Kicking off the 2017-2018 CPRS season with a look to the future

By: Elizabeth Malcolm and Shelley Ford

‘Fake news.’

It’s certainly become a common term since the 2016 American presidential campaign, but as Dan Tisch, FCPRS, APR, points out, fake news is nothing new.

In fact, the concept of fake news can be traced all the way back to the days of the American Revolution–if not earlier–when newspaper printers exaggerated events to inflame anger towards the British and unite the colonies.

Two hundred and thirty-four years beyond the American Revolution, and fake news is still around, and is one of seven megatrends that Tisch identifies as shaping the future of PR today.

Tisch–President and CEO at Argyle Public Relationships in Toronto, ON–joined the Ottawa-Gatineau chapter of CPRS as the featured speaker at their Season Opener on October 16, 2017 at The Red Lion. Tisch joined chapter President Joan Wright and over 100 local PR professionals and students to share those seven megatrends that he identified earlier this year in his discussion paper, The Elevation of Public Relations.

Wright kicked off the evening reflecting on current events and developments over the past year, and the sense of urgency that she senses amongst the PR profession to seize on opportunities and define its future.

Tisch echoed these challenges and opportunities in describing how the seven megatrends we are witnessing today are shaping the future of the industry. As he sees it:

  • intangible assets–such as reputation and relationships–are becoming more and more important for businesses;
  • the rise of social media, smartphones, and citizen journalism has created an empowered audience that presents both challenges for organizations trying to manage their reputation in this environment, and new opportunities for organizations to build new relationships with these audiences;
  • the increasing availability of content across platforms is at odds with our capacity to process it, leading to content shock;
  • many speak and few listen, with organizations continuing to disseminate messages one-way, while not building two-way relationships with their stakeholders;
  • global publishing power via the social web has led to a decline in journalism and the inability to distinguish real news from fake news;
  • these trends have combined to create a growing gap in public trust in private- and public-sector organizations and create a disconnect between them and their audiences;
  • and finally that automation will soon see artificial intelligence increasingly being used to create content.

In the face of these trends, Tisch concluded, the need for an effective PR strategy is stronger than ever. The rise of content and the lack of social listening, the decline in journalism, and the growing gap in the public’s trust in authority all reflect a disconnect between organizations and their audiences. This is where PR professionals will play a key role.

“Content may be king,” Tisch noted. “But relationships are royalty.”

In that respect, Tisch’s presentation was the perfect kick-off to the 2017-2018 CPRS Ottawa-Gatineau season, during which time, Wright described, the chapter endeavours to connect the PR community in the nation’s capital and to build those relationships amongst the profession.

Tisch’s presentation was followed by a panel discussion with some of Ottawa’s leading communicators: Tisch was joined by moderator Robyn Osgood, APR, Principal at Blueprint, TRUEdotDESIGN Account Director Shawna Doyle, and Principal at Valin Strategic Communications, Jean Valin. The panellists echoed Tisch’s thoughts on the future of the industry, and fielded questions from the audience on the most pressing mega trend, how PR professionals can work with AI, whether an organization should speak up following controversy, and how best to handle content overload.

By the end of the evening, attendees had great feedback about Tisch’s presentation and the panel discussion, and appreciated the opportunity to connect with their fellow PR professionals.

“Gathering with colleagues is always a pleasure,” said Osgood. “Being able to do that and hear from leaders in our industry, is a bonus.”

Stay tuned for a season full of more events that connect and elevate the PR community in Ottawa-Gatineau!

CPRS Ottawa-Gatineau appreciates the generous support of Blueprint, who sponsored this event.

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