Perception vs Reality: Jim Macnamara, Dan Chamberlain and Margaret Stuart join PRIA National Conference

Wed, Sep 26 2018

Is perception reality? In public relations, we rely on perception to build credibility and contribute to overall reputation management, but is perception everything?

As public relations practitioners, how do we manage perception in a world where ‘fake news’ and ‘spin’ are prominen? What is the role of social media in communication and reputation, and can we succeed by being transparent and honest above all else?

Perhaps the old saying, ‘honesty is the best policy’ is the key to effective communication in our digital age. But how can public relations practitioners tackle the task of making perception and reality align - where talk and action run parallel? It is a big task with many factors in play.

We’ll be exploring these questions during an expert panel discussion, ‘Is Perception Everything; How to Tackle Complex Issues with Honesty and Transparency’, at the 2018 PRIA National Conference at the Four Seasons Hotel on Wednesday 31 October.

This conference allows public relations practitioners insight to the ever-changing landscape of media and communication. This year we are exploring honest, ethical and transparent approaches to communication under the banner, ‘The Authentic Communicator’.

A variety of topics will be covered including ‘Communicating authentically when under the world’s gaze’, ‘The rise and fall and rise of Influencers’, ‘Community Engagement’, ‘How can we earn trust through communications when consumers have lost faith in banks?’, ‘The new frontier – creating employees as advocates’, ‘Content strategies for the new media environment’ as well as, ‘Is perception everything?’.

The Perception vs Reality session will delve into the impacts of perceptions and reality in effective communication and reputation management. The 45-minute panel session will be facilitated by Distinguished Professor of Public Communication at the University of Technology Sydney, Jim Macnamara (PhD, FAMI, CPM, FPRIA, FAMEC). Macnamara is internationally recognised for his research on the evaluation of public communication and organisational listening. He is also a visiting Professor at London School of Economics and Political Sciences (Media and Communications Department), the University of the Arts London (College of Communication), and an author of 16 books including, ‘The 21st Century Media (R)evolution: Emergent Communication Practices’, ; ‘Organizational Listening: The Missing Essential in Public Communication’; and the recent release of ‘Evaluating Public Communication: Exploring New Models, Standards, and Best Practice’.

Macnamara will be joined by panellists including the Executive Manager of Strategic Communications at NBN Co., Dan Chamberlain, and the Head of Corporate and External Relations for Nestle Oceania, Margaret Stuart, to answer all of these burning questions and help public relations practitioners manoeuvre through the landscape.

Dan Chamberlain has an extensive background as a communications leader with more than a decade working in the industry across a variety of roles. A journalist, an agency consultant and an in-house practitioner, Chamberlain has experience in the media world from both sides of the fence. Further, Chamberlain specialises in making complex information relevant and comprehensive to a wide range of audiences.

Dan’s experience in both the public and private sector includes working for CSIRO, Vodafone, Samsung and and now directs NBN’s strategic communications team. He leads the development and execution of a national integrated communications program aimed at informing Australian residents about the company’s progress, explaining the purpose of the NBN, what it is, how it works and the benefits. He will contribute to the panel discussion by offering his experience in navigating transparency in information dissemination.

Complementing Chamberlain’s knowledge and company’s experience is Margaret Stuart, Head of Corporate Relations for Nestle Oceania. Stuart is responsible for communications and public affairs across Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and the Pacific where she manages issues affecting operations of the company in areas such as nutrition, human rights, environmental sustainability, water and rural development.

Stuart’s expertise in corporate affairs spans both in-house and consulting, in the healthcare, food and agribusiness sectors, and she has had senior roles in Novartis, Syngenta and Schering-Plough.

Together Chamberlain and Stuart will provide insights  on the role of perception in the public relations world. The duo will be joined by another reputable industry leader yet to be announced.

This panel is not to be missed! With so much talent on the one stage, priceless knowledge and real examples of how to implement systems for transparent and honest two-way communication between organisation and public, ‘Is Perception Everything; How to Tackle Complex Issues with Honesty and Transparency’ is set to be a highly informative, thought-provoking experience.

Tickets to the PRIA National Conference are still available. Book now at

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