After attending PRAXIS for two years, this was my third experience of attending the world largest public relations and communication conference. For the first time, like the entire world, PRAXIS also went digital as SPECTRA, a distinctive online conference focused on reputation management. Initially when I learnt about the virtual conference, honestly I didn’t feel a lot of excitement for two reasons. First, of course this was one of those zenith other things that COVID 19 has taken away from all of us, the spirit of personally greeting people, the cheerful mood of the entire Indian PR fraternity under one roof, the excitement of networking and fun with more than 500 delegates each time. Second, I was scared if this could really happen and can make all of us feel the same?
Though as days started passing by, the initial depressing thoughts started fading away. I began to believe that Reputation Today and the entire team can make it happen and they genuinely pulled it off so beautifully. From building the excitement by communicating with each one of us every week, sending a goodie bag that captures the essence of the conference – a thoughtfully selected book, a bunch of candies and chocolates and to make it real – a Sanitiser. Followed by an awesome tasting three-course meal from Qmin by Taj.
It was a perfect blend of Inspiration & Co-creation; SPECTRA hosted over five international keynote speakers, two fireside chats, and 700 plus delegates who engaged in beatitude (read Public Relations) on its Day1.
The conference kick started with the inaugural address from Mr. Bahal where he spoke about the five important aspects of reskilling the entire community for the new realities.
The inaugural session was followed by an interesting fireside chat by Rama Bijapurkar, Economist and Thought Leader with Suresh Narayanan, Nestle India around “Protecting and building reputation in the new world”. Both Suresh and Rama engaged the audience in the conversation around the long lasting impact of pandemic, both social and economic slowdown. How brands have witnessed numerous changes in all aspects, from growth models, to partners, employees and managing reputation in current times. Mr. Narayanan also emphasised the fact that the whole purpose is not just to show how much profit numbers one has generated but to pause and assess how prepared your organisation is and look at the impact on your people.
Followed by a short interval where one can virtually visit the exhibition center, networking zone, meet and know the partners. The live conference resumed with the first keynote speaker Sabia Schwarzer, Allianz on “The Potential of Reputation Counsel”. Schwarzer emphasised around three things – I, You and We. “I” the CEO or the person who is at stake, who needs to be more empathetic. “You” represents the stakeholder who wants to be treated as human and adults. “We” is “your community“ with whom you move forward. Reputation counsel will increase one’s room to make the world a better palace.
The second Fireside chat of the day between Ellen Ryan Mardiks, Golin and Heather Woodard, McDonald’s USA focused on “Diversity, Inclusion and Equity” was quite engaging. The session was led by great experience shared by McDonalds around issues related to social justice and how they responded through words and action focusing on the safety of crew, employees and customers.
The next keynote speaker was Margery Kraus of APCO Worldwide. She focused on “The power of connection in enabling purpose”. Margery motivated on five benefits of corporate purpose – meeting increased expectation, retention of talent, maximising positive impact, addressing issues like social justice, purpose aligned growth.
Russell Dyer of Mondelez International spoke on “A Global Path of Purpose” and shared the Mondelez story of Purpose. He also focused on the importance of listening and learning.
Kerman Kasad from Project Management Institute in his interesting fireside chat with Kanika Dayal spoke about measuring reputation which is different at all levels and cannot be done through one frame. Categorising – product, employer and citizen brand and defining KPIs is key.
Kass Sells of WE Communications, spoke about purpose in the time of crisis – and the importance of reliable information, engagement with team, stakeholders and customers.
With this we wrapped the first day of SPECTRA from a thank you note from Amith. To my sheer surprise and happiness SPECTRA pulled off its Day 1 smoothly, keeping the enthusiasm intact!!
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