Evolving for the Future and the Role of HR: Philip Atkinson Shares His Insights

Promotional image of Philip Atkinson from Roche, speaker at Audience Inc's Human Resources Forum TOGETHR in Basel Dec 3 2018

Philip Atkinson, Global Head of Scientific Communications at Roche, joins our HR Forum ‘TOGETHR as a guest speaker to share his insights into the need for organisations, teams, and individuals to evolve to meet the needs of the future.

The business world has never experienced such a fast pace of change – and all companies, including HR teams, need to adapt and evolve.  Organisations, teams, and individuals need to use new skills and capabilities to be ‘fit for the future’.

With 20+ years of business experience – whose roles range from marketing manager to business leader to global head scientific communications, among others – Philip will offer a unique glimpse into topics such as executive leadership, influencing key stakeholders, and transforming organisations. Philip is a member of the oncology leadership team at Roche, an experienced mentor for the Healthcare and Businesswomen’s Association, and an ICF accredited coach.

Join us and meet Philip at our ‘TOGETHR’ event in Basel on December 3!

Register now!

Ready to register? Fill out this quick form.

We Are All HR

Visual to accompany blog post "We are all HR" to promote Audience's First HR Forum "TOGETHR" in Basel on December 3 2018.

For those of us whose job title says “Human Resources,” clearly we work in HR. But for the rest of us? Can one work in HR without the “HR” title? The answer is yes. In fact, nearly all of us work in HR.

The illusion that Human Resources is a box-like entity living in a silo is quickly fading. Technological advances, for one, are not only changing the way we live and the way we work, but also the human  resources organizations need to meet ever-changing demands.

The pharmaceutical industry is a great example. Healthcare professionals are moving away from one-size-fits-all treatments, demanding instead personalized solutions that target individual patient needs. These solutions require an innovative approach in technology to manage the scores of data personalized healthcare entails.

However, the innovative tech expert who could manage these projects doesn’t come to Basel for a career in tech.

For a location like Basel to catch the attention of a tech guru whose eyes are on the Google headquarters in Silicon Valley, who can influence that shift? Almost everyone!

From civil servants, to members of the pharmaceutical world, to the healthcare community, to researchers, and to all the agencies and freelancers hired along the way – everyone plays a role.

Paving the path for these new ways of working goes beyond the traditional Human Resources model and yet couldn’t be more HR-related. If your role includes hiring, training, retaining, and engaging with employees, you work in HR.

But it doesn’t end there – you also work in HR if:

  •        Your professional success depends on a collaboration between you and your peers
  •        You spend any of your work hours hoping to influence the decision-making of your peers
  •        Being mindful of your colleagues’ time, ambitions, and skill-sets helps you reach your professional goals

People who engage with the employee base work in HR. And who doesn’t do that?

Now that you know you are an HR professional, don’t miss Audience’s first Human Resources Forum TOGETHR on December 3, 2018 – read more and save a seat here.


The Evil HR Lady is Coming For Us in Basel!

And you won’t want to miss her…

Suzanne Lucas, the Evil HR Lady, speaker for HR Forum TOGETHR in Basel on December 3 2018

Suzanne Lucas – writer, speaker, and celebrated Evil HR Lady – will give us a dose of tough HR love served with a side of snark at the TOGETHR forum on December 3, 2018!

Known as The Evil HR Lady after her wildly popular blog, she is a bit of a legend in the Human Resources community. After spending a decade in corporate HR where she hired, fired, and managed the numbers, she moved on to become a full-time writer and speaker focused on helping people develop great careers, be better managers, and sort through all of the questions and nuances that come with managing people.

Topics like rage-quitting, sweet recruiting, and unconscious bias fill her blog as well as Inc.com where she is a guest writer. You can also find her in interviews with the likes of HRD Leaders

Don’t miss Suzanne’s no-nonsense HR insights at our upcoming TOGETHR forum  in Basel.

Register now!

Ready to register? Fill out this simple form and save your seat now!

TOGETHR: Audience’s First Human Resources Forum

Logo of Audience's Human Resources Forum TOGETHR in Basel on December 3 2018
Work in Human Resources in Basel? Keep reading!

When our clients speak, we listen. Based on the expressed interest of HR professionals, we will be hosting ‘TOGETHR in partnership with the Congress Center Basel on December 3, 2018 from 9:00am – 4:30pm.

As a member of the Human Resources community, being a part of TOGETHR means making valuable connections, adding relevant skills to your skill set, and exchanging ideas with motivated, engaged, and interested professionals in Basel, like the “Evil HR Lady”  Suzanne Lucas, Global Head of Scientific Communication at Roche Philip Atkinson, and more. If you work in HR, you won’t want to miss it!

TOGETHR will provide a platform for you to share ideas and skills for engaging broad and diverse audiences, whether they are your peers, senior management, affiliates, or internal/external stakeholders. We will share insights and experience from working with large global matrix organisations, including the thinking and methodologies behind our most successful approaches to audience engagement. Additionally, we will bring experts in the field together to share their insights, ideas, and solutions. Finally, we will provide a platform for all participants to co-create new ideas unique to the needs of the HR community in Basel.

‘TOGETHR’ will inspire and educate you as a professional on three elements that underpin your future success and relevance:

  • Vision: The World in 2025. None of us can predict the future, but you can be a part of helping to shape what it looks like within your organisations.
  • Creativity: Discover New Ways of Working. To be successful, you need to be focused, agile, and able to work cross-functionally to solve problems in complex environments. We’ll examine how multiple disciplines can work together seamlessly and with a common purpose.
  • Collaborate to innovate: Co-create and co-generate. How working together can generate ideas for engaging employees now – and in the future.

At the end of the forum, you will:

  • Contribute to your thought leadership network
  • Be equipped to enhance the employee engagement experience
  • Own the HR space in Basel

Want us to save you a seat?

For our inaugural event, we envision an intimate setting in order to allow for deeper, more meaningful connections and exchanges. Our attendance fees for this pilot event reflect the same spirit. Attendees will enjoy a special pricing plan:

  • Group Discount: Every group of 10 receives one free entry
  • “Early Bird Special”: 150CHF per attendee from October 15 through October 28
  • “Just In Time”: 200CHF per attendee from October 29 through November 18
  • “Last Call!”: 300CHF per attendee from November 19 through November 25

Registration is easy!

Registration is super simple with this form. Once we’ve received your name and email, you will be sent further instructions on payment.

Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to stay up-to-date!

Audience is a proud sponsor of FRESH conference 2018

Initiate Interaction – Join us at the FRESH conference 2018!

At Audience, we are always keen to explore new formats for meetings and technologies, as well as pushing new and creative approaches to communication. This year we have chosen to sponsor a unique Multi-Hub experience – the FRESH conference.

The Swiss hub will be in Basel and is sponsored and facilitated by Audience and organised by Meeting Design Institute. This year’s conference, on 27th-28th February, also has hub locations in Denmark, the U.K., and South Africa. This will be a unique opportunity for you try Multi-Hub meetings in a ‘safe environment’, allowing you to explore and test all the benefits of this exciting technology.

FRESH is a great platform for innovation, debate, interaction, experimentation and co-creation around meeting design and formats, techniques, tools and technology. Being part of this conference gives you an opportunity to make meetings more productive and effective.

The theme for FRESH 2018 is “Initiate Interaction,” and Audience’s Jeff Bateman will be facilitating a couple of so-called “Pitbull” sessions, helping attendees sink their teeth into the topics of the day, driving the discussion and debate:

  • Day One: 12.00-13.00 ­– The Fun of Rituals in Groups, and
  • Day Two: 11.10-12.00 – Interaction19, Should Meeting Designers Attend?

As part of the programme, you will also have the opportunity to hear more about our approach to communication and experiment with some of our tools:

  • Day One: 2-3pm Topic: The 3Ds Theory
    • Audience CEO, Tim Ferguson, will lead a session using a tested technique to create initiate and sustain high value interaction. The 3Ds stand for Dialogue, Discuss and Debate.
  • Day Two: 9.40-10.40am ‘Storytelling’– Speaking the language of your audience
    • Tim will introduce the Story Finder model, which focuses on audience-centric communication. Participants will immediately apply what they learn, through integrating storytelling techniques into their own projects.

And finally, what we think for some of you could be a highlight, we will be connecting with the Global Pharmaceutical and Medical Meetings Summit to facilitate an hour-long panel session with the meeting professionals in Philadelphia. https://www.thefreshconference.com/p/philadelphia-usa

If you are interested in attending FRESH 2018, please click on the link below.

We are happy to extend 20% discount for everyone using this code: AUDIENCEisFRESH20Please feel free to forward the info to any colleagues who also may be interested in attending.

Thanks again for your support, and we look forward to seeing you at FRESH!

– Tim, Jeff, and the Audience team

5 Writing Tools (1)

5 Writing Tools

Options fall into two broad categories: digital and non-digital. Each tool is ideal for a different type of writing. I find that when I am stuck, changing to the more appropriate tool can turn things around. Here are five tools with distinct advantages (interestingly, 4 of 5 are non-digital; before I switched to iPhone, my BlackBerry would have been on the list, since the keys allowed me to write in long form with ease, which is sadly not the case with the iPhone):

1.  Whiteboards

The ultimate right-brain brainstorming tool, perfect for mind mapping, theme generation, experimenting with key messages, sketching out an agenda and room set-up for a workshop, or anything where visualizing the solution is as important as the words themselves. While normally used with a group, this is an amazing tool for solo work as well.

2. Large Notebook

Ideal for longer pieces, where thinking through the writing is required, and where the writing will require multiple sittings over a period of weeks or months. Such notebooks tend to age like wine does: some reveal themselves years later to contain beautiful words of wisdom, though some turn to vinegar! Either way, they are the workhorse of creative writing.

3. Small Notebook

Pocket size, a limited number of pages, easy to toss in your bag for an inspired moment. These are perfect for lists, precise thoughts, topics, titles, catch phrases, and concepts.

4. Scrap Paper

One of the biggest barriers writers face is wanting the first draft to be perfect, be it for lack of time to fear of failure. The proverbial “back of the envelope” has a liberating quality, making it clear to the writer that this is just a super rough draft, not a polished piece of writing.

5. Laptop

I live on my laptop. It is my office, instrument, tool kit, dashboard, lifeline, and central organizing tool. It is my primary writing, design, research, social media, and entertainment device. I use it for PowerPoint, Word, and email—the holy trinity of creative writing tools in the digital era. It is a love-hate relationship, and life without it is impossible to imagine.

What are some of your favourite writing tools? Are they more old-school or new-age, or a combination of the two? I’d love to hear from you.

This post wraps up my 5 Things mini-series on writing. I hope you have enjoyed reading them. In case you missed my first two, you can read them here.

Happy writing!


Header Image.jpg

A few months ago, our creative team stumbled across these brutally honest freelance bios from McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, a satirical website. As we laughed our way through them, it occurred to us that it would be really interesting to see how our own teams think about their jobs.

Because the thing about most online bios is – they’re dull. Informative, perhaps, but usually something of a slog to get through. So we thought we would ask our team if they had ever wished they could share their hilarious/lightly scathing exaggerations about  their work. The kind of response to “What do you do?” that culminates in a deadpan “I transcribe handwritten post-its from blurry photographs into global best-practices”? You know … deep reflection about your work.

We sent out the challenge. Here are our favourites. (Actually, if we’re being brutally honest … these were the only ones sent in. Because it’s summer and holidays and *cough* that’s how it all rolled out. But we love them! Honestly!)


Paul Bremner (Creative Director, CA) is staring at his computer screen, trying to write something clever for his “Brutally Honest Bio.” He does this often—stare at his computer screen, watching the cursor as it blinks. Soon he will take a nap, and he will have the idea for a half-baked meta approach, which you are presently reading. Even though Paul has billable work he should be doing, Paul finds the “Brutally Honest Bio” challenge much more fun, so he will focus on that first. This probably explains the state of Paul’s bank account. Eventually this will lead him to seek out more paying work, hopefully from Audience.

And so it goes.

Mike Hewlett (Creative Director, UK) is a writer, ideas conjuror, concept fixer, content meddler, words masseur, apostrophe fixer, book cover judge, bigger picture seer. To keep it brief (unlike the briefs we get), Mike can write half-decent copy, direct creative ideas, and go toe-to-toe with clients on their agenda content. He also knows a lot of pointless stuff from the world beyond communications, understands the psychology of winning at rock-paper-scissors, and even used to DJ across south London pubs in Peckham, Penge, and Plumstead. This was primarily for the glamour and still comes in useful when helping to choose walk-on music for the great and the good in PDMA. He is writing this himself using the third person.

Howard Gopsill (Managing Director, CA) does not like to wear shoes.

Nicolas Kopp (Managing Director, SA) wouldn’t be caught dead wearing flip-flops (or t-shirts, or shorts) to the office.

Brandy Ryan (Creative Director, CA) manages her creative chaos systematically (as in: her systems have systems). This involves: colour-coding her handwritten notes. Cleaning whiteboards with hand sanitizer. Pushing chairs back into the table after she (and everyone else) has left. Clearing her desk at the end of each work day. (She will resist tidying your desk if you leave it a mess while on holiday, but only for one week.)

Mark Higgins (Creative Director, CA) is a collector and purveyor of rare and precious items, such as the semi-colon.

Copy of 5 Writing Tools & 5 Great Places to Write (FB) (1)

5 Great Places to Write

My last blog post asked you five questions about your approach to writing. As important as what, why, how, and when you write, is where. My own experience suggests that for at least some of us, the best spaces are betwixt and between office and home. As I travel extensively for work, my places reflect that, but I am sure if I worked from home I would need to find their equivalents. Here are my favourite five, in no particular order:

  1. The Train

I have an advantage living in Switzerland, where the trains are clean, efficient and quiet, but I learned this back in Toronto taking the subway (which is anything but a Swiss train!). As long as I have a seat, I have the perfect environment for right-brain writing: journaling, sketching, listing out theme ideas or composing short, concise speech copy. I can move quickly through a long list of items in this environment.

  1. The Airport Limo

On the rare occasion, when I’m a passenger in the back of a luxury town car for 30-60 minutes, especially in the early morning when the traffic is light, and I have given myself plenty of extra time, the peace has an uncanny effect on my thinking. From the moment I tell the driver which airline I’m flying, it takes about two seconds to plunge deep into thought, almost like going into a waking dream. This is the kind of writing where you write one sentence after 10 minutes of just thinking. Invariably, we are “suddenly” at the airport, and I feel great in knowing that I have accomplished an important piece of the puzzle on which I am working.

  1. The Shower

Like most clichés, it’s true! My big “eureka” moments are more likely to come in the shower than anywhere else. Like the Greek scientist Archimedes, the alleged coiner of the term “Eureka!”, 72% of us are inspired while in the water, according to Dr. Kauffman, psychologist and co-author of Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind. But this is no accident. I load my brain before the shower, lining up the specific problem I am trying to solve. Then, I turn my brain off and go about the routine of getting ready for work. There is something about the unconscious but primed mind that, like the CERN particle accelerator, makes an “accidental collision” certain to happen, eventually. By trusting that the key is NOT THINKING about the problem, the solution reveals itself out of nowhere.

  1. The Hotel

The first hour of the day when staying in a hotel, particularly in a different time zone, is for the hard-core productive laptop-based writing: presentations, proposals, business plans, workshop agendas, creative themes, or campaigns. I get up at 5:00 AM, crank up the in-room coffee, no matter how good or bad (from Nespresso to god-awful instant), and work until 6:00 or 6:30 before anyone on the planet knows I am awake. A writing task that seemed impossible the night before is now easily dashed off. When I am done, and I have texted my wife or started working on my email, I feel I have already accomplished a day’s work.

  1. The Airport Lounge

If I am early, and it is on the way back, and I need some to get some tough thinking or writing done, nothing beats a decent airport lounge (around the world the variability of lounge quality is massive, so you can’t count on this one). For some reason, the pressure of the gate time, combined with the anonymity and timelessness that comes with the airport experience, makes coming to conclusions relatively easy. The free drinks might help too! In any case, if I need to “close” something, the lounge is the place to do it.

Oddly, the place that many people like writing that does not work for me at all is on the plane itself, even when flying business class.

Where are you inspired to write? Are you more of an Archimedes or a business- class writer? I would love to hear from you!

The Cohesive Creative

The Cohesive Creative


Our favourite kind of creative concepts are those that run deep within a project. Think less “theme,” and more “creative platform.” Beyond a single word, tagline, or logo, the creative platform has nuance and richness. It extends naturally into elements that can go in multiple, diverse directions. And it is always clear and accessible to the audience. The creative platform doesn’t need to be explained at every turn; it simply is the fullness of the experience.

We had the chance recently to build and realize just such a project, and we’d like to share some of its highlights with you. A quick note, though: don’t read this if you’re hungry.

Read More

5 tips and tricks when writing.

5 Questions About Writing

What does it take to write a great novel, screenplay, song, or poem? Does it come easily to even the great writers, or is it always hard work? Ask any professional writer, and they will give you a similar list: time, focus, discipline, commitment, routine, persistence, courage.

Now, that PowerPoint presentation you are planning to write on the plane? It is no different. It takes time to move human thoughts onto paper. Each writer needs to find their own way to be a creative, thoughtful, and productive writer.

Here are five questions to ask yourself about your approach to writing. The sharper your answers, the more writing success you will have:

1. How much time have I scheduled for writing?

Here is a good rule of thumb for a short talk: one hour for strategic thinking, one hour for “right brain” creative writing, and one hour for “left brain” editing (followed by and an hour to rehearse). It’s advisable to take a break between the writing and editing; stepping away and coming back to your writing at a later time will give you a fresh perspective.

 2. What is the time and place?

Early morning or late at night? Listening to music or enjoying pure quiet? Café, quiet corner, or on the train? Door open or closed? Series of intense short sessions or long marathons? There is no one right answer; sometimes a writer has to try different times/places before figuring out what works best.

 3. What are the right tools?

Pen and paper, tablet, or laptop? Index cards, blank sheets of computer paper, whiteboard or flipchart? Notebook, legal-sized yellow notepads, fancy paper, the back of an envelope? The tools a writer uses depend on the situation, availability and sheer preference; again, there is no one right answer.

 4. How many drafts?

The Canadian novelist Timothy Findley told me, “first write, then get it right.” He meant that the first drafts are just getting the ideas out, that you don’t know what to say until you have tried saying it. In the busy corporate world, it is natural to want to the first draft to be the final draft. Go for at least two, three, four or more.

 5. Who is my editor?

Behind every great writer is a great editor. We need someone with a reader’s perspective to see the areas that make sense, those that don’t, those sentences that can be cut, and the parts that need to be expanded. Find someone you trust and make a habit of getting their feedback. And remember, for many writers the part they personally love the most is the part that needs to go.

Happy writing!