More than 400 delegates, 30+ local and international speakers, 11 plenary sessions, 12 breakout sessions, 27 corporate sponsors and 21 media partners. These numbers summarize the recently concluded 26th National Public Relations Congress.
The two-day annual conference, which ran on September 24 and 25 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, had the theme Amplify and gathered together not just PR and communication practitioners but also participants from other industries, government agencies, startup organizations, members of the academe and students. Besides being in a new venue, the congress marks the first time it opened itself to a bigger and more diverse audience in line with the goal of broadening its reach even outside the PR community.
“This year’s theme—AMPLIFY—challenges PR and communication practitioners to dive into introspection and assess PR practice in the Philippines. It calls us to understand where we are and where we should go next. AMPLIFY calls us to brave unchartered and highly charged communication issues that not only challenge communicators but also influence the society we live in,” said Ana Pista, vice-president external for the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP) and chair of this year’s congress.
The 2019 congress had the most number of foreign speakers to date, in support of the congress goal of recalibrating PR practice in the Philippines against global and regional trend. Breakout sessions complemented plenary talks and let delegates choose the topics they find most relevant to them. Topics such as brand activism, how to win the war on stories, social impact communication, influencer marketing and thought leadership were instant favorites.
Pista, who is also president of Ardent Communications, Inc., the organizing agency for the 26th congress, further shared: “By talking about us, our profession and industry issues, we hope to make our industry significant once more. This is also why we’re launching during the congress the roadmap initiative, a five-year program aimed at taking the industry further.”
PRSP, the premier organization for PR and communication professionals in the country, looks to supplement the learning opportunities at the congress with sustained professional development seminars for both seasoned and budding practitioners.
“We have signed an agreement with the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication to offer a master’s degree in Communication major in public relations and corporate communications, which we target to open this November,” said Andy Saracho, APR and PRSP president.
Ely Estoque, project lead for the 26th PR Congress and brand strategist at Ardent Communications, said: “We hope that by gathering under one roof local and international thought leaders and having them share their insights with the delegates in a more engaging way would further encourage a culture of learning and sharing of expertise in the PR industry.”
“Opening the congress to a wider and more diverse audience has allowed us to amplify the discussion of issues and bring that to a wider public consciousness, which hopefully will lead to discussions of how we can take the industry forward. By acknowledging how issues of inclusivity, authenticity and other sociopolitical themes influence PR and communication at present, we anchor ourselves on current realities and are more able to gear up for what’s ahead,” said Len Sangalang Tayco, communications director for the congress and for Ardent Communications.