Stempra AGM 2015

6th May 2015

Below are the minutes from our 2015 AGM:

Date and time: 7.00pm Tuesday 21st April
Venue: The Yorkshire Grey, 2 Theobalds Rd, London, WC1X 8PN

Approve minutes from 2014 AGM

Update from the Chair
Ed Sykes updated AGM of the events throughout the year and the work of the Committee, including:
Our 10 general sessions (including: working with TV; coping in a crisis; working with international press; study on press releases), networking events and breakfast meetings plus plans for an upcoming event in Manchester
Press Officers’ Training Day (~150 attendees) – the Committee decided to stop trying to reinvent the wheel and be proud that each year we put on an event that gives early career press officers an understanding of the Stempra way of working. Sessions included: forging a career; statistics; crisis communications; ethics; digital communications; meet the journalists.
Moving to the new automated membership system. Led by Nicola Kane, this built on work from Simon Levey and the previous committee.
Internet banking and automated payment
New website led by Emma Knott.
Speaking out on areas that fall under Stempra’s remit (see AOB)
Discussions with the CIPR and BIS. Rob Dawson acting as Stempra’s representative, and we were integral to the joint CIPR/BIS/Stempra event last Summer
Thanks to Rebecca Nesbit and Holly Rogers for their amazing work on the Committee

Update from the Treasurer
Sallie Robbins updated the AGM on advances during 2015
We have online banking and have been able to move over to an automated payment system which works with Paypal
We have healthy reserves and a £100 net surplus for income – expenditure
Stempra is not a profit-making organisation and should be using the money it holds to benefit the Membership. In addition to the reserves, which would cover the costs if we had to close Stempra completely, we have a large amount in the current account. Over the next few years the Committee will not be averse to operating at a loss and spending some of this money on new projects. If income drops then we would reassess.

Word from Peter Cooper. to say congratulations to Sallie, Ed etc for the way the accounts have been run.

Approve accounts
Accounts for 2015-16 were approved.

Appoint auditor for the next year
Peter Cooper was approved as auditor for 2015-16

Voting for 2015-16 committee
Emma Knott was voted in for the role of Website Editor

There were seven candidates for five non-portfolio Committee member positions. Each candidate spoke for two minutes and attendees registered their votes for the five candidates that they wanted to elect.
Hayley Burwell, Rob Dawson, Jess Devonport, Claire Hastings and Clare Ryan were elected to the Stempra Committee as non-portfolio officers.

Congratulations to the new Committee members and thanks to the others who ran.

Proposals for future events
Sallie Robins chaired a brainstorm of possible events for 2015

Simon Levey:
Event on policy i.e. how to use the voice of Stempra effectively and on what issues

Hayley Burwell
Event on digital i.e. making films/podcasts etc for your organisation (Hayley offered to organise)

Nancy Mendoza
The state of the profession of science PR – freelancers, diversity in science PR, how to advocate for comms in your organisation (Nancy offered to organise/be involved)

Claire Hastings
Communicating science policy stories, eg: evidence to parliamentary committees, Cancer Drugs Fund, NICE announcements. Conflict of interest i.e. with pharma wanting to promote products (Nancy M said she would be happy to be involved with this too)

Indy Ghangrekar:
What is actually meant by PR – an honest reflection of the job, what it is and what it isn’t

Hayley Burwell:
Media training if your organisation doesn’t pay for it. How best to train your spokespeople, best practice, top tips (again Nancy said happy to be involved)

Elspeth Houlding:
Alternative forms of PR to press releases

Bryony Chinnery:
For people from non-science backgrounds: a discussion of what things you should and shouldn’t do in promoting science

The Committee will follow up with these people where appropriate to organise these events.


There was a discussion about Stempra engaging with public issues e.g. signing up to letters or making statements to the media. Currently the Committee debates whether to speak on behalf of the Membership. If more than half the Committee agrees to a statement then they have the remit to speak on behalf of Stempra as an organisation. If agreement cannot be reached in time then Ed is free to make statements as Chair of Stempra. The members present at the AGM agreed with this system and it was announced that the plans would be shared with the rest of the Membership in the next newsletter.

Andrew Garrett suggested we use the Single Transferable Vote system for future AGMs as the fairest, and most efficient, way of voting in Committee members.

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