PROI Singapore – A Review

As you may or may not know, we are members of the Public Relations Organization International or PROI – founded in 1971. This is a network of independent PR Agencies that leverage their global knowledge and expertise as well as extensive network of contacts and Clients across a wide range of industry sectors.

This is a very active network and it requires of its members true commitment and not lip service hence the global gathering that takes place annually at different venues around the world.

This year, reflecting the move of economic power to the East from the West, the venue was held in Singapore, a financial and commercial hub of Asia, and one of the most progressive economies in the world.

Our hosts, Foreword PR, were both generous and faultless with their hospitality and their organization of elements of the conference.

Two days of meetings, work groups and presentations, both by different regions and also – this time around – guest speakers from Google Asia and BBC Asia, made the event both colourful and informative.

There were some 56 Agencies in attendance and this involved our partners from Los Angeles to Brisbane, Japan to South Africa, Brazil to Egypt and was a great opportunity to share experiences, best practice, contacts and – of course – new business opportunities!

It would be too long to go into a day-by-day summary so I have attempted to summarize the key areas of this meeting as follows:

The commercial focus continues to shift to the East from the West but this is now picking up momentum as talks by Myriam Boublil, Head of Google Southeast Asia Communications and Public Affairs, and Ben Richardson, Editor of Asian Business BBC World, stated in their presentations to the PROI Global Conference.

YouTube: Ben Richardson talking about a day in the life of BBC World

Clearly, the PR discipline is alive, kicking and healthy both in the traditional as well as the digital form. It is thriving not only in the East but globally,  and increasingly looking at specialization and even evolving skills from the consultants involved.

Digital and the internet are having profound impact on businesses – no big surprise there – but the interesting things are how and where will this lead.

That the issue of finding and retaining talent remains a challenge. And this is a global phenomenon, and one that there appears to be no hard and fast solution to given the attitude that tends to prevail nowadays with job market entrants.

Whilst the world is becoming quite homogeneous with global brands, organizations and ideas – it is still very diverse when it comes to doing creative and fun activity like PR and marketing — and that creativity is always in demand from Clients. What they are willing to pay for, however, varies widely!

Another highlight for Active PR is that the Committee identified three areas of focus and growth in the world and asked the partners representing those areas to present a “Doing Business In…” element to the partners.

The three areas chosen were India, Chain and the Middle East. Partners were given the option of being able to attend two of the three presentations. The Middle East one was well attended on both occasions and the feedback from the partners that attended revealed that they felt it was valuable and insightful. We were very pleased to hear that!

It has to be said though that whilst the speakers invited were a great way to “break up” the two day sessions and an opportunity to get insight and key learnings from some of the very people and organizations that directly interact with us – the two speakers here did not offer any added value and in both cases did not really talk to their subject matter. Having said that the format of having guest speakers is definitely a good one!

In conclusion this annual meeting is always a great opportunity to compare notes, exchange best practice and experiences and meet new partners and there were a few this year – well done Jean Leopold for this!

We now look forward to the PROI EMEA Meeting in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and welcoming our European and African colleagues to this beautiful country!