World Public Relations Forum Research Colloquium - Call for Abstracts open

Theme: Communication Without Borders

This year, PRIA will host the 7th World Public Relations Forum in Melbourne from 18 to 20 November.

The forum includes a full-day research colloquium, and two-day conference program. It will bring together thought leaders, industry experts, researchers, educators, and delegates from around the world.

The forum aims to examine, explore and reflect on the impact of globalization on our profession within the context of rapid changes. As global communities merge and media systems converge, the boundaries within which we communicate are blurring and disappearing. The shifts in economic and political power present new challenges and opportunities for public relations and communication practitioners and scholars. Global issues such as climate change, health, food security, poverty reduction and transitioning democracies offer our discipline a much larger template in which to work. Stakeholders and audiences are not easily defined as they become more mobile, more media-savvy and more multicultural. Moreover, audiences are active ‘produsers’ of media messages in a world interconnected by advancing technologies.

It is within this context that we ask how organisations and individual practitioners respond to this new world without borders? How will universities prepare future practitioners for this shifting template? How do we connect and meaningfully engage with cultures that may otherwise be unfamiliar? Will English continue to be the lingua franca of the profession? How will public relations be positioned with advertising, marketing, public diplomacy and strategic communication? To what extent should the practice move from a ‘command and control’ to an ‘inform and influence’ model of communication? Will ethics and corporate social responsibility drive organisations to maintain their social license to operate? What is the role of public relations in society, and in engendering social change?

Academics and practitioners are invited to submit 500-word abstracts that address these questions or others that relate to the main conference theme. There is also an opportunity to submit 1500-word extended abstracts for consideration in published conference proceedings. Also, a special issue of the Asia-Pacific Public Relations Journal will publish selected papers from the colloquium. The Journal of Communication Management will also accept a limited number of papers. An international panel of scholars will review the submissions.

Selected abstracts will be considered for presentation in the research colloquium and the two-day conference. Please indicate if you have a preference.


23 January Submission of abstracts opens
29 February Submission of abstracts closes
15 April Notification of results
31 May Confirmation of acceptance of abstract and conference attendance
30 June Submission of extended abstracts and full papers due

Please submit your abstracts to If you have any queries, please contact Dr Marianne Sison, Chair, Academic Program Committee:


Five key themes to watch this earnings season

Guest blog post: David Loch is the Managing Director of Unicus, a boutique investor and media relations, corporate and transaction communications firm with offices in Melbourne and Perth.
For more information:

Between now and 29 February 2012, a large number of the 2,313 ASX listed companies will be required to report their financial results for the period ended 31 December 2011. This bi-annual reporting window is commonly referred to as the ‘earnings season’.

Corporate communication around results and associated PR is critical as it frames current expectations, shapes future expectations and provides a stepping stone for the remainder of the year and beyond.

This earnings season is expected to be particularly significant for listed companies with a number of key themes reflecting current market conditions including:

  1. Macro Environment – As sentiment turns more circumspect, market participants will increasingly be focussing on the macro environment including what direct and indirect effects this is having on listed companies – be armed with information and position your story to take advantage of this current environment;
  2. Funding & Liquidity – With debt funding margins and costs rising in 2011, corporate CFOs will again be back in the spotlight to communicate their funding and liquidity strategy as global credit markets tighten and bankers pass through cost increases to corporate Australia – be prepared for this including the risk mitigation strategies employed by the company;
  3. Risk Management – In the current environment, the financial community is expected to have a renewed interest around risk management including systems, processes, culture and how risk management supports the corporate strategy – use this as an opportunity to differentiate your organisation and build confidence in the business platform;
  4. Topical Issues – These are numerous although there are common threads to questions likely to be raised. Such topical issues may well include sovereign/political risk, regulatory/legislative change, consumer/business environment, market/economic conditions, skills shortage – prepare for these inevitable questions, have a corporate position and demonstrate thought leadership; and
  5. Strategy – Take the earnings season as an opportunity to focus more of the communications around the company’s strategy and less around historical financial results. Each of the likely issues to arise can be framed in the context of the corporate strategy reinforcing key messages.


Do you have any insights, predictions or tips for the trends coming up in 2012 that you would like to share? Let us know - it could be anything: investor relations; digital strategy; government; corporate social responsibility; and the list goes on. Send us your ideas and your blog posts!

Putting the heart into crisis communication

Guest blog post: Michelle Palmer, Manager Corporate Communications, Powerlink Queensland

The week of 9th January marked the one year anniversary of Queensland’s most severe flooding in 100 years and it will soon be a year on from another of Queensland’s 2011 natural disasters - severe Cyclone Yasi. Yasi crossed the coast south of Innisfail in the early hours of Thursday 3 February 2011. It was said to be the ‘State’s worst cyclone in history,’ with gale force winds of 285km per hour interrupting power supply to over 40,000 customers and causing millions of dollars worth of damage to property and crops.

When I look back on our approach to crisis communication for Yasi (which was recognised through the Golden Target Awards in 2011), along with the approaches we have taken to other major crisis communication situations over the years (also recognised through PRIA awards), I have come to the conclusion that the aspect of ‘heart’ in our approach was what helped us achieve such positive outcomes.

It is a privilege and significant responsibility to have the opportunity to contribute to the recovery efforts of a community following a natural disaster. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate your organisation’s ‘citizenship in action’. Not just through the delivery of a smooth operational and communication response, but through really demonstrating respect, compassion and understanding for the people you are communicating to – putting the ‘heart’ into your response.

By ‘heart’ I mean really connecting with the key stakeholders – the community leaders, emergency services and media outlets – who are at the front line, championing their community’s recovery. To really listen to – and understand how – your organisation can make the most relevant difference to their plight, to make operational decisions based on what you are being told and ensure that stakeholders understand how their input has informed your actions.

After keeping people safe and ensuring they have a place to sleep, returning the supply of electricity to a region is one of the most vital activities in a recovery effort. The technical job of repairing the lines was one that could have been managed from anywhere – but for us, being on the spot and engaging with those affected was vital.

Directly before the cyclone our COO and I travelled to Townsville to wait for the cyclone to pass. This enabled us to be on the ground immediately following the cyclone and able to liaise with front line responders and do things such as work-in with an Army Black Hawk helicopter run to patrol for damage to the transmission network and meet with Mayors of stricken towns in person to understand their most initial and urgent needs.

We put a lot of ‘heart’ into our response through ongoing face-to-face meetings and follow up calls with those Mayors and other key stakeholders to understand their evolving situation, their needs and concerns and, eventually, their successes.

Their feedback genuinely influenced our COO’s operational decisions and shaped how we communicated more broadly. Beyond that, we were also able to add additional value by putting them in touch with people we knew could help with other issues that may not have been directly related to our area of business.

Today there is a lot of talk around ‘genuine’ stakeholder engagement and participation. We are all getting better at doing this as part of ‘business as usual’ – but we also need to remember these concepts during times of crisis.

You can only be in the position to do this through a committed best practice approach to crisis preparedness. Ensuring that relevant operational and communication processes, team structure and supporting resources are well practiced and in sync with priorities frees up the ‘brain space’ in the middle of a crisis go that extra step and put real ‘heart’ into your response.

Hopefully in 2012 we don’t receive a Golden Target Award for crisis response because we are practising our crisis preparedness through exercises and not via the real thing – I think Queenslander’s are ready for a rest from natural disasters.

Moving clients from tactical to strategic is a two-way street

Guest blog: Jeanette Bitz, owner and principal of Engage PR, a public relations firm that sees itself as a communications partner whose role is to ‘raise visibility and build mindshare for clients across all forms of digital media’. First featured on ‘PRWeek’ on December 7, 2011.

It's easy to complain about clients that seem firmly set in tactical mode. We're also all aware of clients who have let an agency go because of its lack of strategic insight or inability to drive a successful PR program.

Clients seek PR support because they have a business challenge or a goal in mind, but it is sometimes presented in tactical terms and short timeframes. For example, the client wants to launch a product next month, secure an industry award, or garner more coverage than competitors. Or the client may just want you to handle media relations and speaking opportunities. As PR counselors, we need to guide their thinking.

These thoughts on thinking strategically and staying on strategy can help to ensure everyone is reading from the same PR plan.

PR professionals should ask questions that will help client executives think in larger terms about overall business and marketing goals.

They should also establish expectations for PR and educate clients on the role PR plays in contributing to sales and business success. Be upfront and honest about what is and is not achievable.

PR practitioners should also be objective, while showing that we understand the client's technology and industry, that we know market conditions and the competitive landscape, and that we can respond creatively to communications opportunities and challenges.

Show we understand how PR fits within the larger marketing mix and amplifies and extends other channels. This is critical to building agency credibility and hence the client's willingness to seek out and accept PR counsel.

PR professionals must also demonstrate a systematic approach to PR planning and goal-setting. Gaining client buy-in to a PR plan that identifies measureable goals and objectives by audience, and that links key strategies and tactics to them, is critical to success.

Another goal should be to maintain the agreed-upon PR plan as a living document, regularly reviewing and updating it according to results-to-date and changing realities.

PR practitioners should also refer to the PR plan to focus both client and agency on what is or is not a strategic use of time or budget. The agency should spend its time on projects of greatest strategic impact, not on seductive but low-value opportunities or standalone tactics.

Ultimately, being a strategic partner in achieving results and managing resources is the best way to ensure that clients also behave strategically.

Converting fans into customers

Guest blog: Mark Cameron, CEO of Working Three, a social media and digital strategy agency that is ‘future focused’. First featured on ‘’ on December 6, 2011.

As 2011 winds down, and before the party season gets underway, it is worth putting time aside to take stock and plan for the the coming months. 2012 will see social media marketing shift gears in a big way. Now is the time to consider how to convert your social media ‘fans’ into customers.

Much has been discussed about return on investment (ROI) in the social media space. Some commentators say ROI needs to focus on areas like brand perception and customer satisfaction – but these are notoriously difficult measure accurately. While I agree that these areas need to be taken into consideration, not having well defined metrics and ignoring conversion goals simply makes no sense. In short, there needs to be clear alignment with the business objectives.

The great thing about social media is it allows you to capture vast quantities of demographic and psychometric data. This data can, and should, be used for targeted messaging. The segments you market to will be fairly broad to start with but will become increasingly granular over time. After testing the waters it will be possible to economically communicate to individuals with tailored messaging – messaging that understands the individual on a personal level.

You don’t always need a ‘hard sell’ approach to move potential customers down a sales conversion path. Sometimes it’s enough to show them that you know and care and are prepared to communicate on a personal level. In this ultra-personalised digital world, your market, particularly the segment that has grown up on the web, now expect everything to be personalised. In fact it is often the only way to get noticed.

A research report published in October this year from the Australian Centre of Retail Studies concluded that the more channels in which a consumer encounters a particular brand, the more likely they are to purchase and the higher their overall spend will be. The lesson here is not rocket science. Once you have used social media to develop your contact list, find out how to communicate with them via email, mobile, social media and your website. Get all the channels working together.

The final step on the conversion journey is the execution. Communicating in a customised way via multiple channels can be expensive if there is not a strong system sitting in the background. What’s more, these interactions in social media mean that you are never sure when someone will take the first step in the conversion cycle. Platforms like ExactTarget allow you to not only automate communications through many different channels, but also provide the necessary tools to refine the sales strategy as additional customer data flows in.

So it is possible to create an effective social media conversion strategy. Just remember to keep things simple and stay focused on what the customer wants.

This week on Broadcast PR: what will the future bring for the PR industry?

This week on Broadcast PR, Jack Herbert, Adviser at CPR Communications and Public Relations joins us for the final time to share his ideas about what the future will bring for the PR industry. In discussing social and political climate’s impact on the Public Relations industry, and explaining what the internet means as a new medium for communication, Jack highlights the potential challenges and opportunities this future will likely bring to practitioners.

Make sure, to tune in next week as we hear from our next industry professional, Nicola Mendleson.

As Jack said, events such as PRIA’s Young Communicators events provide a valuable opportunity to young practitioners to get together and share their thoughts and insights about the Public Relations industry. For more information about any of these upcoming events visit our events page.

Today on Broadcast PR: bridging the gap between people and ideas

This week on Broadcast PR Jack Herbert, Adviser at CPR Communications and Public Relations discusses the challenge practitioners face in trying to combat the public’s negative perception of the industry and prove its worth as a bridge between people and an idea.

Don’t forget to join us next week as Jack Herbert shares his predictions for what the future will bring to the communications and public relations industry.

PRIA to support AMEC Asia Pacific Summit on Measurement

Today we have announced that PRIA will be an active participant in the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication’s (AMEC) first Asia Pacific Summit on Measurement to be held in Hong Kong on the 29th February and 1st March, 2012.

“As a Summit Industry Supporter, PRIA is proud to be part of this new initiative, encouraging us all to take another look at the methods we use to measure the value of public relations performance,” said Jon Bisset, PRIA Chief Executive.

“We are looking forward to not only supporting the Summit, but to also building a lasting relationship with AMEC for the benefit of our members – particularly through active participation in the work of the Asia Pacific Chapter on new measurement guidelines.”

AMEC is the international standards body for communications research and evaluation, which created the Barcelona Principles framework. It has over 100 members in 38 countries, including Australia.

“Australia is looking forward to contributing in the debate at the Summit, and beyond,” Jon continued.

“We hope that PRIA members will take the opportunity to let Summit organisers know who they would like to see on the programme and what they would like to discuss there.”

John Croll, CEO of Media Monitors and the Chair of AMEC’s new Asia Pacific Chapter said he was delighted PRIA was supporting the Summit.

“I know there is real interest in Australia and within the region to embrace new techniques to help PR professionals prove the value of the work they do for corporate clients.”

“We’re encouraging PRIA members to help us shape the Summit by sending us ideas for speaker sessions and hope some members will be in the audience in Hong Kong in February. This is our opportunity in Australia to be a part of global best practice thinking.”

Croll added that AMEC was already committed to working with PRIA to develop new measurement guidelines.

Full details including registration details are available on the Summit website. If you have an idea for a speaker or theme of a presentation please email


Celebrity Endorsement – A New Practitioner’s Event

Guest blog post: Boleyn Iles, intern with PRIA National. Boleyn is a student at the University of Western Sydney, completing a degree in Communications and majoring in Public Relations.

Aim high! This was a notion encouraged by speakers at PRIA’s ‘Celebrity Endorsement’, is it right for your campaign?’ event, held at trendy nightspot ‘Gotham’ in Darlinghurst Tuesday 29th November.

Craig Eardley, public relations consultant for the Greater Business Society learnt the value of aiming high when his campaign was able to secure TV comedy legend Jerry Seinfeld, “You never know what you’re going to achieve unless you ask” said Eardley. There are three do’s and three don’ts of celebrity endorsement that Eardley suggests all PR practitioners follow.

The Do’s: Aim High! Anticipate issues and announce your celebrity acquisition. In announcing Seinfeld, over 2.5 million dollars in free publicity was generated, and that was before any advertisements were released.

The Don’ts: Celebrity slap. Assume that your client or others understand the value of PR. Over promote or over rely on your celebrity.

Anyone remember when Oprah came to town? Well, Karen Eck, Managing Director of eckfactor controlled the publicity for the Queen of Talk, Oprah Winfrey during her Ultimate Australian Adventure in 2010. Eck advised that it’s all about ‘ME…E’, Money, Ego and Effect. It’s important to ask why your celebrity wants to be involved in your campaign, “There are only three reasons why someone would become associated with a brand… is money the motivation?... do [they] really like the brand?... [Or is it that they want to] make an impact?” Eck said.

“Celebrities aren’t always the answer” warns Client Executive at Burson Marstella Charlotte Ferrand. Canadian Clubs “Over Beer?” campaign utilised the drinking habits of one of Australia’s most beloved sportsmen David Boon who successfully generated a great deal of conversation when he was caught drinking Canadian Club Whisky. To effectively administer the campaign Ferrand followed her own set of ‘Takeaways’ (guidelines). These principals include:

1. Knowing your celebrity, know their relationship with the media. How do they perform in front of a camera?
2. Always aim high and look for that big opportunity!
3. Work closely with your client’s other agencies. Really try to involve PR from the beginning.
4. Make sure the celebrity is right for your campaign. There needs to be a reason for the celebrity’s involvement. And remember sometimes, celebrities aren’t always the answer.

How do you manage a celebrity? Marina Paul, Client Manager Executive for IMG Talent Management provided some great insight into the world of a celebrity, and the impact they can have on brand recognition. Of course celebrities can have a positive effect on a campaign, however we need to use them wisely, it’s “not always the obvious associates that are the best”.

On a personal note, the atmosphere was great and the personalities were friendly, making this event a great opportunity to learn, network with likeminded people and have fun at the same time!

Jack Herbert on Broadcast PR: Career Highlights

Today on Broadcast PR Jack Herbert, Adviser at CPR Communications and Public Relations shares the highlights of his career so far, and the rewarding nature of working alongside a range of consultants and using his skills as a PR practitioner to do some social good.

Be sure to join us next week as Jack discusses what he perceives to be the biggest challenge of PR practitioners everywhere.

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