Talking Point

Future Comms 15

I love my job.  I am confident about the future of PR and communications and I would encourage anyone thinking of their career to consider this one.

Yesterday, I was asked as President of the CIPR to speak at and chair a session at Future Comms 15.  It was a mixed day.

The low points

  • The two ‘keynotes’ were both men.  In a profession that’s 67% female, that was not the best opening to what the future might look like.
  • We were told that PR is dead.
  • That the future is all about content (we know, we’ve been doing that for years)
  • That we are not in the business of telling the truth (YES WE ARE)
  • That it’s only when PR get the importance of engagement that we’ll flourish (ahem, have you seen how council and NHS, and many public sector comms teams work?)

Getting involved

Oh I could go on.

But, I was due to join a panel.  That ghastly feeling in my stomach was rising.  Nerves on a scale I had not felt before.

Oh no, not nerves.  Once on the platform, I realised I was cross and I was bored.

The panel was entitled:  PR and content marketing – the great divide.  NO.  PR provides content.  It is what we do.  What we have always done.

Public Relations, we know, because of the research done by the CIPR is alive and well.  It’s thriving and its influence is growing and developing.

There is optimism amongst PRs.  This is our moment, there is a growing understanding of what we do.

The conference would have been amazing if every agency bod, every freelance and every in house person had brought their CEO.  That would have made my day.

I am bored with naval gazing.  We are doing great things.  We have got our stuff together and are doing a brilliant job.

Some organisations do not understand public relations, they do not support our work, or they marginalise us to media relations, which whilst remains part of the mix of PR, it is only part.  Others want the world but are not willing to pay for it.  So, there are still challenges.

Women have a vital role to play, so when it came to chairing my session, I didn’t take my place in the red chair, I stood up and gave the seat to a woman from the audience who wanted to take part.  Step forward the amazing Stella Bayles, who contributed brilliantly to a discussion about Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned media.


my panel at FC15

So my conclusions on yesterday:

  • PR is in great shape
  • We need more women to come forward to sit on panels and we need more conference organisers to be aware of their male/female balance.
  • PR people are passionate, resilient, highly skilled and great fun
  • A good story, told well, is what we do; the platforms and outlets are changing, but they still require excellent content.
  • PR has loads of opportunities and chances to contribute.

I love conferences that challenge and this one certainly did that.  In the words of Dan Slee, watching on Twitter “Future Comms was full of people who gave a stuff.”

I give a massive stuff.



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