"Quo Vadis" from our immediate past president, Mike Watson FPRIA

Fri, Jan 29 2016

Ahead of PRIA’s 12 February Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM), to formally elect its next president and deputy, I’m transitioning into the institute’s first immediate past president since 2013, in readiness for 2016 and beyond.

With the joy and success of PRIA’s huge transformations conference at Hobart’s Constitution Dock still rippling, there’s an always popular Perth national conference just over nine months away, when I’ll also make the journey to Margaret River.

With former PRIA Victorian President, Jack Walden FPRIA, during the Fellows Annual Dinner in Brisbane in 2014. 

Meanwhile, I’m participating in PRIA's reinvigorated whole of organisation approach to skilling-up the newcomers joining our broad-community, plus those keeping communicatively relevant. Even when we think we know everything, it turns out that life-long learning is a proven paradigm for staying alive.   


With Katharina Wolf FPRIA, Acting Chairperson, PRIA Education Community Committee at the Annual Fellows Dinner at the 2015 PRIA National Conference in Hobart, Tasmania.

After lots of talented people’s time and consultation using smart resources, we’ll announce a dynamic professional development program aimed at nurturing and sustaining skills for those witnessing our industry grow into hitherto unforeseen dimensions.

Opening address at the 2015 PRIA National Conference, Hobart.

This whole of organisation approach or community comes from chronic contributions by PRIA volunteers and committees (open to all members) in every state and territory of the nation. No other professional communication organisation in Australia offers such scope and meritocracy.

Communication excellence embraces requisite variety. PRIA welcomes fresh volunteers and this year we’re aiming to boost representation from the corporate sector, the three tiers of government, plus not-for-profit, by providing pertinent programs, and presence on PRIA's National Board.

Although argued for ages, perhaps “public relations” and “PR” are anachronistic terms? Specialists in allied industries, i.e. graphic designers, software engineers, data-base developers and analysts, advertisers, media, publishers, photographers, journos, marketers, may also be attracted to join an institute of communicators.

Another activity I’m looking forward to participating in this year is PRIAs annual Women in PR premier event, for which planning is at an advanced stage.

Something else I’ll be doing and would love to see emulated in all states and territories is Victoria’s annual PR student and industry forum. In its sixth year, this all-day (and late-night social finish) event is an ecumenical gathering of practitioners with students enrolled in university public relations degrees.

On route to the Annual Fellows Dinner with John Croll, CEO, Isentia, with Jeffrey Naqvi FPRIA and Tom Parkes LFPRIA deep in conversation. 

My once-in-a-lifetime presidential privilege relied on an ensemble of colleagues with apologies to those not named: beloved Board members especially Arthur Delbridge AM, Paul Rushton, and Annabelle Warren; College of Fellows Council including Tom Parkes, Marjorie Anderson AM, Haydn Park and Tony Harrison; Professors Jim Macnamara and David Potts OAM, Peter Lazar AM, Maxine Goulding OA, Life Fellows Sheila O’Sullivan, Geoff Holden, Rob Masters, Tony Jaques, and VIC Councillors. Finally, family, fiancé Cath, supportive Swinburne, PRIA sponsors, and national office led by Graham LeRoux for service to members and professionalism, thank you kindly.

PRIA National Board Meeting at the 2015 National Conference in Hobart, Tasmania. Back row from left to right: Arthur E Delbridge AM LFPRIA, Dr. Katharina Wolf FPRIA, Jacquie Ray MPRIA, Marie Howarth FPRIA, Jeannette Button FPRIA, Isabella Lipinski MPRIA, Annabelle Warren FPRIA. Front row from left to right: Graham Le Roux CEO, Alain Grossbard FPRIA, Mike Watson FPRIA, and Renae Desai MPRIA. Missing from the photo: Paul Rushton-Clarke MPRIA, John Vineburg FPRIA, and Cait Tynan MPRIA. 

Warm regards,

Mike Watson FPRIA

Immediate Past President, Public Relations Institute of Australia