Winners 2018

Best in-house team – corporate communications

Iceland Foods

Iceland Foods employs 24,000 people, operates 960 stores and generates around £3 billion per annum. And this year it has certainly dominated the headlines. But the team responsible for setting Iceland’s communications strategy comprises just two people: Keith Hann, director of corporate affairs, and Hilary Berg, head of sustainability and CSR. Together, they have 65 years of PR experience – much of it working for Iceland.

Hann, who boasts no professional qualifications and a grumpy personality, and chartered practitioner Berg, who is described as ‘relentlessly cheerful’, are united in their ‘shared passion for Iceland’s commitment to doing the right thing and to always acting with integrity’.

While ‘socialist feminist’ Berg wants to save the planet and ‘libertarian right-wing’ Hann’s ambition is to die in his own bed, they admit they are 100 per cent committed to Iceland, subject only to not winning more than £1 million on the National Lottery.

It was this sense of fun in their entry that engaged the judges, along with an ‘impressive’ endorsement from managing director Richard Walker.

He described an ‘unlikely partnership, but an incredibly effective one’ and a team that worked hand-in-hand with the Board. ‘Their specialist skills are what make them a powerful team – Keith working with editors, in the City and Westminster; Hil wading through remote Borneo jungle with me to see the impact of deforestation, working with NGOs and community partners, and managing diverse stakeholders,’ he added.

‘Their mutual respect, shared sense of humour and drive for excellence has generated extraordinary results.’

This year, the team, working with the Board, consumer PR team and Weber Shandwick, has led a series of campaigns, including #TooCoolForPlastic and #PalmOilAlarmCall, that have supported Iceland’s core purpose – ‘to grow a profitable business that allows us to do the right thing for our people, our customers and our communities – and our planet’.

The team’s long-term strategy is based on eight rules of engagement:

  1. PR is a strategic planning tool for the business
  2. Everything is based on substance, not hype, with evidence and advocacy
  3. Listen to customers and capture public feeling
  4. Don’t be afraid to be radical and controversial
  5. Plan, plan, plan to capitalise on every opportunity
  6. Be open and honest, and always available
  7. Evaluate, interrogate and keep improving
  8. Work hard but don’t take ourselves too seriously

The entry ‘marked a refreshing change allowing the judges to see the people behind the results,’ said the judges. ‘It was amusing and lovely. We liked the way that such a small team has created such a big impact. They are well-deserved winners.’