A number of years ago, maybe even 10 years ago, I had an idea. The idea was about developing a public relations community where practitioners could genuinely benefit from learning and networking.
A growing seed
#PRFest was an idea. An idea to give public relations its own platform. Digital, advertising and marketing all had their own events, but public relations was always just a ‘category’ or mixed in. I didn’t think that was right and I knew from being Chair of the CIPR Scotland group and a Board Director of CIPR, that practitioners wanted and needed more.
Something independent from organisations and something with a bit of personality. There was room to develop something which still had a professional development focus but not the usual conference model.
It’s in my nature to try and solve problems. It’s also in my nature to want to help others. Whilst #PRFest wasn’t the original name of the event, it was to be called The PRofessionals, it quickly became known as #PRFest to everyone who talked about it, before the first event had even taken place.
True to the nature of evolving communities, I changed the name. The event is all about the people who attend (you!), so listening to them/you was only natural.
I know some people thought “who is she to come up with this and run this event”, maybe they still do, but if I’m honest, no-one else thought of it or was doing it. There was a huge gap. I had the idea, the skills and the time to develop it. It’s not about me, anyway!
Changing the venue
We’re into year three now. I’m actually a bit nervous about this year. I think it’s because I made the decision to change the venue (for this year), so there was more flexibility for space and breakouts. The ECCI is a world-class venue for sustainability – it had a Royal opening!
It has a cafe too, which serves great coffee, so if you fancy a proper coffee you can always nip in there. There’s a great outdoor area just off the cafe, so if it’s a nice day, I’m hoping we can do lunch outside. Fingers crossed.
I’m really pleased with the programme this year and you all seem to be, too. There’s a great mix of the common subjects we’re exploring every day as practitioners but there are also some thought provoking sessions around mindset and how we approach problem solving.
Don’t miss out
The event has already sold over 50% of the tickets and I know most years people leave it to a couple of weeks before to book. I’d recommend booking soon so you don’t miss out. the last two years have been sell-out events.
The thing I love about #PRFest is the atmosphere. There’s just such a nice buzz about it. I think people feel more relaxed because there is no pressure. The event really is what you make of it.
Sharing my own thinking
This year I wanted to share my own thinking and experience around social enterprise networking, specifically what works and doesn’t work. I did think twice about being the organiser and a speaker, but the platform is there and I think many of you will find value in my experience and may also be able to share your own.
Getting the most out of the festival
I always suggest, when going to events, that you read through the agenda/programme and have a think about what you want out of the sessions. Make some notes. If what you want to know doesn’t come up, then just ask. This year there is a lot more time allocated to discussion. Each of the speakers will have 10 minutes to present their session and a further 10 minutes to take questions and open up the floor to discuss. For the workshops, they obviously have more time.
The other new aspect this year is the attendee vote for a discussion topic. Each day you’ll be asked to post your subject choice on the wall. We’ll then add up the favourite topic and we’ll have a discussion around it. I think this will give us an opportunity to cover off anything not on the agenda and with such experience and skills in the room, we can all participate. Get your thinking caps on before you come!
The influencer dinner on the first night will be a laugh. Last year I introduced this so people could informally sit and chat over dinner and drinks. We had some very funny conversations! Anyone attending #PRFest can come – just make sure you click the box when you book your ticket! We just split the bill at the end.