Let the paradigm shift begin

Anne Gregory, Professor and Director of the Centre for Public Relations Studies at Leeds Metropolitan University and Ronél Rensburg, President-elect of PRISA and Professor in the Department of Marketing and Communication Management at the University of Pretoria, write the following about their session at the World PR Forum:

Ronel Rensburg“In our session at the WPRF, titled ‘New world, new challenges: what and how will communication professionals contribute to sustainability?’ we will attempt (by acting as provocateurs and idea midwives) to stimulate new thinking and lively discussion on the place and space of professional communicators in the “brave new world” of tomorrow.

The global environment as we know it is changing rapidly and governments, business and citizens must seek innovative ways to deal with the issues this generates, as well as with the sustainability of business, of organisations and of the physical world itself. The “one world, people and planet” imperative, with its focus on interdependence amongst all people, forces a consideration of the radical changes needed for the future. Documents such as Vision 2050 demand different approaches from business leaders, requiring them to rethink how they should develop and operate for a more sustainable future. This will mean challenges and a new agenda for governments, business and other organisations. The vision for the world on a sustainable pathway by 2050 will require fundamental changes in governance structures, economic frameworks, business, organisations and human behaviour.

Anne GregoryPartnerships and strategic coalitions with all stakeholders will be more complex, but enabled and made more effective through developments in the way that people, governments and business use information and communication technology to connect. The use of social media and networks and improved communication technology will continue to increase the speed and scale of information exchange and will play a significant role in effecting organisational development, sustainability and accountability. Vast opportunities lie both in the unmet demand for basic communication infrastructures, as well as in innovative new platforms for improved interaction amongst stakeholders. This increased interaction across borders and cultures will speed up the dissemination of ideas and opportunities. Stakeholders will be enabled and more empowered to communicate their interests, concerns and expectations to organisations that operate in their social, economic, physical and political environments.

This new world with its novel ways of doing business will have to tap into the creativity and innovation of all stakeholders, using them as resource, but also recognising their increased accountabilities. Communication, communication management and the activities of public relations and communication professionals will be essential in facilitating the links between stakeholders and partners, building and maintaining reputations and relationships, as well as co-creating value in an interconnected world.

We will gather in Stockholm for the World PR Forum to find the next frontier in the practice and academic discipline of public relations and communication management by examining and ratifying the Stockholm Accords. In our session we aim to provide a platform for vigorous debate on how to fill the gap between public relations and communication as usual, to public relations and communication management as exceptional stakeholder engagement.

As an outcome of our session we will also seek to provoke ideas and suggestions on the ‘Stockholm Accords’ themes of Governance and Management. The global and national issues mentioned above will impact on public relations and communication professionals over the next few years and we will consider the implications for organisations, on the capabilities of communication professionals and on their roles in the future business environment. It will be an interactive session in which ideas on these issues will be shared and lively debate ensue – all for the development and sustainability of the discipline and practice of public relations and communication management. We invite you to become part of the change and substance we want to see in the future for our profession.

Let the paradigm shift begin….”