Looking back, looking forwards
Anne Gregory, Global Alliance Chair
January is traditionally the time for New Year resolutions. The break most of us have when moving from one year to another gives pause for thought on the old year and a time to re-focus on what is important for the next year.
So, my reflections on the old year? Since taking over as Chair of Global Alliance six months ago it has been my privilege to travel and meet professional colleagues in six different countries in four continents outside the UK and two of these countries I’ve visited twice. In all of them I see a profession that is growing in size and confidence and where opportunities are increasing. All want to raise professional standards and are constantly asking about benchmarks and best practice against which they can measure themselves: there is a thirst for new knowledge and a hunger to realise the potential of the profession.
I see differences in the profession depending on the circumstances in each country, but there is no gap between the very best practice - one of the positive effects of globalisation. What is notable though is that the opportunities for professional development and their provision by our member professional associations is understandably variable and largely reflective of the resources at their disposal. Similarly, the courses available from higher education institutions in each country is patchy.
That makes our agreed agenda for 2014 challenging, but clear. Our Global Survey (more on this next month) which we are piloting this year, will give us significant benchmark data and clear pointers to the areas that need more focused intelligence. This will be complemented by the case studies that have come from our now annual Global Awards showing best practice from around the world and which also features teaching cases. Our growing bank of country landscapes, profile not only the public relations profession in various countries, but the media, economic and social background which provides the context.
Our plans to put together a package for emerging and smaller associations will help them with some of their capacity issues and we now have a number of larger associations offering to ‘buddy’ smaller ones. Of course the traffic is not all one way. Smaller associations have much to teach large ones about different cultures and ways of working, which in turn help to educate our global community.
Our flagship event for 2014 is the World Public Relations Forum in Madrid, Spain, from 21 – 23 September. Not only is this likely to be our largest WPRF to date, but also the most diverse. For the first time it will be in two languages: English and Spanish and this opens up opportunities for our South American colleagues in particular. This group has been significantly under-represented at our events to date, so we look forwards to learning and sharing much with one of the most economically vibrant regions in the world.
Two major additions to the Forum in Madrid will be our second Academic Colloquium to which academics and practitioners are invited to submit papers and a special workshop for Association Leaders. The workshop is being extended by popular demand and will be the opportunity for member associations to discuss the key issues facing them. The main topic for discussion is professional development and education, but please do contact us about other issues which are pressing.
Our challenge in 2014, as a confederation of associations and educational institutions is to provide the leadership in setting standards and sharing knowledge around the global. Crucially, it is also to be the advocate for our profession to others. As we continue our work with the International Integrated Reporting Council on developing a compelling case for the value of intangible assets, we will advance on this front too. Over the next few months I will also be able to share with you our developing initiatives in leadership: problems in leadership have been identified by the World Economic Forum as one of the top 10 trends facing the world. As we know, communication with integrity is key. The world needs our profession to provide some solutions to the problems of leadership – quite a task, but one that is worth taking on!
As 2014 begins I am excited about the way the profession globally is developing. There is much to do, so let’s get on with it.
Global Alliance Chair