Last month, Quincy and I traded London’s cold January drizzle for the glorious sunshine of Miami, which was rather fortunately the location of this year’s annual IPREX Global Leadership Conference.
IPREX is one of the world’s largest public relations networks with 68 partnering agencies, spanning across 30 countries and 90 offices. This year’s conference “PR 20:20—Envisioning and becoming agencies of the future,” gave us a great chance to meet our fellow American and Canadian IPREX partners to discuss together the issues affecting our practices and how we can work more closely together to confront these going forward. Specifically, one of the main issues we looked at was how the changing role of technology and new digital innovations affect PR professionals and how best to capitalise effectively on emerging online trends in social media.
As communications specialists working in an increasingly digitalised environment, evolving business models is critical. It is clear we need to incorporate and efficiently manage the rapidly changing channels of information and methods of building relationships. The conference therefore opened up some insightful discussions on how best to address these shifting dynamics by optimising our use of online multimedia platforms to deliver strong results for our clients and agencies themselves.
An interesting session, from a design perspective, was led by guest speaker Dave Bricker, the creative specialist and lecturer from Miami International University of Art and Design. Bricker gave us some extremely useful advice and illustrations on how to get the best from website design, where he believed “preparing to let your inhibitions down” was key in order to “think, feel and promote.” This session also led us to explore how, as partners of IPREX, we could best leverage the organisation to develop and extend relationships and those vital communication structures.
Listening to the comments of my peers made me see how the IPREX alliance is hugely important for its 68 independent member agencies because it gives us the flexibility to reach national and international markets, from small projects to major global programmes. Kathy Tunheim, the Worldwide President of IPREX summarises it well in her recent article “Connective Tissue for a ‘Glocal’ World”- with today’s more ‘glocal’ world, it’s important to balance the needs for both global and local perspectives. So in this sense IPREX acts as a powerful resource for helping partners to adapt and evolve elements of their communications strategy to meet changing industry demands where they can receive guidance on tactics, key audiences, delivery channels and the different cultures of new markets.
The sessions gave us plenty of food for thought as we brainstormed new ideas on how to build our organisations and keep abreast (or at least try!) of new digital applications. The forum meant we could listen to other professionals about their direct experiences and understand how they dealt with common sector issues as they explained the processes behind their accomplishments or what they learnt from past difficulties they faced. Also, since there was a selection of both financial and consumer-focused PRs there was a diverse range of approaches that different partners used to confront certain issues.
Of course, aside from our productive efforts during the daytime, we were also given a colourful flavour of Miami’s local cuisine by our kind and very informative host, David Stiefel, President of Great Communicators, who took us on a great tour of Coral Gables each evening.
It seems an age away now as I cast back to those few days in sunny Miami, enjoying the warm weather and munching on key lime pie! But overall I’d say it has left me with a far greater understanding of how important the strong connections of our IPREX network are for us here at Abchurch, not only in terms of the application of communication amongst international partners, but also quite simply, the event was a well-organised and structured chance to properly engage with other successful individuals, who more than certainly represent some of our future global PR leaders in the making!
A huge thank you to all those involved in organising such a worthwhile event.