And the winner of the Jos Willems award 2008 is…

Stephen Smith for his masters level dissertation project: “postmodern public relations and the rise of the corporate blog”, completed as part of the CIPR Diploma course.  

As his tutor at CMC, I also received a Jos Willems award certificate from EUPRERA in Milan on Friday – which was just so exciting. 

It was brilliant to hear Stephen present his project and findings at the conference – and the fact that his work was judged superior to dissertations from masters and doctoral students across Europe further underlines the quality of academic knowledge and practical research undertaken by our Diploma guys.

The CIPR Diploma is a professional qualification completed in under 12 months by those who are also working full-time in busy PR roles – Stephen, for example, works at Harvard, a leading tech PR consultancy.

I also enjoyed the presentation by the undergraduate winner, Kayleigh Brennan, who studied her PR degree at Leeds Met and researched informal channels of internal corporate communication (that’s the grapevine).

The topic of the Euprera congress this year was “institutionalization” – and there were a lot of very interesting points covered in the full programme of presentations.  I hope to pick out some of these further here over the coming days – but check out interviews and presentations at YouTube.

Being at the event also meant that I met some of my PR Conversations blogging friends – including Benita Steyn, João Duarte and Toni Muzi Falconi.  Sadly, we weren’t joined by PRC connector Judy Gombita and I was surprised to hear that none of the other PRC contributors had met Judy so far.  She remains a dear virtual friend to us all.

Toni organised a lovely private soiree on Thursday evening, which I enjoyed so much (I truly thank him for including me on the guest list). 

As with chats and discussion at the congress, over breakfast and the last night dinner, the opportunity was there for the type of PR conversation that underpins the concept of two-way symmetric communications.  There is nothing quite like meeting people face to face and sharing a social context to build relationships and learn more.

My feet suffered as much as my brain though, as I never learn to travel with shoes that are suitable for walking.  Recently in Guernsey, I broke a pair of heels and the same happened last week – cue an excuse for buying new ones.  Of course, this was no hardship in Milan, although I stuck to an artisan budget rather than designer-prices.

So thanks to Stephen, Euprera (particularly Sue Wolstenholme), James Petre at CIPR and Charles Nixon at CMC who all made my trip last week possible.

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

10 thoughts on “And the winner of the Jos Willems award 2008 is…”

  1. It’s good to read your reports from Milan: I’d been looking out for some blog chatter from the event and not found any until now.

    What’s my excuse? I was teaching all day on Friday and Saturday…

  2. Thanks Richard, I would have blogged from the venue, but could only get online in one separate IT room meaning I couldn’t also be in the presentations. Sadly, my hotel’s wifi was one of those ridiculously expensive options – and I also didn’t appreciate Italy has different sockets and I had only an English-French adaptor. So much for technology then…

    I should have been teaching myself on Saturday, but managed to find an experienced tutor and former student to take the group.

  3. I had been looking out for some detail too – I watched the YouTube uploads of the opening sessions, but nothing else has appeared so far. Keep it coming – I would particularly like to know how the debate on institutionalisation went and if there was any ‘call to action’ in the end, especially after all the conversations on this subject on PRC.

    Sorry not to have been there too – it would have been great to meet you in person and congratulations to Stephen and to you on the award. Special congratulations on ‘achieving’ a pair of Milan shoes (artisan or otherwise) …

  4. Thanks for the kind words, Heather. Benita was sending me short recaps of the socializing, so I almost felt like I was there. (Although as I pointed out to Benita that given it was a conference for European academics, the likelihood of my attending was slim-to-nil.)

    I’m sure I will meet one or more of you at some point (maybe next June, if rumours about the location of the next World PR Festival prove true), but planned conferences/leisure trips (for all parties) generally determine the likelihood of meeting. But I firmly believe it’s simply a matter of time. Heck, I corresponded with Andrew Arnold for at least seven years (we originally “met” via Melcrums’ Communicators’ Network listserv), before finally getting to meet Andy in person. Pre-visit to Copenhagen he was able to suggest a lovely (reasonably priced) hotel in an amazing location, and when we were actually there, we had a great dinner with Andy. But you’re right in these last two posts about how it is wonderful to finally meet in person the people you’ve become so impressed with and fond of online.

    (BTW, I hear Benita gave you a run for the money when it came to purchases, except she favoured handbags versus your shoes. She bought five of them!!!!!)

    Finally, what are the odds of Stephen Smith’s paper becoming available online?!

  5. Judy – Benita was able to put luggage in the hold as she was travelling long-haul where I was on a budget airline where I took just hand luggage or I would have been shopping like Victoria Beckham.

    I’ll check with Stephen about his paper and see if we can publish it maybe at PRC.

  6. Benita is very happy she went for handbags instead of shoes because she isn’t sure she will ever be able to wear shoes again. She has gone barefoot today since the two melons at the end of her legs are not allowing any kind of covering, Milanese or otherwise.

    During the 19-hr return journey, she did try the stripping act of removing her shoes during the 45 min spent at Doha Airport, Qatar — but the fascinated stares of the indigenous men who tried to imagine what the toes would look like without the toenails quickly made her cover them again.

    So please send Stephen’s paper asap or else she will have to start working or even blogging about the Euprera conference and both endeavours seem to be mountainous in the current exhausted state — brought on more by 33 hrs of perusing factory outlets and consuming kilos of Parma ham and ice cream than by taking in conference papers.

    But you guys, it was a GREAT conference! More about that later when I have had some sleep and can drum up the energy. (Don’t tell Richard that I quoted him twice during the opening panel!!).

  7. Hi All
    My paper is now uploaded onto my blog:

    It’s currently in a slightly clumsy Google Doc. Hopefully I’ll be able to find a more appropriate format for sharing it over the next few days. There also a short summary of the research which is posted on the blog.

    Thanks for various congratulatory notes and kind words.


  8. Hi Richard, The one and only Mr Bailey was of course the one I referred to!

    And c’mon, give the girls a break. There were 3 plenary sessions with 4 presenters each and 64 parallel sessions, so we had academic papers and institutionalisation talk in 25 different accents coming out of our ears. So we just needed a little breather/banter before we fell right back into it again.

    But you win! Heather has just posted on Euprera 2008. So come and join us at PRC in Euprera chatter.

  9. Can a Dad and Mum be proud?
    As someone who has followed every stage of Stephens life from his birth to date I want to say how proud we are of our son.
    Nothing worthwhile comes easy and Steve has worked hard for his many achievements but none of these are won without the help of others, so from a proud Dad can I say THANK YOU.

    David S. Smith. ( )

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