PR Directions points the way ahead in Australia
The tweets were flying out of Australia in October when Brian Solis opened the PRIA National Conference, PR Directions. He told delegates the story of social media, how to embrace it effectively and what we can expect in the future.
Brian talked about PR being a story that you should represent via direct engagement –thinking about why that story matters to people and what is the sharable experience that is being created? He suggested that we need to learn how to rewire the way we work to succeed in this customer-driven revolution and remember that as PR professionals we are also influencers ourselves. He provided some practical, memorable sound-bites of advice, such as context, not content is king in social media; KISS: keep it significant and sharable; resonance is the true metric of social media; and brands aren’t created, they’re co-created. No wonder then that one ingenious tweeter described Brian Solis as social media’s ‘Master Yoda’.
It was also a conference of celebration with the Golden Target Awards recognising the year’s most outstanding PR and communication campaigns and the announcement of the new PRIA President, Nicholas Turner and Deputy-President, Adam Thomson.
Other conference highlights included Lachlan Harris – the former Senior Press Secretary to PM Kevin Rudd. He focused on the displacement of the news cycle with the opinion cycle, where arguments not facts reign supreme. Lachlan argued that this is due to the relatively cheap nature of opinion – which requires no crew, no travel nor any verification. It is, in essence, easy to obtain and maintain.
Lachlan believes this trend has created a divisive and brutal culture in which Australian politicians are now operating, with the vast majority of negative comments generated by communities. The level of fear politicians now experience in the face of bad press is higher than it has ever been, especially as issues and topics tend to be dwelt on for longer periods of time. The fall-out from this, Lachlan said, is that policy development is being restrained by accusation, stymying true reform and distracting politicians as they act according to outcomes instead of what is right. We now know that the fault-lines will be sought out in any political announcements, ahead of the facts.
It’s not all doom and gloom though according to Lachlan, as those who demonstrate a little bit of ‘grace, patience and good humour’ will be able to weather the negative comments and push through to achieve their objectives. And perhaps the pendulum will swing back the other way eventually – in favour of the news cycle once more.
Closing address was from the ‘Queen of the Media’ herself, Australian icon Ita Buttrose. Ita’s examined the influence of the media on society - or whether it is vice versa .
By taking a look back at the ability of The Australian Women’s Weekly and Cleo to effect positive change in public life – acting as a conduit and amplifier for the voices of those who usually fell silent – Ita demonstrated how ‘society and the media can work together for the betterment of both.’
Ita also spoke about the transformational power of social media. Having recently joined Twitter, she has been using this as a platform to spread messages about Alzheimer’s and dementia in Australia. She believes that the media is increasingly coming under scrutiny via social media, which may help to keep the media honest as people increasingly find their voice online. Ita advised though, that if we don’t speak our minds and directly comment on what we see in the media - then we cannot expect anything to change.
Following what has been a memorable and hugely successful national conference PRIA is already looking forward to hosting the World Public Relations Forum (WPRF) in Melbourne next year. This will take place November 18-20 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and will bring together the world’s leading communicators to present new methods, research and ideas in the field of professional communication. Over the next 12 months we will keep you updated on news from the organising committee, including who you can expect to see. If you have any thoughts and suggestions on speakers or topics, let us know via the WPRF 2012 Facebook page.
To register your interest in attending the WPRF, click here.
The Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) is the national industry body for public relations and communication professionals in Australia. PRIA represents and provides professional support and recognition to over 3,000 individual practitioners and more than 175 consultancies nationwide. Since 1949, it has been PRIA's role to promote and enhance the profession and its status to the broader community. PRIA enforces the highest standards of ethical practice and represent public relations practitioners in the best interests of the profession.