NB: This was written one month ago.

I’ve just returned from the First International History of PR Conference and wanted to share a few thoughts from the practitioner perspective of attending an academic conference.

#ihprc – as it was termed on Twitter – brought together some of the leading names in PR history and historiography from around the world.

It was absolutely fantastic to engage with speakers and delegates from Spain, Germany, Italy, Estonia, America, Canada, Australia and so on.  There was a real wealth of experiences and knowledge in Bournemouth for the conference duration.

It was also great to meet some of the ‘celebrity academics’ – the people whose books I had read and quoted while studying with the CIPR, such as Jackie L’Etang, Tom Watson, Robert Heath and so on.

But, with my practitioner rather than studying (or presenting) hat on, some observations:

  • There were some absolutely fantastic presentations but there were also a fair few where people had not effectively translated written academic paper to visual and oral presentation – something you would not get away with in front of clients;
  • While most people kept to time, there were still those who overran and tried to squeeze in that last bit of information rather than keeping to the brief – again, not something you’d get away with in a new business pitch;
  • While appreciating that the focus of the conference was ‘history’, there was a fair amount of navel gazing – looking back without then taking the additional step to examine what it means for the industry now.

However, leaving those observations aside, it was absolutely fascinating as a practitioner to get an insight into the people providing that body of knowledge which supports the PR industry’s bid for professionalization.  And, great that the PRCA and CIPR both got involved to try and bring the debates out of the classroom and into the real practicing world.

Congratulations to the #ihprc organisers and here’s to next year!