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FutureComms16: Tackling Digital Challenges, Diversity & Influencer Relations

Blog post   •   May 06, 2016 07:56 BST

The future of comms isn't decided by one CMO and it wasn't planned in yet ANOTHER meeting spent slurping-up coffee and flicking through flip-charts. No. The future of comms is ever evolving, and who's making it happen? It's you. 

And that's what FutureComms16 is about. It's a forward-thinking conference, bringing together some of the industry's brightest minds to discuss the challenges and opportunities we all face. It’s about blending creativity and experiences to hash out ideas around successful engagement, monetising methods, and working as a collective to make sure both your brands and your audiences are getting what they need. It's about us all looking and stepping into the future of comms.

FutureComms16 is the third event of its kind and this year it's set to be even bigger and even smarter. So what should you expect from this gathering of over 200 PR, comms and brand managers on June 15th at BAFTA, London? Well here are the main areas up for some serious exploration...

Digital PR challenges

As comms professionals in 2016, there’s a heck of a lot we need to master; from content creation to monetising our PR efforts, and measuring our work to actively seeking and engaging with influencers. But we’re only human and our time is precious - so where should our focuses lay and how should we be undertaking these tasks in the most efficient way?

Sharon Flaherty, Founder of BrandContent and former Head of PR and Social at MoneySuperMarket, will be sharing her digital PR challenges, opportunities and experiences which would could all learn from and put into practice in our own communications efforts.

Influencer relations

PRs and advocates have a pivotal relationship but it needs to benefit both parties.

In a world where bloggers are an authoritative yet authentic tool (81% of the online population interviewed said they trusted advice or suggestions from a blogger? And 61% then went on to purchase a specific product based on a recommendation), people don’t want to be told how great something is from the mouths of the brand itself. They need more than that in order to build trust.

Chaired by Sharon Flaherty, “How To Work With Influencers” will give a blogger, an author, a journalist and a comms person their chance to air their frustrations and good experiences, and get to the root of how’s best to work with them. How do they like to be approached? What makes them want to represent and endorse your brand? And where can you find them?

Gender diversity in our industry

PR roles are dominated by women, so why is it that the majority of the industry's leaders are males? And the gender balance isn’t fairly being represented at speaking events? But everyone in the profession has a responsibility for change.

Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ campaign has been praised for empowering more women to participate in sport, but research conducted into social media users’ responses suggest the impact was limited. Laura Richards, Marketing & PR Manager at Northstar Ventures UK, will be discussing her findings and raising all-important questions about the role PR has to play in improving diversity in the industries we work in.

Emotional connections with audiences

In this digital age, where advertisements and advertising spaces are aplenty, brands need to get smarter with their messaging - they need to connect with audiences on an emotional level. But doing that doesn’t just mean churning out another heartstring-tugging video. No. Emotional connections requires brands to listen; what are their customers and prospects passionate about? What do they need? How old are they? What can they relate to? And in listening and learning, brands can then create content that resonates with their desired audiences.

Using Travelzoo campaigns as examples, Louise Hodges will be talking about her best practices in how to connect with audiences whilst retaining credibility and authenticity with media.

The traditional vs the reality

A BA (Hons) in Public Relations. A lot is taught in those three years at university, but how much of that education and harboured knowledge is practical and relevant in the real world of PR? Is a degree in the PR field even necessary? And is what's being taught a true reflection of the industry? 

Jessica Becker of Manifest London will be speaking to young PRs about their perceptions of the industry vs what they expected upon graduating, as well as their predictions for the future of comms.

All in all, there's going to be a lot of food for thought - oh, and actual food! Your full day ticket includes copious teas and coffees to keep you on the ball, a scrumptious lunch and popcorn in the interval. Nice! Plus, you're also invited to join us in the evening at a nearby venue yet TBC for evening drinks, nibbles and networking.

FutureComms16 takes place at BAFTA, London on Wednesday 15th June. Tickets are £295 (+VAT). We look forward to seeing you there!

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