One of the most high-powered delegations of Chinese officials spent time at the University of Westminster learning some of the skills that help UK communications professionals engage the media and public in a digital age.Â They attended a two-week course run through the University of Westminsterâ€™s China Media Centre during which time they heard from WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell, former-PM Gordon Brownâ€™s spokesman, Simon Lewis, and award-winning journalist Heather Brooke, whose Freedom of Information campaign to disclose MPsâ€™ expenses had led to major reform.
Seminars were led by Edelmanâ€™s new Chief Content Officer and former BBC Director of Global News Richard Sambrook,Â Crisis Communications expert Mike Regester and Director of Communications at the Department for Business, Innovation and skills Russell Grossman.Â Barclayâ€™s Corporate Affairs Director Howell James and the BBCâ€™s Senior Communications Advisor DonaldÂ Steel hosted sessions, as did senior officials at the Central Office of Information and senior partner at Portland Communications, Martin Sheehan. The Office of the First Minister in the Welsh Assembly Government organised a briefing for delegates in Cardiff on the management ofÂ communications and media relations in a devolved administration, and delegates also met the All Party Parliamentary China Group in Parliament.
Professor Colin Sparks, director of CAMRI, the universityâ€™s centre for global media and social change, introduced the UK media system, while Professor Hugo de Burgh, founder and director of the China Media Centre, lectured on the representation of China in the UK media.
Delegates were all ministerial spokespersons – officials who represent their Secretaries of State and Ministers in public and are themselves senior career politicians.