerous detailed, researched case studies from international companies and movements.

Each workshop typically incorporates bespoke pre-research and (ideally) key stakeholder interviews. It runs for approximately 3 hours, but can also be extended into a fully participatory format over a full day. The latter version includes additional guest speakers, agent provocateurs and shared best practice.

The Seven Strategies of We outline the key strategies needed to navigate the new normal and sit at the heart of the session:

  1. Accept chaos as reality
  2. Radicalise honesty and transparency
  3. Build coalitions
  4. Take to the social dance floor
  5. Be the media
  6. Love the citizen crowd
  7. Communicate through actions, not words

Benefits of a workshop with Robert:

  • In-depth understanding of how the world has arrived at the new normal and the challenges today’s organisations now face
  • Guidance on how to survive and thrive in the new normal, using new models of Public Leadership and Public Value, to build better trust through reciprocal vulnerability and fit-for-purpose communications programmes in an activist future
  • New insights into how to think and ask bigger questions about your organisation
  • The skills required to co-produce answers and solutions with crowds of employees and stakeholders
  • Strategies to develop Public Value accountability, uniquely tailored for your organisation
  • The tools required to place Public Leadership at the core of your business by promoting participation and freedom over command and control
  • The knowledge needed to build trust through what you do, not what you say

To book a workshop on Communications and Trust, please mail Robert directly.

Crowd Forum (October 2017) – Who Can You Trust?

To avert digital dystopia – human disruption is needed

Trust: The Power of Vulnerability & Dissent, April 2017

Trust and Transparency – The European Association of Communications Directors Forum, Brussels, June 2015

2015 Anthony Howitt lecture highlights

Speaking Credits

Robert has lectured and run workshops around the world.
Speaking credits include:

Corporate Clients

  • Barclays
  • GSK
  • Irish Life
  • Jeronimo Martins
  • KPMG
  • RBS
  • Sanofi
  • Saudi Aramco
  • Schroders
  • Welsh Water

Professional Bodies

  • ACCA
  • The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
  • The Law Society
  • Project Management Institute
  • RICS

Institutions, Professional Bodies, Media & Academia

  • British Chamber of Commerce
  • Business in the Community
  • Cass Business School, City University, London
  • Confederation of British Industry
  • European Association of Communication Directors
  • Financial Times
  • Global Economic Symposium
  • Local Government Comms. Academy
  • London School of Economics
  • OECD, Paris
  • Oxford Said Business School
  • Oxford University
  • Porto Business School
  • Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
  • The European Roundtable
  • The Institute of Ideas
  • UK Ministry of Defence
  • UK Treasury
  • University of Cambridge, Judge Business School

“An excellent speaker and facilitator … challenging and engaging”
Gail Greengross
Strategic Communications Director
Business in the Community

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