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Adelaide puts PRIA National Conference on the PR frontline with the ‘Inside Story’ on tactics, strategies and brand reputation

December 4, 2013


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On 17-19 November, over 250 public relations and communications delegates gathered in the stunning surrounds of Adelaide for the Public Relations Institute of Australia’s 2013 National Conference. Highlights included a Strategic Content Master Class in the Barossa Valley, keynote presentation by Rob Flaherty, CEO of Ketchum Communications, and the annual National Golden Target Awards at the National Wine Centre.


The theme of this year’s conference was ‘The Inside Story’. PRIA secured some amazing speakers that explored how communication practitioners can provide effective counsel in the evolving media landscape that requires new tactics, strategies and a constant eye on brand reputation. Speakers gave valuable insight into the skills that are required in the new communication era, including traditional skills of listening, influencing and creativity, and integrating them on new online spaces.  The conference delved into themes that are a must for public relations and communication professionals, including content marketing, social and digital media, issues and crisis management, and many more.


The conference kicked off in the Barossa Valley with a Strategic Creative Communications Master Class. United States based marketing powerhouse consultants and international speakers Steve and Cindy Crescenzo showed our delegates how to create engaging stories using creative communications that have a clear, demonstrable and successful link to organisation goals and objectives. The dynamic duo had the audience engaged and laughing from the get-go with real-life case studies and practical examples of how to take dry, unengaging, over-regulated corporate content and turn it into stories to inspire audiences to read, watch and listen. The pair left the delegates with one key message: ‘do less, do it better’.


Day two of the main conference dove ‘inside’ public relations and communications by giving delegates the exclusive details of highly successful campaigns and hearing from leading international communication experts. The keynote for the day was delivered by Rob Flaherty, CEO of Ketchum in the United States who lit up the room with his insights, wisdom and high-level look into the public relations and wider creative industries.


The day moved into crisis communications with Cheryl Fiandaca from the Boston Police Department who was live streamed from Boston to talk about the Boston Bombings.  Footage of the bombings and the aftermath silenced the room with the horrific happenings that unfolded that day and how Boston PD became the one true source of information throughout the ordeal. Twitter was the key in disseminating real-time and trusted information to its publics.  When the suspect was finally captured, the tweet from Boston PD was shared over 140,000 times.  Patricia Swann from Utica College Boston and Andrew Edwards from the SES discussed their unique perceptions around the skill of communicating in crisis situations from a global to a local perspective.


Monday night and day one of the main conference came to a dramatic close with the 2013 PRIA National Golden Target Awards at the National Wine Centre. Guests arrived under the amazing sunset of the Adelaide skyline and were spoiled with some fabulous weather. CEO of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide Kieran Moore welcomed guests to the venue and explained the reasons behind her taking on the role of GTA Chair. She discussed changes to the entry process and how the awards will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. Official Master of Ceremonies for the awards proceedings was Ten News’ Mark Aiston who brought his own charisma and charm to the evening. Awards on the night were presented by GTA Chair Kieran Moore, PRIA National President Terri-Helen Gaynor, PRIA CEO Catriona Barry and University of Technology Public Communication Professor Jim McNamara.


The list of winners from the night can be found at


Inside the C-Suite was how the last day of main proceedings started out. Leigh McClusky grilled panellists on how decision makers see the role of PRs.  Themes touched on the day before again came forth with the panel siting that PR professionals are often brought into key decision making, especially around a crisis. The day quickly moved into the digital space and focussed very heavily on the importance of capturing, analysing and using data to get messages to the right audience. From Wikipedia to University of South Australia, eBay to Social@Ogilvy, speakers had excellent advice and information around how the digital space is evolving and the importance of up-skilling to stay ahead of the curve.


The conference was an astounding success, bringing together the best in Australia and the world to reflect on the changes that are taking place within our industry and looking to the challenges that lie ahead. We can’t wait to do it all again next year and the million dollar question is ‘which state could follow this?’ The Public Relations Institute of Australia thanks everyone for their contribution in making this event a successful one. A special thank you goes to our speakers and sponsors who facilitated the successful coming together of the Australian public relations and communications industry. Shout out as well to our fantastic social media squad who covered the event on twitter and made the #PRIA2013 hashtag a trending topic in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, gaining exposure of over 4 million people generated by 150 contributors and reaching over 220,000 Twitter accounts.