As the Art Director for the Alan Howard Foundation Speaker Series, I am very fortunate to be able to attend the events. Over the years, these have ranged from politicians, artists, investors and designers, engaging in open conversation with the host and the intimate audience in Howard Hall at the JW3.
On Monday the 6th of February, it was the turn of former Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
I won't patronise anyone reading this by giving them an overview of the former Labour Party Leader – his actions and their consequences are very well documented. Suffice to say, he is a divisive figure.
However, what was most interesting about the event, was also a wonderful lesson in PR. Rather than shy away from the many issues surrounding his career, he faced them head on. Tanya Bryer put questions to him about Brexit, Iraq, Middle East, Corbyn, Trump and more.
Blair was able to tackle the various subjects, but on his own terms, speaking very sensibly and articulately throughout. At times he was passionate, at others he broke into easy laughter, but always taking the audience along with him. He remains an excellent orator.
Had he not dealt with the issues then perhaps the audience wouldn't have asked about them, and would've left with negative feelings. Instead, by setting his own terms and then not hiding from them, the audience's opinions were open to change.
Whilst my thoughts on the former PM remain ambivalent (at best), this was without doubt an excellent display in Public Relations.