Amelia reports from London

March 2015

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Amelia Haysom attended the annual IPREX Global Leadership Conference, this year in London. She joined 30 young leaders from around the globe to discuss the theme Beyond Silos: Operating and managing in an integrated communication industry.

It’s a chilly 5 degrees Celsius outside, but I’m sitting cozy at a café in Victoria Park, Bethnal Green, London - with a piping hot cup of coffee to help defrost.

I have been staring at my laptop for the past half an hour trying to figure out how I can condense the completely enlightening past three days I’ve just experienced in to one small blog post.

I’ve been over here for the annual IPREX Global Leadership Conference. IPREX is a network of independent PR agencies around the world, which Pead PR is proudly a part of. Annually IPREX holds a conference in a different area of the world, inviting emerging leaders from each agency to attend and discuss a topic of note in the industry - along with tips on how to leverage our beneficial international network.

The focus this year was on breaking down the silos of the communications industry. ‘PR’, ‘Advertising’, ‘Social Media’, ‘Marketing’, ‘ Events’, ‘SEO’ - with the advent of the internet, political changes, technology advancements and more, this segregation of individual fields is becoming outdated. Reputation and brand are intertwining; traditionally separate roles are converging.

The conference highlighted the unavoidable truth that our industry is at a tipping point of huge change. The media landscape is shifting by the day, and there is an urgency to respond to that. It’s time to look differently at how we practice and teach the art of communications and what it will mean to be a PR practitioner in future.

The itinerary took a well-rounded approach as we looked at agency, client and consumer perspective, aided by presentations and case studies from top newspapers and websites, leadership and measurement specialists and fellow delegates –and monitored by IPREX Global President, John Schiebel.

There was much to learn, but for me there were two key points that resonated most strongly.

The first was a resounding comfort in realising that this industry change is a completely global issue. In discussion with delegates from all corners of the world it confirmed that they’re facing the same challenges we are in New Zealand. It gave clarity to the bigger picture – something that can be difficult to see when you’re in the thick of the day-to-day at the office.

The second key take out for me was an empowering presentation by Arun Sudhaman, partner and editor-in-chief at the Homes Report. His piece focused on how to deal with these challenges and look at the simultaneous opportunities that they’ll provide us, if we can focus on tomorrow’s drivers of the industry.

We discussed the need to take a 360 degree approach – integrating a wide range of modern services, channels and techniques in pursuit of client results and agency success. We looked at competition for client respect and budgets against a new set of rivals and the requirement to re-design more efficient agencies in response.

We analysed traditional agency structure alongside the future career path of the individual PR practitioner, highlighting that the current model does not provide enough flexibility to embrace these new skills and services, which we’ll need to provide in order to stay relevant.

I’ll remain here in London for the rest of the week. I’m looking forward to doing some sight-seeing whilst discussing findings from the conference with the fantastic new friends I have made, hailing everywhere from Boston, New York, Colorado, Cincinnati, London, Barcelona, Dussledorf, Sydney and more. It will be a good chance to let the information we’ve all learned really sink in before we each head back to our respective home towns.

I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to represent Pead PR New Zealand at this forward-thinking forum. It’s made me realise what an asset and a privilege it is to be a part of the global IPREX network. It was a complete whirlwind of insightful discussions, case study presentations and making great new friends over beer and ping pong; all while fighting off some horrendous jetlag.

The IPREX GLC 2015 has been an enriching experience that I’ll take away with purpose; the friendships and connections I will cherish forever.