'We live in uncertain times, and we have to start getting used to it' – exploring the digital future at #CIPRConf19

A sell-out crowd of over 200 public relations and business professionals gathered at the British Library in London yesterday for the 2019 CIPR National Conference.

The Conference – ‘Preparing for the Digital Future’ was chaired by Rachel Royall Chart.PR MCIPR and explored the opportunities and challenges faced by PR professionals in the face of rapid technological advances.

One of those challenges was addressed head on by Joanna Blackburn, Communications and Engagement Lead at Government Digital Services who, in her talk on leadership in a digital age, called on the profession to be increasingly brave in our work and to stay ahead of the curve when adopting new technologies - “digital transformation means the work is never done.” One challenge that can’t be avoided is uncertainty – something CIPD CEO, Peter Cheese, believes “we have to start getting used to.” Organisations should concentrate on their own reputation and can build trust by focusing on their employees first.

This was echoed by Lansons CEO, Tony Langham, who sees reputation management as the future of corporate communications and public relations. He called on PR to concentrate on advising clients and organisations on their behaviour and what they do, not just what they communicate. Quoting Stephen R. Covey he warned “you can’t talk your way out of a problem you behaved your way into.”

A captivating talk by researcher and broadcaster, Dr Stephanie Hare, tackled the question of ethics and how bias in data results in technology that is “not neutral.” This timely theme was addressed further by Polly Mackenzie, Demos CEO, in her discussion on the impact of technology in our democratic process in creating a set of tools which “algorithmically set us apart.”

Ending on a more positive note, Dr Lawrence Ampofo, Founder of Digital Mindfulness, points to the development of new technologies which don’t “cannibalise our attention” but are more meaningful and intelligent, designed to genuinely improve the quality of our lives.

CIPR President, Emma Leech Found.Chart.PR FCIPR
Firstly, a huge thank you all our attendees, sponsors and the CIPR team for contributing to, and delivering, an excellent National Conference. I'd particularly like to thank our sensational speakers for their engaging and thought-provoking presentations and Rachel Royall for chairing the event.

As Rachel concluded, this isn’t all about preparation – these issues are affecting our lives and our work now. PR professionals have a responsibility to understand the technologies we adopt, to consider the ethical implications of how they are used and to adapt, where necessary, to add value in building trust and relationships for our organisations and clients.
CIPR President, Emma Leech Found.Chart.PR FCIPR
Genesis Galvez, Agency Relationship Manager, Signal AI
It was our pleasure to be the Headline Sponsor of the CIPR National Conference this year. The theme of the day, coupled with the range of speakers and subjects covered - not to mention the engaged audience - made for a brilliant day. Thank you to all those involved in the organisation and those who stopped by our stand. One message came through loud and clear throughout the day - the pace of technological change is changing the nature of PR. We look forward to continuing our work with CIPR and helping members prepare for the digital future.
Genesis Galvez, Agency Relationship Manager, Signal AI

Watch our ‘behind the scene’ videos with our Conference speakers now.

Check out #CIPRConf19 highlights on Twitter.

Keep an eye (and ear) out for our exclusive podcasts of presentations from the day.


About the Chartered Institute of Public Relations

Founded in 1948, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is the Royal Chartered professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK and overseas. The CIPR is by far the biggest member organisation for PR practitioners outside of North America. By size of turnover and number of individually registered members, we are the leading representative body for the PR profession and industry in Europe.

The CIPR advances professionalism in public relations by making its members accountable to their employers and the public through a code of conduct and searchable public register, setting standards through training, qualifications, awards and the production of best practice and skills guidance, facilitating Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and awarding Chartered Public Relations Practitioner status (Chart.PR).