James Ashton: IOD hits a cheeky note with Clegg

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The Independent Online

It's not hard for the chandeliered splendour of the Institute of Directors' (IOD) Pall Mall headquarters to seem out of kilter with the modern business world.

The place is always bustling when I go in, but I wonder whether giving it a Regus-style makeover would bring in more young entrepreneurs.

That is one of the challenges for Simon Walker who took over as director-general last autumn. The downturn has meant the IOD has had a tough few years, shedding a quarter of its membership since 2006. Staying relevant is the challenge when there are so many other competing voices for business.

With that in mind, the IOD scored a scheduling hit this week. Holding its annual conference on the day the latest GDP figures were released was always likely to throw up talking points. Having Nick Clegg on stage to defend the Coalition's economic strategy within hours of the return to recession was a coup as well.

And welcoming the Deputy Prime Minister to the podium with the soundtrack of Don't Stop Believing? Well that was just cheeky – but great publicity.