PRFest kicks off in less than two weeks. Here’s why you should consider attending.

At the start of PRFest in 2016, *very* senior practitioners attended, learning from other prominent industry leaders. Over the years I’ve seen a decline in the level of seniority, and I had to ask myself why that was, to understand how the community was evolving.

The loyal PRFest attendees who not only come to the event every year, but support online discussion and really believe in professional development, are my kind of people. They are senior in their years, their level of experience and in what they do, they are well respected, but they aren’t big chiefs of big worldwide agencies. And they don’t have to be, either. I chose not to be. It’s not my kind of thing…

PR learning and priorities for the industry

Growing teams and learning trends

I’ve had numerous conversations over the past year about how people learn and how they are growing teams, and both are inter-linked.

When we talk about growing our teams and empowering them, letting them use their specialist skills, to some, it means relinquishing the responsibility of learning that skill themselves, or even learning about it. No-one says you have to be amazing at everything, (here comes the conversation about being a generalist or a specialist), but if you’re the leader and you are directing your team, your client’s strategies, your own business, then you absolutely have to understand how things work, how long it takes, what is involved and how it impacts other elements of your work.

Walk the walk

In my opinion, it does not mean senior practitioners should be any less skilled. In fact, if they are to lead teams, they need to demonstrate they know what they are talking about. It’s like when I used to be a Restaurant Manager and I said to my front of house team, “I won’t ask you to do anything I’ve not done before, myself, or I can’t still do”. The example I was referring to was when I had to put a black bag over my arm and unblock a toilet…

One specific thing came to mind. Before PRFest ticket sales end, I have been working with Attacat (Tim and Flora are leading the digital ad workshop on Thursday, 13th), to develop a PRFest digital ad campaign. I’ll be honest. I know Facebook ads well, I know Google ads well, but when it comes to using pixels and integrating them in the website, that’s where my brain stops working. I’ve not pushed myself to learn all that. So when I started working with Attacat, I quickly realised why there were specialists in this area. Whilst I can handle what I’d describe as basic online ad campaigns, I don’t fully know how to integrate every element, which is important for tracking, monitoring and evaluation – not just the data at the end.

Lack of willingness to learn?

It got me thinking that there must be a certain lack of willingness to learn things like this, when you know you’ve got someone/people in your team who can do it for you, but I’d argue that you still need to know the detail.

The same for the ‘negative SEO’ workshop with Andy Barr, ’embracing AI’ with Kerry Sheehan and the ‘ethical end-to-end process of influencer marketing’ workshop, with Anne-Marie Lacey and Deb Sharratt. You may not be delivering all of this yourself, but if you’re client facing, developing strategies and leading people, then you do need to know. It reminds me of a time when a former colleague started to talk to a client about social media, when it was just becoming something we started to integrate in our work, it made me cringe as there were words coming out, but none of it made sense as she had no clue how it worked.

PRFest is a chilled event and a good environment for conversation

PRFest is a relaxed event, people can come and go making/taking calls, dealing with a crisis, or whatever they need to do. Tea/coffee is served all day. There is loads of breakout space. I’d urge you to consider buying your ticket, while you can (sales end on 7 June), and make a point of knowing the ins and outs of what your team do, or even potentially spot learning opportunities for your team.

This year, PRFest also launches its own merchandise! I’ll be giving some away to start with, to get some feedback, but I’ve got PRFest thermal coffee travel mugs being delivered! They look great! I’ll be selling them at the event for those who haven’t brought their own. I’m trying to find ways of cutting out the number of items being binned or recycled, and coffee mugs was a good place to start!

Got any questions? Give me a shout. I’d be happy to talk to you. Failing that, see you at PRFest in two weeks!