PR plans postponed or cancelled, budgets slashed, physical events reformatted to digital, engagements limited, teams working from home. These are just some of the realities transforming the PR industry today.
With the economy contracting and many businesses facing losses, shifts in priorities have pushed public relations to the back burner. As many PR companies in the country are small local operations, budget concerns resulting from activities being shelved and companies not renewing contracts or deferring PR projects are further tightening purses and pushing future stakes up in the air.
The upcoming 27th National Public Relations Congress will look into the state of the PR industry in the country as it shakes off the effects of the pandemic and gears up for the new year and decade. The annual conference, spearheaded by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP), is going digital for the first time and will run for three days instead of the usual two from February 17 to 19. With its theme of Transcend, the conference hopes to enjoin communication practitioners to contribute to addressing social issues and help with nation-building.
Kicking off the talks on the first day of the Congress is PRSP President Norman Agatep, APR, who will provide a glimpse into how the local PR industry was impacted by the pandemic. He will look into what has changed in the industry since the virus hit, how communication practitioners responded to the effects of the lockdown and related restrictions, and how agencies are getting back on their feet.
Sessions on the state of PR in Asia and the world will follow, to be presided by Prof. May Lwin and Nitin Mantri, respectively. Lwin is chair and professor of Communication at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication & Information and a joint professor at the LKC School of Medicine at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU). She is also the director of NTU’s University Scholars Program. Mantri is the president of the Public Relations Consultants Association of India (PRCAI) and has also been serving as the president of International Communications Consultancy Organization (ICCO), a global provider of forum for the world’s best PR consultancies. The first plenary sessions touching on the local, Asian and global PR sectors hope to provide attendees with a much more accurate picture of present-day industry realities so they can better understand how they fit in the evolving panorama.
PR’s role in the new dynamic will be further examined in the talk by Ron Jabal, APR, CEO of PageOne Group. He will discuss how communication firms and practitioners can evolve their practice to better suit the changing business terrain and how PR narratives can better reflect new priorities.
Rishad Tobaccowala, speaker and author of the best-selling book “Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data,” will open the discussions on the second day with his talk on the shift to digital and how this will define a new era for PR and engagement. Tobaccowala, dubbed by Time magazine as one of five marketing innovators, will share his insights on how PR practitioners can embrace and optimize existing and new technologies to improve the practice and resonate better with different stakeholders.
Arun Sudhaman, CEO and editor-in-chief of PRovoke Media, formerly Holmes Report, will explore ways on how to personalize brand messaging. He will discuss how practitioners can make the most of the multitude of platforms available to reach a wider audience yet ensure targeted communication across the different sectors.
Critical issues shaping today’s narratives will take the spotlight on the last day of the Congress. In line with PRSP’s 2020 theme PR for Good, issues such as mental health, sustainability, equality and inclusivity, and leadership will be discussed, underlining PR’s role in nation building. Jane Fordham, a strategic people consultant with two decades of experience in agencies and the creative industries, will discuss how to ensure mental health in the workplace.