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27th National PR Congress goes digital, tackles industry issues in the new normal

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By Victoria “NIKE” De Dios

There is no stopping the country’s communications leaders and strategists in the midst of pandemic and they all look prepping up for the post-pandemic scenario of the Philippine PR landscape such as industry recovery efforts and pressing issues such as mental health in the workplace, resiliency, and sustainability, equality and diversity, and more.

All of these were the highlights during times of crises headline the upcoming 27th National Public Relations Congress. Spearheaded and organized by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP), the nation’s premier organization for public relations professionals, the annual gathering of communication professionals from all over the country will also try to look into how practitioners can maximize the changing market dynamics to boost the industry at the same time outline trends and opportunities moving forward.

The upcoming Congress, usually scheduled in September alongside other annual celebrations for the National PR month, will move to February 2021 to allow industry players to focus on COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, in particular servicing brands amid the restrictions posed by the quarantine while also looking after their workforce.

Despite this change, Congress will yet again mark several firsts. The 27th Congress will go full-digital, in part reflecting how the PR industry is adapting to the new normal and embracing new technologies to continue telling the story of brands and organizations. Besides taking the virtual route, the Congress will run for three days instead of the usual two.

Rising above the hurdles as one industry

Anchored on the year’s events impacting industries, in particular the pandemic that has practically put the world to a standstill, the upcoming Congress has the theme “Transcend” to communicate how the industry remains united in rising above the challenges not just to recover but also, and more importantly, to contribute to nation-building.

Ana Pista, the chairperson of the 27th National PR Congress, said: “The Congress hopes to inspire PR and communication practitioners across the country to go beyond conventional thinking and step out of their comfort zone to address pressing issues. Transcend as the Congress theme is about moving forward to create a better normal for all.”

The theme Transcend is aligned with PRSP’s theme for the year, PR for Good, which reaffirms PR’s role in making a lasting impact on society. It also reminds communication professionals to use their voice as the industry storyteller to contribute to solving the country’s problems.

PRSP President Norman Agatep, APR shared: “As we rise above the present conditions in the industry, it is important that we do not lose sight of what PR is all about. It is about telling the stories not just of brands, products, and services but also of service, strength in adversity, unity, and hope. We need to transcend both our circumstances and conventional practices in order to serve the larger society.”

The discussions during the three-day conference will center on three core themes. The first day will be a retrospect on how the industry has been reshaped by the pandemic and what these new realities are for Philippine PR. It will look into how businesses and consumers are adapting and how the role of communication has changed — and will continue to evolve — in response to the new market and business landscape. The series of discussions on the second day will revolve around the shift to new technologies and how this will redefine the practice of PR in the new decade. On the third day, the sessions will focus on issues fueling many of today’s narratives such as environmental sustainability, mental health, and equality and diversity.

Similar to the 2019 PR Congress, there will be breakout sessions to let attendees choose the topics they are more interested in.

Local and international speakers share their voice

Taking off from the previous Congress where the discussions were enriched by different perspectives from within and outside the country, the upcoming Congress will gather together a powerhouse roster of local and international speakers.

With more than 1,000 PR and communication practitioners expected to attend, the Congress hopes to be the forum for discussing how the country’s PR industry can future-proof itself using lessons from the pandemic and insights about current issues as gleaned from the experiences of these speakers.

“The Congress adapting to the new normal carries with it the message that we can do better in our role as communicators and citizens. By discussing the issues that are directly affecting the public, we highlight the role of PR in building a society that works for all,” closed Pista.

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