CIPR_logo_2011_72_dpiKetchum CEO Rob Flaherty delivered the prestigious 2014 Maggie Nally lecture last week at the Palace of Westminster in London, UK.

The event was hosted by the International group at the CIPR, the UK’s professional member organization for public relations, in memory of the organization’s first female president, Maggie Nally.

The Nally family sponsored five student places at the lecture and dinner, which took place afterwards in the House of Lords.

We invited two of the students to discuss their reflections of Rob’s speech from the perspective of practitioners at the start of their careers.

Thank you to Danielle Ricketts and Aaron Shardey for their comments and permission to share them on our blog.

Perception is reality

Rob Flaherty’s speech on ‘The End of Illusion’ gave a real insight into how PR is changing, as well as how illusions are no longer possible due to technology.

Flaherty called the end of illusion and discussed the implication that it has on our profession, companies, brands and individual work.

He suggested that the end of illusion and future for international public relations lies in four steps:

• Embracing transparency

• Focusing on character

• Reuniting the public and personal

• Minding the gap between actions and words.

I found the lecture fascinating and left the event with an interesting insight into how illusions are becoming impossible to uphold due to social technologies.

Danielle Ricketts is a second year student studying Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England, UK. Ricketts edits the student blog, ‘Behind the Spin’.

The shift to organisational transparency

The rapid growth in social media technologies, the increase in globalization and the uncovering of transparency amongst organizations have led to a shift in power from the institutions to individuals. This has made illusions harder to create, and eventually come to an end.

We are living in the post-illusion era. The only way we can work with this change and not against it is to embrace the transparency and incorporate it into our lives, as well as encourage our leaders to do the same.

By uniting our public and personal personas, we can transform our brands, organizations and, more importantly, ourselves. I think that it is incredible to be a part of this shift and change in the way we operate.

Flaherty stressed that we need to, “Mind the gap” – that is, the gap between actions and words, beliefs and behavior, and promise and delivery.

This lecture made me realize why I want to go into PR, be a part of this industry, helping organizations increase their transparency, and transform their reputations.

Aaron Shardey is second year Public Relations student at University of the Arts, London College of Communication, UK.

Stephen is a Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University. Chairman of Future Proof policy unit and Past President, CIPR. Author of Brand Anarchy and #BrandVandals; and editor and contributor to Share This and Share This Too.

Connect with him on Twitter: @wadds