Different places, different spaces...
Anne Gregory, Global Alliance Chair
In the last month I’ve had the privilege to meet and work with public relations colleagues in Australia, Sweden and Serbia. All very different places and all providing very different contexts for our practice. Australia is a land of growth and opportunity, and although there has been somewhat of a slow-down very recently, the number of public relations jobs and courses at Universities are growing. It’s a place where the profession is booming.
In Sweden, where Global Alliance member Sveriges Kommunikatörer (SACP) is the second largest professional association in Europe, the practice is mature. Here the focus is on the professional development of colleagues, with public relations being positioned as a serious management discipline.
Serbia is a land of contrasts. Now recovering from the aftermath of the war in the former Yugoslavia, the public relations profession is re-grouping.
There are areas of outstanding practice, comparable with anything anywhere else in the world, as was my experience. There are other areas where work remains to be done.
These differences provide both an opportunity and a challenge for us. We are indeed a global profession, underpinned by a digital commons and working in increasingly globalised and interdependent trading, social and political systems. The challenge is to remember that while these factors bring a tendency towards a level of uniformity, local experiences can be very different. I’ve been reminded again that at the end of the virtual connections are real people with different lives and that this is a cause for respect and celebration.
The opportunity this brings is exciting and energising and it’s not just in the opening of new spaces where we can work, both geographic and disciplinary, but it is the way we can advance our profession. Again I have been reminded that Chief Executives from public, private and not for profit organisations are looking to their public relations and communication professionals to help them deal with the new accountabilities they face. The opportunities for us to lead have never been greater.
At the World Public Relations Forum in September 2014 in Madrid we’ll be taking this as our main theme. A keynote speaker will be Martina Gmur, Senior Director of the World Economic Forum and responsible for bringing together the Forum’s seminal annual Global Agenda reports. The Outlook on the Global Agenda 2014 identifies leadership as a key issue. A new leadership model is needed. There is a vital role for us to play here. After all it’s often us who advise CEOs on their wider responsibilities and it’s often us, through our organisations, who make major contributions to the public debate on issues that go far wider than our organisations. So, the opportunity is for us to show leadership, in our organisations, in our profession, in our countries and to our wider world. A Madrid we’ll be working on how that new leadership model might develop.
Global Alliance Chair