PR and disruption – embracing and surviving change


Disruption: to break apart, throw into confusion or disorder; to interrupt or impede the normal course of progress

If you’ve ever felt that PR conferences are rather tame and predictable with their keynote speeches, panel discussions and case study examples, well London College of Communications is taking a different approach with its new development: PR and Disruption: Embracing and Surviving Change.

Rather than sitting back and waiting for the next opportunity to network over coffee and delicious danish pastries, attendees should find this event to be edgy and a little less polite than the usual carefully choreographed conference.

Yes, the formal blurb lists all the standard conference elements – but, IMHO its most important features are the ‘face-off’ debates that I will be chairing and the practical sessions where you can ‘get your hands dirty’.

I’m hoping for real energy, disagreement and challenging views in the three ‘face-off’ debates. I want polarised opinions, argumentative viewpoints and clear differentiation of perspectives both among the speakers and those witnessing the novel ‘face-off’ counter propositions. The audience should have their own initial positions confirmed and smashed to pieces at the same time – with lively input and debate from each session. We need to get outside our comfort zones at such events and rather than snoozing after lunch, I aim to get the adrenalin flowing in a battle of the brains with some polemic arguments.

First into the ring will be:

Paul Seaman (@PaulSeaman) vs Dr Oyvind Ihlen – debating the Social Role of PR. This pits an argument for a focus on PR helping economic growth against a social role to enhance civic society. Hard-nosed pragmatic finance against favouring the public interest?

Next up will be:

Drew Benvie (@drewb) vs Richard Bailey (@behindthespin) – arguing around media disruption. In the red corner, is compelling multimedia story-telling across multiple online and offline platforms. In the blue corner, let’s hear it for powerful traditional news channels.

Our final bout involves:

Sarah Williams (@sasbongo) vs Stephen Welch (Hay_Group_UK) – wrestling with disruptive skills for PR. Are traditional PR skills sufficient or do they need to evolve, radically and strategically?  Let the battle over competencies begin.

I hope there will be no sycophancy, win-win compromise, or yes, but… no, but… wishy-washy co-orientation. Just raw opinion that has to stand up to rigorous examination and debate. No toddler temper tantrums or ‘because I said so’ retorts will be allowed. All views should be able to stand up to the argy-bargy of the ‘face-off’ – but I’ll discourage yah-boos and banana peel throwing from the audience. Or should I call them publics or activists – as we should not just accept questions from the floor, but throw questions out to the floor as well.

But if all this sounds too rough and tumble – then there’s a choice of a stream of case studies (chaired by my Public Relations Strategic Toolkit co-author, Alison Theaker @thesparkuk) or the dirty hands approach of three workshops co-ordinated by Simon Collister (@SimonCollister). These sound great fun with an opportunity to learn about film-making for PR, how to create impactful PR infographics or developing a smartphone app in 45 minutes.

Here is the full itineary and you can book for the event taking place on 10th July (right up to the day before) via this link: Book for PR and Disruption

Fees: Full-day tickets: £125 (inc VAT). Half-day tickets (morning or afternoon only): £75 (inc VAT)
Location: London College of Communication, central London
Hashtag: #PRdisrupt
Contact: For more information email Simon Collister

Published by

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.