Keith Hann | Influence 100
Charting the future of public relations
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Keith Hann

Director of Corporate Affairs
Iceland
UK

 

 

Hann had, by his own admission, only drifted into financial public relations at the age of 29 following unsuccessful attempts at careers in historical research and investment analysis. By 1999, he had become managing director (and then deputy chairman) of City consultancy Hudson Sandler, where his assignments included the record-breaking flotation of Iceland Foods in 1984, beginning a close and lasting association with the frozen food retailer.

Hann retired from the agency in 2004 but continued consulting independently, before finally making the transition to director of corporate affairs at Iceland in 2017. Under his watch, the firm, its founder, Malcolm Walker, and his son, CEO Richard Walker, have shaped and delivered high-profile, award-winning, industry-disrupting initiatives such as the #TooCoolForPlastic and #PalmOilAlarmCall campaigns.

Not known for taking himself too seriously, Hann is the author of The Bluffer’s Guide to Public Relations and The Bluffer’s Guide to Opera.

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
Iceland's banning of GM ingredients from its own label products in 1998 shifted the whole UK food industry in the same direction, changed perceptions of the company – and also boosted sales.

What do you love about this industry?
The almost-daily opportunity to laugh at failure.

What most frustrates you about this industry?
The refusal of so many within it to recognise that nothing in this life matters very much – and that few things matter at all.

What are the communications industry’s biggest challenges and opportunities?
Combating fake news and overcoming the ever-increasing scepticism it engenders.

How do you relax or change pace when you’re not at work?
Listening to opera, drinking to excess, and trying to keep up with two small children.

Can you share a book/movie/TV show/podcast that teaches a valuable lesson about PR?
“The Thick Of It,” which I re-enact on a daily basis. Only with more swearing.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
An extremely unsuccessful novelist.