Inspirational and practical insight at #BestPRactice19

By Adam Driver, Senior Associate – Client Services at Cambridge-based content marketing agency CPL.

A few weeks on from the sixth Best PRactice conference, this time in sunny Norwich, and I’m adding a different perspective to Jon Wilcox's blog. I've been reflecting on the benefits of hearing from key industry experts in one place, and the sharing of experiences with other PR professionals. What a fantastic afternoon in Norwich, with PR and comms professionals from across the East of England coming together to learn, share best practice and meet fellow practitioners – be that in-house at local gov, NHS, charity, or other organisations, working for privately owned firms, freelancers or agency-side. This was the third CIPR East Anglia conference I’ve attended, and was the best – so far. More on why, below.

It’s at this point I should point out that, although I’m on the East Anglia committee, I take no credit for this wonderful event. I simply ran social media on the lead up to the event and on the day (it was great to see #BestPRactice19 trending on Twitter!). Huge congratulations and thanks to the whole team – especially Charlotte Stratta of Norwich City Council – who organised a fantastic conference. Additional thanks to the event sponsor Brand Recruitment, the (apt) National Centre for Writing for helping us hold the event at the beautiful Dragon Hall, and to SGA Video and Events for documenting the day. So, why so good? Inspirational speakers A huge thank you to all the speakers, some of whom travelled a long way to come and engage with us. Everyone was superb, kept the audience engaged and interactive, and left us with great takeaways. For me, hearing the no-holds-barred approach to professionalising communications from CIPR UK President Elect Jenni Field was really motivating – chiming with a lot of my own personal thoughts on the state of the PR industry at the moment. Looking forward to her getting stuck in soon. Secondly, I was really pleased to hear Asif Choudry, founder of #CommsHero, give an inspirational talk about how we should ‘dare to fail’, take risks and celebrate our successes. Thanks for taking the time Asif, especially during Ramadan.

Practical takeaways For me, living and working much of my time on social, Darren Caveney’s enlightening presentation on Supercharged Social Media was a highlight. Some great examples of organisations punching well above their weight, owning their topics and conversations. Other sessions I attended included Advita Patel’s in-depth look at communications for change (a very relevant topic for lots of us), influencer expert Harry Seaton, who walked an initially-wary audience through the value (and measurement) of influencing, Leanne Ehren (below) with her superb take on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, and Sally Beadle’s explanation of her evolving producer’s role at BBC Look East – which all went down well. Faces to names (Twitter handles)

Too many people to name check individually, but I loved meeting so many people I’d connected with online, IRL. Living in the East means that connecting and chatting with other comms folk is sometimes challenging. We make it work, however, and events like this are great or facilitating those conversations and prompting networking, ideas and (sometimes) a good moan. Us comms people have to stick together! Look forward to seeing more of you at CIPR connect events (in pubs?) around the region this summer. 

Insight, foresight, more sight DJ Shadow sums up my feelings on the conference there – we came, we learnt, we got inspired and we looked ahead. The future of our beloved industry is in a state of flux, but with proponents such as Jenni (direct, authentic leadership for her presidency) at the helm, I am very excited to continue my professional journey to become a chartered PR professional. What next? Onto the next event – check here for local meet ups near you, and sign up to Eventbrite to be kept in the loop for other events coming up soon (including a maximising LinkedIn session from yours truly in July).