We believe that with globalization, being part of a global network is essential for forward thinking public relations specialists; we believe practitioners don’t have the luxury of simply ‘doing our thing down here in Australia’.

Last weekend IPREX, a global public relations network with 70 partners, held an event in Sydney, hosted by the Wilkinson Group. Partners, from Malaysia, India, China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, the US and England, flew in and took part in an information exchange.

Why do we get together, instead of just communicating by Facebook?

First, we had face time with several important speakers:

  • From Cisco, Jeanette Gibson who co-leads the Social Media Advisory Council to help guide Cisco’s company-wide social media strategy.  Jeanette warned that Cisco research indicated that the big advances in social media impacting every communicator would be with blogs and video streaming. She also advised that Cisco is putting effort into a number of initiatives including transferring into the business world techniques learnt in games to engage audiences, such as rewarding people with points and prizes for participating.
  • Ken Makovsky, president of New York’s Makovsky + Company, one of the US’ largest independent public relations firms. This year the company won four Gold Bulldog Stars of PR Awards: the  “Midsize Agency of the Year;” Ken won the Grand Prize of “Communications Professional of the Year,” along with “PR Agency Professional of the Year” and “PR Blogger of the Year.”  Don’t you hate it! Chief Executive Magazine also named Ken on its list of the “Top 10 CEO Blogs” (alongside global media giant Thomson Reuters, international cruise line Royal Caribbean and Saatchi & Saatchi).
  • Paul Colgan, editor of www.news.com.au who gave us some ‘inside’ knowledge on how the online papers now measure their audiences’ likes and dislikes. It was a reminder of the importance of ‘listening’ to what the audience wants and responding.
  • Mike Andrew is one of Australia’s leading SEO experts and demonstrated how to make a website/blogsite effective.
  • Adam Kilgour described how to set up a company for optimum performance by describing how he measured the 24 companies on 4 continents that he helped purchase and run as MD of Photon.

Second, many of our clients are expanding and looking at establishing themselves in foreign markets. Knowing partners well is, we believe, integral to offering trusted options on overseas markets. For instance, IPREX global president Kathy Tunheim, based in Minneapolis, mentioned 60% of her business comes from the IPREX network providing her clients with services in overseas markets.

Third, it’s an opportunity to share problems with other CEOs, which we simply can’t do with competitors in the same marketplace: how to deal with frozen budgets; charging for social media work; teaching staff how to read a P&L and the importance of retaining senior staff.

Overall, these sorts of discussion sessions proved invaluable to each partner because it gave us all an opportunity to share and develop new skills, methods of best practice which ultimately provide a better service to our clients.

So, sure, we can learn a lot on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and as a member of the PRIA – they all have an important role. But for us nothing beats to opportunity to form close alliances with colleagues, and share and collaborate in the way we did this past weekend in Sydney.

The author, Cameron Blair, is the Regional Director for the Asia-Pacific region and is a full-time employee of Wilkinson Group

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