Yesterday’s IPRA CEE Conference presented the Bulgarian audience with the great opportunity to interact with a number of PR and Communications professionals who delivered a well targeted, engaging and thoroughly interesting set of presentations.
Alastair Campbell, Director of Communications and Strategy for Prime Minister Tony Blair between 1997 and 2003, opened the discussion with a presentation that more or less encompassed the main focus of the whole event: The Power of communications in a world of change. Companies and governments have to face the major transition from top-down communication in the past to the active social media landscape of interactions today. As Mr. Campbell put it: “news and comments, facts and opinions merge”. Thus, it is of grave importance to know how to influence opinions and communicate your ideas about your brand or country’s image in a way that is recognizable, influential and authentic. In this new environment, you cannot neglect people’s opinion, especially if it is negative – quick and adequate reactions can not only resolve problems but also win advocates among your customers (or in Alastair and Toni Blair’s case: voters).
The most important currency you have is Reputation and the best way to achieve your goals is the OST mindset: choose your Objective, define your Strategy and then focus on Tactics. Keep going, be consistent, persuasive and be prepared to work over a long time span: reputation building takes time.
The presentations which followed after this englightening opening speech all elaborated on the major changes in the PR landscape. Christophe Ginisty (the current IPRA President) talked about Public Relations in Transition and the shift in the very definition of what Public Relations is. Scott Neuman from IBM then continued the story with his tale of the rising influence of the Customer: as he said “The megaphone shifted from corporate hands to those of the consumer”. In other words: now people are the ones doing the talking and smart companies have to listen.
P&G, Unicef, Oreo’s, Amstel: these are only a few of the case studies presented at the conference which showed best practices on how companies should deal with user feedback, focus on regional differences among consumers (as in Ecaterina Sararica‘s presentation Communications without borders. Developing and delivering successful regional communication campaigns) and even turn deffects into effects like Amstel Light which turned from underdog beer brand into the name on everybody’s tongue with the campaign Who ordered the Amstel Light?
One of the best features of the conference was how closely tied in and up to the point all presentations were. With that in mind, Perceptica’s participation in the event with the presentation From insights to innovation in communications by our very own Martin Miliev came as a recap of all previous topics with a practical twist on how this vast amount of user conversations can be monitored and analysed. And most important of all: how the insights that come up in the process can be used for the improvement of products and services and for the sake of long term strategy and innovation.
We are now even more inspired to go on with our work on Social Media and look forward to more stimulating discussions and excellently organized events like IPRA 2013.
Martin Miliev, Project Manager, Perceptica Media Analytics