Why PR conferences are important to the industry

PR conferences, events and festivals are important to the PR industry because they allow practitioners, academics and suppliers to the industry to meet in one place and have discussions, debates and share best practice on the same platform.


PRFest 1 SAKey PR conferences include:

#PRFest – the world’s first PR festival, Edinburgh – 15-16 June 2017

AMEC’s Global Summit – Bangkok 17-18 May 2017

World PR Forum – last event was May 2016, Toronto. 2017 to be confirmed

Global PR Summit – Miami, 23-25 October 2017 (by the Holmes Report)

ICCO Global Summit – last event was 29-30 September, Oxford. 2017 to be confirmed.


The one thing these PR conferences and events have in common is the desire to help the PR industry.

So how can PR conferences, or industry-wide events help?

  1. By bringing everyone together in one place, conferences, summits, festivals and other big events encourage a diverse and cognitive discussion and allows for opinions to be laid on the table.
  2. By sharing experiences, opinions, best practice and innovative thinking around progression, it can only be a good thing for PR – I previously wrote a blog post about why Sharing is Caring, have a read.
  3. Radical thinking isn’t necessarily about the unachievable. Disruptive approaches have proven to develop and progress the start-up and tech scene. We should be thinking along these lines for the PR industry.
  4. These platforms allow progressive thinking to have a platform and for the PR industry to participate in the discussion. It’s essential.
  5. Those who attend such PR conferences can learn and take the learnings back to practice.


PRCA has once again sponsored #PRFest this year because it believes #PRFest is a key PR event in the industry calendar.

Francis Ingham MPRCA, Director General, PRCA, said: “We are delighted to be supporting #PRFest once again. The festival promises to be a great platform for practitioners to be part of the industry conversation and can act as a key event to help practitioner’s professional development.”

PR conferencesHow can #PRFest help the PR industry?

#PRFest is different from other PR events. Firstly, it’s designed to be a festival. In order for it to be fully considered a festival, there has to be fringe events around the main days. This year, Women in PR will launch in Scotland, and the launch event is being timed to coincide with #PRFest and kick off the festival – Wednesday, 14 June. Booking details will be available soon, so keep an eye on @WIPRUK for updates.

My approach to developing #PRFest has also been different. I have crowdsourced the content. This means that those who will actually attend have inputted into the programme.

This year I also put a call out for pitches and I was pleased to have had such a number of pitches received. The pitches cover most of the areas we want to focus on and those areas we hadn’t covered, I was able to use my PR network to draw on the best speakers to discuss those subjects.


It has to be said that there is no better way of learning. #PRFest focuses on practitioner professional development, one of the key missions of the festival.

#PRFest speaker and Hotwire’s Head of Global Engagement, John Brown said: “#PRFest is what PR events should be, less hot air and more action. I’m delighted to be a part of an event that prides itself on having every attendee walk away with knowledge they can apply right away.”

Check out last year’s highlights video, here.


A hack is possibly an older term now, but it describes well what the session is about. On both days of #PRFest there will be a hack session, looking to break down industry issues and use the festival and the attendees to do this in a practical way.

Stephen Waddington, Ketchum’s Chief Engagement Officer, will lead a hack on the first day, allowing practitioners to develop a workflow around influencer relations.

PRFest 1 SAWhat are the barriers?

There are some well known barriers to attending these types of events, and we have to look to break them down to make key PR conferences and events more accessible.

  1. Cost – costs vary for tickets, but when you include travel and accommodation you can be look at upwards of £500. #PRFest has tried to keep costs to a minimum to allow greater affordability. I’ve even broken down the tickets to half days, as I assume not everyone can afford a full day ticket for £125 or two days for £240. Half day tickets are from £70. PRCA members get 10% off full day tickets though!
  2. As costs can be high, this limits public sector, independent practitioners and more junior practitioners
  3. We talk about diversity but the line-up of some PR conferences and events are less than diverse. Full of the same ‘boys club’ speakers, little to no female representation and it’s rare to find any representation of ethnic minorities. #PRFest however will cover diversity this year with representation of mobility, LGBT, sex and race. Check out the programme for info.

Sarah Hall, Editor of #FuturePRoof said: “#PRFest was a vibrant event that brought together some of the UK’s best thinkers and practitioners to mutual benefit. With a diverse programme, the 2017 conference looks set to be just as dynamic and thought provoking. I’m looking forward to the debate.”

  1. Time off. Yes, it takes time out of the office to attend an event. But how important is that event to YOUR learning? In my view, key events should be part of practitioner learning. So you have 150 staff – why are only two attending #PRFest? Surely you could consider sending more staff, perhaps over the two days, buying half day tickets? Of course it comes down to budget and learning objectives, but there must be a way of giving your staff better access to learning and development opportunities which are ‘ready- made’? The students who helped with #PRFest last year, although only junior, found the opportunity invaluable.

Top reason to book for #PRFest

If I could give only one reason to attend #PRFest it would be to invest in your professional development. The variety of topics that will be covered and not just skimmed over, will give you real knowledge and perhaps new skills to take away from the festival. You could get up to 20 CPD points for attending!

Don’t delay, get your #PRFest tickets here and get a 10% discount if you’re a PRCA member. Groups of four or more full days tickets also get a 10% discount.

This post appeared today as a guest post on PRCA’s website.