2011 ICCO Summit Unites PR Consultancy Directors from 35 Countries

October 2011, SINTRA, PORTUGAL – On the 29th and 30th of September, some 150 PR consultancy directors from 35 countries convened at the 2011 ICCO Summit for “PR Takes the Lead: The Industry in 2020”. The one-of-a-kind programme delivered lively debate among top PR consultants and included both the Global SABRE Awards ceremony and inductions into the ICCO Hall of Fame.

Leading public relations figures Lord Chadlington (Huntsworth), Rob Flaherty (Ketchum), John Saunders (Fleishman-Hillard), Prema Sagar (Genesis Burson-Marsteller) and Brad Staples (APCO Worldwide) led sessions on Day 1 of the Summit, sharing their views on the future direction of the business and opportunities for PR. Collectively they highlighted a shift in growth and services toward Asia and the need to “do good” by supporting clients in sustainable and responsible business practices. They also brought to light the disruptions to the public relations industry through economic and social change and the need to lead communications at a strategic level by being more creative in our work.

Day 2 saw practical breakout sessions by experts on the use of social media, measurement of PR campaigns, management of key financial elements and competing for talent. The programme also incorporated a panel session with leading independent agency heads Jean-Leopold Schuybroek (Interel), Andreas Fischer-Appelt (fischerAppelt), Carl Fredrik Sammeli (Prime) and Maxim Behar (M3 Communications), who discussed the major issues facing the future success of independent businesses.

Stephen Waddington of Speed explained the emergence of social media and how the “shift to participation” creates new service territory for PR to claim, while Robert Phillips of Edelman drove home the need for transparency in building trust and maintaining the reputation of not just brands and companies but also individuals and governments.

Paul Holmes of The Holmes Group challenged consultants to stand up for PR and be confident in the value they deliver since the business of “relations with the public” encompasses far more than mere communications. Olivier Fleurot (MSLGROUP) later closed the conference by drawing attention to the major changes the world has experienced in the last five years and what the impact has been on public relations in particular. He argued that, in order to succeed, consultancies need to 1) adopt new business models that embrace the new communications environment and 2) implement a global campaign to improve the perception of PR.

Current ICCO President Richard Houghton and Past President Lou Capozzi moderated the two days of high-level debate and acknowledged the role of ICCO as a convener of industry leadership.

The ICCO Summit is a bi-annual event that pulls together senior practitioners from public relations consultancies around the world to explore the issues and trends affecting our industry. We aim to unite director-level and above consultants to spark debate, share best practice and strengthen our community.

The theme for the 2011 Summit was “PR Takes the Lead: The Industry in 2020”. This year’s Summit looked ahead to what the future may hold, not only in order to prepare our businesses with foresight and seize new opportunities but also so that we may take an active part in shaping the role of public relations in the coming years. Visit www.iccosummit.org for more information.

The International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) is the voice of public relations consultancies around the world. The ICCO membership comprises national trade associations in twenty-eight countries across the globe: from Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia. Collectively, these associations represent some 1,500 PR firms.

For more information on ICCO and the benefits of membership, visit www.iccopr.com.