Don’t Panic Ensures PR Professionals are Thinking

Last Thursday (12/05/11) Manchester based events management agency Don’t Panic took over the beautiful venue of the British Library for the first ever Think event.  Bringing together sector leaders that were chosen by industry practitioners (through conversations with friends and questions posed through Quora and LinkedIn) they were given free reign to talk about a topic they found interesting.

The industry leaders included:

Martin Thomas (@crowdsurfing)

Mark Borkowski (@MarkBorkowski)
Julia Hobsbawn (@juliahobsbawm)
Rob Brown (@robbrown)
Alex Aiken
Hugh Davies
Dominc Burch (@dom_asdaPR)
Tim Johns (@oratotim)
Robert Phillips (@citizenrobert)
Colin Byrne (@capbyrn)
Sally Costerton (@sallycosterton)
Drew Benvie (@drewb)

With conversations taking on everything from social media, Public Sector PR to a topic which I normally find thoroughly dreary – gender in PR; however Sally Costerton to her credit made this topic entertaining and enlightening. So we’ve put together this blog to let you share in some of the insight and topics that are important to the PR world as discussed at Think 11.

We’ll start with something close to the heart of this agency, social media and two talks, the first entitled Twitter vs PR: Nail in the Coffin or Silver Bullet? Delivered by Drew Benvie, it explored the impact of Twitter upon the Public Relations industry, one that has been ever changing since it first began in the 1920s. This topic might sound a little scary considering it was being delivered to a room full of PR practitioners but ultimately the final thought of this topic was a positive one. Yes, Twitter and other social media has and is changing the practice of Public Relations but the key to this change is for practitioners to be actively engaged in social media rather than relying on tools to deliver them information.

The second social media talk was delivered by Rob Brown and called Social Media: The Industry’s Carpe Diem Moment. Now I’ll be honest I’m always inclined to find a little use of Latin interesting – blame the history degree. Anyway Rob raised a number of key points that were built on by Drew later in the day. The most important one may have been that Social media now provides all communications professionals with something they have always wanted; to be able to actively engage in a conversation with consumers allowing them to report problems but also to heap praise and commendation on brands. Ultimately however Rob and Drew emphasised the fact that social media can’t and doesn’t replace all traditional channels, it simply supplements them.

Lastly, a few more word’s on Sally Costerton’s presentation –  Exploding the Myth of the Glass Ceiling, as already mentioned I winced when I read the topic choice for a number of reasons:
1) It’s a topic I’ve never really been able to get my teeth stuck in to
2) Well see number 1. Oh and I’m a man so it doesn’t necessarily always feel relevant or engaging.

However, Sally’s approach of, as she put it, ‘breaking the secret female covenant’ was to my ears at least a fresh take on the topic. No more was it merely a case of ‘men are just sexist’ etc. Topics such as the social taboo of being a house husband and the almost self sabotaging nature of some women were interesting points raised by a woman who is very much tackling the issues head on.

Overall, it was a thoroughly interesting day with a diverse range of practitioners from all aspects of the profession -agencies, client side and the public sector. However the most important thing I feel I should say in this blog is a big thank you, to Nicky Wake and her team at Don’t Panic (hyperlink) who once again put on an event that was informative, enlightening, fun and had great food!