Robert Phillips works at the vanguard of future business thinking on trust, communications and leadership. He argues that the so-called “crisis of trust” is much over-blown and mis-understood and used by politicians and business leaders to mask a more profound crisis of leadership.
Author of the ground-breaking and controversial Trust PR, PR is Dead, Phillips works with CEOs and leadership teams of major global organisations to re-think and re-set their engagement strategies in the much-vaunted “new normal”. He advocates new operating principles of activism, co-production, vulnerability and dissent and believes a culture of measurement and a reliance on “message management” runs to the heart of the problem.
Having quit as President and CEO, EMEA, of Edelman, the world’s largest Public Relations firm, because, in his own words, “he no longer believed in what he was doing”, Phillips has championed new ways of working and communicating. Trustworthiness is more important than trust itself. Leaders must think and behave like social activists if their own leadership, corporations and brands are to remain credible and relevant. Radical honesty and radical transparency triumph in a world where spin is not only dead, but counter-productive and ultimately dangerous.
Phillips is the co-founder of Jericho Chambers, a consultancy committed to a better society and the common good, helping clients navigate towards meaningful change. His work ranges from Responsible Tax and the future of work – to housing, infrastructure and the built environment.
Phillips is a Visiting Professor at Cass Business School, City, University of London. He set up his first business at the age of 21, while still at university, before co-founding the award-winning Jackie Cooper PR, which he sold to Edelman in 2004. In a 30-year career, he has been on the front-line with some of the biggest corporate issues and crises, while providing strategy and communications advice to a number of FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 CEOs and senior leadership teams.
“Robert was an early forerunner of the now prevalent Post-Truth, Post-Trust assessment of the modern world, back when Brexit Britain and President Trump were the stuff of bizarre fantasy. His honest and thought-provoking take on what we do now is essential for anyone who wishes to influence and persuade.”
FTSE 100 Communications Director
“Robert is one of those rare individuals who its able to challenge existing assumptions and beliefs in such a way that real shifts in thinking take place. Robert did this when working with our senior leaders and through well aimed provocation, solid research and his own experience – he was able to change the conversation both in the classroom and back in the markets. It is a joy to work with someone who is unafraid to ask the big questions.”
(Former) SABMiller Global Head of Leadership Development
“Robert presented on the philosophical and increasingly real challenges for current business leaders. He gave an incredibly insightful perspective based on vision, ethics and morality. His first-hand experience of business, underpinned with deep historical context and a healthy dose of common sense, gave the presentation real meaning and substance. You may not agree with everything that he says but you will certainly feel more stimulated and able to debate and address the complex issues of the day.”
CEO, Cushman & Wakefield
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