Industry News

John Makin, a life-long, active supporter and shaper of Institute of Internal Communication and a former president, died on 16 January. 

In 1966, John (pictured with his wife, Alicia) joined what was then the British Association of Industrial Editors (BAIE). Over the next two decades,among other roles and responsibilities, he ran the conference and was national chairman, a member of governing body Senate, and president from 1996 to 2000.
 
At the forefront of internal communications throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, John launched and ran two of London’s most successful corporate publishing agencies – IH Publications (1967–1980) and Dewe Rogerson Corporate Publishing (1980–1998). He produced a string of award-winning magazines and newspapers for major UK companies.
 
John was seen as a leader in the revolution of using house journals – and the flood of new technologies and production techniques that emerged in the ’80s and ’90s – to connect with employees. These techniques ranged from phototypesetting, web offset printing and full colour in newspapers to desktop publishing, on-screen publishing, intranets and full scale networks. He once commented: “We were the ones who saw the potential of these innovations. It was years before the national press caught up.”
 
No stranger to consumer publications, John’s journalistic career began in Fleet Street as a junior sub on Everybody’s. He went on to hone his editing skills on TV Mirror, Motoring News and Cine Camera. His corporate career began in 1964 when he joined Parker PR to edit Plessey’s house journals.
 
After leaving Dewe Rogerson, where he also ran the company’s offshoot CXT press cuttings agency, John worked closer to home as editorial consultant at Surrey House Publishing. In 2003, he moved office to home, continuing to edit a number of publications, notably Rio Tinto Review.
 
After retiring from internal comms, he kept his hand in with a new career as a book editor, something he did in conjunction with his wife, Alicia, herself a former house journal editor, whom he married after meeting at a BAIE London region Christmas party in 1968.
 
Helped shape the Institute

Tributes have been paid to John from throughout the communications industry.
 
“John very often cast himself in the role of ‘devil’s advocate’, causing us to re-examine any number of ill-conceived proposals put to council,” says Kathie Jones, former chief executive of IoIC. “He was an internal communicator without parallel, and completely devoted to ensuing BAIE did the best training, held well-established events, and organised successful national awards competitions. Internal communication can ill-afford to lose men of John’s stature – he will be sadly missed.”
 
Former IoIC board director Steve Knight recalls: “John and I clashed on many occasions and agreed on many others – we were both passionate about our Association. He had a wickedly scurrilous sense of humour and an absolute love of making mischief. If there was a reason for doing something, then John would know why it shouldn't be done that way. In all our dealings, however, the one thing I never doubted was that John honestly believed that he was right – and often he proved to be so. John was neither cold, nor timid. In Association terms, he was a giant and I was glad to count him as a true friend.”
 
“When I served as national chairman, John was always encouraging and a source of friendly advice and counsel,” says former chairman Ken Hunter. “He could be serious and intense but a smile and chuckle were never distant. Over the years, we didn't always agree, but we never fell out. He was in every sense a big man.”
 
Former chairman Tim Buckley says: “John Makin was a giant of a man, in stature, personality and wisdom. In business, John and I were competitors, first when he worked at Dewe Rogerson and then at Surrey House. He was a fine adversary and we always knew we’d have a tough pitch when John and his team walked out of a client room ahead of us. Outside of work, he could fill an evening with anecdotes and was always a pleasure to share a drink with. I will always remember him with fondness.”
 
Current IoIC president Suzanne Peck says: “My lasting memory of John was of an eloquent, razor-sharp debater who wasn’t afraid to present a challenging view – not challenging for challenge’s sake, but presenting a different view that was thoughtful and relevant. At council meetings and later as president and vice-president, he’d lead the discussion and his firm beliefs and conviction of the good that great internal communications can achieve helped to shape us into the institute it is today.” 
 
Geoff Thomas, IoIC fellow and past national chairman, first met John in the mid-1970s when he joined BAIE, having moved into corporate communications from the regional and motoring press. “I soon discovered that John was both an excellent journalist and also a fellow ‘petrol head’. Indeed, we had both worked for the same motoring publication at previous points in our writing careers. He was hugely supportive during my time on BAIE council and also when I became chairman and his wise counsel was always much appreciated. He was a good friend, colleague and adviser over more than 40 years and the professional body that we all belong to owes him, and his hugely supportive wife Alicia, an immense debt of gratitude.”
 
The details of his funeral should friends wish to attend are as follows:
Date: Tuesday 7th February
Time: 2.45pm
Location: Randalls Park Crematorium, Randalls Road, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 0AG
Telephone: 01372 363181
 
Afterwards at:
Woodlands Park Hotel, Woodlands Lane, Stoke D'Abernon, Cobham, Surrey KT11 3QB
Telephone: 01372 849012
 

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