October 22, 2009 05:33 ET

Channel 4's 'Undercover Boss' Delivers Inspirational Speech to Europe's Largest Annual Gathering of Senior Communication Professionals

"If we are to survive the recession we must communicate more than ever before." In his first public presentation since the groundbreaking television series Stephen Martin, CEO of Clugston Group, gives a timely warning to recession-hit businesses

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Oct. 22, 2009) - "The tough times are far from over and we must react now by communicating far more effectively with our employees." This was the key message delivered by Stephen Martin, chief executive of British construction firm Clugston Group at the 8th annual Melcrum Strategic Communication Management Summit in London last week ( This was Martin's first public presentation since starring in the hit Channel 4 television series, "The Undercover Boss".

By going undercover and armed with a false identity, Martin adopted a unique approach to making sure that as a business leader, he not only understood what mattered to his workforce, but also knew how best to harness what he learned to achieve real business results.

Armed with a cover story, he worked 15-hour days alongside his frontline employees pouring concrete and doing freezing night shifts repairing roads, while searching for the best way to run the business. After two weeks he revealed his true identity and introduced some major changes.

As a result a new business was born. Why? Because in his own words, "Communication is one of the most important factors behind business success and chief executives have to realise that before it's too late," he said.

Martin gave a no-holds-barred presentation on the lessons he learned from going undercover. Delegates were captivated by his performance and the unique experience he went through in an attempt to take the business forward during the biggest downturn in 60 years.

Here are his 10 tips on how CEO's should communicate to employees during and after a recession:

1. Communicate, communicate, communicate: Communicate more regularly then ever before.

2. Always be seen by employees - leave your ivory tower and listen to what frontline employees have to say.

3. Inform widely and get large-scale opinion form employees.

4. Eliminate the culture of executives in suits and workers in overalls/uniform - this puts employees off and communication is immediately lost.

5. Brown bag lunches - my door is always open and I regularly have lunch with my employees but only when it suits them.

6. Refresh your communications as often as possible.

7. Ask and consult your employees at all times - go around the office/construction site/shop floor and ask all of them what they think.

8. Demonstrate you have listened and stick to your promises.

9. Talk to them at a time that suits them.

10. Invest in training of frontline supervisors and managers - if you don't nothing will change.

Martin donated his Melcrum speaker fee to 'When you wish upon a star' (, a charity founded in Nottingham that grants the wishes of children across the UK aged between two and 16 years of age, all of whom have a life-threatening illness.

"I would like to say a big thank you to everyone at Melcrum for organising such an outstanding communications event and for donating such a sizeable sum to a small national charity," said Martin. "Melcrum's donation will really make some dreams come true for children with terminal illness," he added.

About Melcrum

Melcrum is a research and training business with expertise in all aspects of internal communication with offices in London, Chicago and Sydney. Founded in 1996 by Robin Crumby and Victoria Mellor, Melcrum has customers in over 90 countries. Through its global networks, Melcrum connects more than 25,000 professional communicators in sharing what works.

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