Carmen Martínez Castro, the Spanish Secretary of State for Communications, has officially opened the 8th World Public Relations Forum at 10:00 this morning. This assembly is the largest international event for communication professionals and is being held for the first time in a Spanish-speaking country, hosted by Dircom and the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communications Management. More than 700 professionals from 65 countries have met in Madrid to share, discuss and build together the foundations of the industry moving forwards. Moreover, Carmen Martínez Castro indicated the Spanish government’s support for the industry in her opening speech.
The Secretary for Communications’ speech highlighted the major challenge we are facing in society at all levels, both socially and culturally, hence the importance of managing communication. She closed by transmitting a message of support to delegates: “I encourage this conference to come up with ideas and guidelines that can inspire us.”
José Manuel Velasco, president of Dircom, Anne Gregory, chair of the Global Alliance, and Daniel Tisch, former chair of the Global Alliance, also took part in the opening session and invited delegates to approach the global agenda from the point of view of conscience.
The first panel of experts, comprising Martina Larkin, Senior Director of the World Economic Forum; Anthony Gooch, Director of Public Affairs and Communications at the OECD; Peggy Liu, Chairperson of JUCCE –China, and David del Val Latorre, Chairman and CEO of Telefónica R&D, continued analyzing how to tackle the Global Agenda.
Key points made by speakers
José Manuel Velasco began by reflecting on how the current system of organizations works; the power of conscience and importance of creativity. “A communication professional must act as a conductor and facilitate the process for them. It is not enough just to send the message; we must be a superconductor to facilitate information.”
Daniel Tisch included a note of warning to the media in his speech: “We need a fair and free press. This is a challenge of responsibility. The role the media plays should be linked to the role of the PR professional and we should break away from the traditional view of ‘making a noise’. For Tisch, “professionals should collaborate internally and externally with organizations. We are promoting spaces for discussion that bring us closer to social justice. We have the opportunity and the duty to be the conscience of organizations.”
Anne Gregory, after expressing her concern about the current situation and crisis of confidence in all areas (business, politics, sport, etc.), stressed the importance of leadership in public relations in order to “know how to interpret what is out there and bring it into organizations.” For Gregory, a communication professional should be the “manager of a social context.”
After the opening speeches, discussion began on how to “Approach the Global Agenda”
Martina Larkin, Anthony Gooch; Peggy Liu, David del Val Latorre.
In her speech, Martina Larkin highlighted the current economic trends and three key aspects of every leader. For Larkin “Each and every leader is responsible for knowing how to lead communication.”
Anthony Gooch emphasized the role of communication professionals: “We do not always have to be the protagonists of the communication process. We are the facilitators of this process.”
Peggy Liu focused the discussion on the relationship between communication and the environment: “it is important to learn to create collaborative leadership” and urges philanthropists and leaders to cooperate on climate change.
David del Val Latorre closed the first panel of the plenary session at 11:00 by stating that “observing the behaviour of others is what makes ideas move forward.”