Until relatively recently business leaders tended to see public relations as the area which occupied itself largely with publicity stunts, press conferences and the like. Over the last decade, however, thinking has changed markedly: the new view is that communications is moving towards the centre of business strategy and that public perception of the corporate brand and the development and safeguarding of reputation have become essential.
These themes are at the heart of this year's Hard Commercial Edge of PR conference, jointly sponsored by Management Today and its sister titles, PR Week and Marketing. Now in its fifth year, the conference will be held at the Church House Conference Centre in London on 24 and 25 July. Two full conferences, one concentrating on Marketing Communications and the other on Public Affairs and Financial Public Relations, will run simultaneously on the first day, chaired respectively by Alison Canning, managing director of First & 42nd, and Kevin Murray, director of communications, British Airways. Delegates will be able to pick and choose from both conferences to create their own bespoke programme.
On day one, Canning, as overall chair, will also preside over three plenary sessions, the first of which is a keynote address by Sir Colin Marshall, chairman of British Airways and Inchcape. His speech will focus on the growth of communications as a strategic discipline. The second plenary session comes from Ian Ryder of Hewlett-Packard, on how the corporate brand has become the driver of all corporate activities. There will also be contributions on the impact of technology (Hugo Drayton of Electronic Telegraph), on media fragmentation, crisis management, dealing with pressure groups, evaluation and reputation management.
All delegates will also have the option of attending a series of four PR workshops on 25 July. Designed to provide in-depth, practical advice in an interactive format, these will cover areas such as the client/ agency relationship, managing your relationship with the press and internal communications. The workshops will be chaired by Stephen Farish, editor of PR Week, and will feature experts including Roy Greenslade, media commentator on the Guardian, and David Lake, managing director of Countrywide Porter Novelli.
Both the conferences and workshops should be of particular interest to communications professionals and senior management as PR grows ever more sophisticated and becomes a central rather than peripheral business function. Delegates can take advantage of discounts for groups, early booking and for attending both days.
For further information and to reserve your place, call Tania Cassell on 0171 423 4116 or fax 0171 413 4486.