PR in the Boardroom

19 November 2010 By Northern Lights

PR in the Boardroom image
Icon Photo Media

Peter Finnegan & Filiz Ozakinci, courtesy of Icon Photo Media

Peter Finnegan and Filiz Ozakinci are the Chartered Institute of PR’s student reps at Leeds Metropolitan University.  They attended a guest lecture on ‘PR in the Boardroom’ given by Northern Lights PR’s chief executive Victoria Tomlinson as part of an autumn lecture series celebrating 20 years of the PR degree at the university

Northern Lights chief executive Victoria Tomlinson delivered a powerful lecture on PR in the boardroom.

After a brief but informative introduction into what a boardroom is, Victoria then went on to demonstrate where she believes PR fits in.

It can be argued that it sits

  • On the board
  • With the Director of Marketing/Communications
  • With communication and marketing as a whole

However Victoria then went on to explain how to ensure PR is successful it must sit with all three – and with the business as a whole.

Victoria then gave some insightful information on a recent campaign that Northern Lights undertook for The Directorbank Group. This focused upon What makes an Outstanding Finance Director? based on primary research.

The campaign itself is something Victoria refers to as a challenge, however is proud of its relative success in such a short period of time. From this campaign she was able to explain what matters in a good director.

  • Communication skills
  • People skills
  • Understanding the business and wealth creation
  • Being able to challenge in private, but support in public
  • Be forward looking
  • Be brave

Victoria then went on to use her life experiences within PR to explain what she thought helped her build ‘boardroom’ skills.

  • Being involved in a charity
  • Curiosity – ask questions
  • Be seen, be seen in senior places
  • Take on projects outside your day to day work
  • Say yes and take chances
  • Have discretion both professionally and personally.

Therefore remain involved with people but as Victoria said ‘In PR understand what drives the money’.

Victoria writes for the Northern Lights’ blog – and welcomes guest blogs or any comments on their blogs.

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Written by Northern Lights


  • Good summary (I very much regret that I was trapped in a planning meeting and missed Victoria’s guest lecture).

    When PR does take its place in the ‘boardroom’, it’s rarely called public relations. In my experience, it’s called corporate affairs, or corporate communication(s) or something else.

    I note the Stockholm Accords added ‘and communication management’ to each mention of public relations. Heavy-handed, perhaps, but the question is: do we have the right name for this important activity?

  • I really enjoyed the lecture. I attended the guest lecture as a postgraduate student and what really stuck out for me was Victoria’s belief in the need for diversity for any company’s board committee.

    As simple as it sounds, a mixture of both men and women, people of varying professional and cultural backgrounds can make such a great difference in how a company decides to respond to a crisis or issue. With a board full of white middle aged men, would BP have handled their own crisis better? Victoria believed they would have and I agree. Bearing in mind this is a generalisation of senior female professionals, from a PR perspective, perceptive female input could have eased the anger a little more from the American community.

    A passionate and dedicated woman, I will definitely look forward to hearing Victoria speak again to us at Leeds Met. Thanks so much for coming.

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