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Postcard From Bled

The 25th annual Bled Conference is over. Three days of debate and discussion on what’s going on in the industry -mainly but not exclusively from an academic perspective; mainly populated by academics, but with a decent number of practitioners too. 

This year was the first in which ICCO and the PRCA have been present, a presence which seemed natural given we’ve just joined Euprera, and nominated Sue Wolstenholme as our representative on it. 

So what insight do I leave with? 

First, that there is some very deep thinking about the future of our industry going on right now. The range of topics covered by the papers presented was vast -AI, ethics, evaluation, theories of engagement. 

Second, that the industry continues to challenge itself -in a good way. I fundamentally disagree for example with the panel who pretty much all agreed that ‘PR is in crisis’. I think they’re wrong, but it’s vital to hear criticism and to reflect upon it. 

Third, that we have more to do in building a bridge between practitioners and academics. We’ve done this pretty effectively in the UK with our PRCA Partner University programme. The time is right to extend this internationally. 

So we will be launching an international equivalent of this work. By engaging with the world’s elite PR-qualification offering universities in countries around the world, we will build a bridge between academia and practitioners.

In detail, we will do this by:

  • Giving their students, their academic staff, and their communications teams free online training in practical PR skills
  • Supporting international work placements and student exchanges across the network
  • Providing speaking opportunities for leading academics
  • Collating international thought leadership 
  • Providing access to global award-winning campaigns and case studies

And most importantly, providing a formal mechanism for debate, with an annual event that facilitates proper discussion on the future of our industry, with senior academics and senior practitioners present and engaged.  

I hope that all parts of our industry are willing to take part -we will all be better at what do we as a result, and our industry will move forward even more quickly and decisively.

One final thought that I hope is both amusing and instructive. At a comically bad restaurant in Bled (very much the exception I hasten to add), I was told ‘You get what you get’. Which wasn’t quite my understanding of how restaurants are supposed to work. Too often in our industry though, that’s the case -we accept situations that we’re not happy with. So let’s resolve no longer to get what we get: but instead to get what we need for our industry -a renewed and vibrant international partnership between academics and practitioners.  

PS. And yes. I did actually row all around the lake....... 

Article written by PRCA director general Francis Ingham

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