Message from the IPRA President: A year for trust and diversity January 2021


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First, please accept my very best wishes to you and your loved ones for 2021. I wish you all peace and good health, and many beautiful moments of joy.

I am very honoured to take on the role of President at IPRA and will do my very best to build on the splendid work of Svetlana Stavreva-Petrushkova and the board over the last two years. Thank you again Svetlana and board members for your support. It would be redundant to cover the many challenges of 2020, a year completely overshadowed by covid-19 and the global pandemic. I do not wish to minimise the impact at all. The last 12 months have been tough both professionally and on a personal level. Long months away from home fighting the virus in West and North Africa and the Philippines, lockdowns, travel under strict security measures, and the mental health impact were all part of my own 2020.

 

But for 2021, I want to focus on what’s next.

 

Trustworthy communication

More than ever, I am convinced that ethical, open and trustworthy communications can save lives, bring peace and break the walls of ignorance. I have been fortunate to witness this up close during my covid-19 emergency risk communication engagements in Africa and Asia. Although we all have seen examples of mis- and disinformation, fake news and straightforward manipulation of facts, we also witnessed prominent examples of good, timely and honest communication. Communication which allows communities to take action, help themselves, and brings hope. It is this kind of communication, based on trust and transparency, that the International Public Relations Association will continue to stimulate and endorse in 2021.

 

International diversity

We should be proud of our beautiful profession. All of us, professionals and freelancers, in agencies, in-house, in the public, non-profit and private sector alike, are making a difference across the globe every single day. It is this international diversity that I would like to protect and promote even more through our work with national and regional associations. I see IPRA as a true international home for those communication practitioners and associations who want to connect with others beyond their borders and expand their horizons. We all know the world is more interconnected than ever before, but the last twelve months have shown that local and regional communication is still crucial to develop understanding and collaboration. A professional and international network should support this.

 

Education, professional development and support

The time of SOS (sending out stuff) is long gone. Fast-paced business and societal changes are challenging public relations professionals to upgrade their skills and learn new ones. Our collaboration with CIPR and The PR Training Academy has set the first steps to give IPRA members access and benefits to learn online. But we will not stop there. This year we will endeavour to increase our training and coaching opportunities. Our membership base and our board comprise public relations practitioners with hundreds of years of collective experience. Together with the board, I will look at different ways to share this knowledge at regular webinars, online training and mentoring programmes. Another aspect which touches us all is our mental health. 2020 has been tough on many of us, on a professional and personal level. Even before the pandemic, several reports showed that many colleagues suffered from stress and burnout. Together with help groups and other associations, IPRA will strive to support initiatives tackling this important challenge.

 

Science-based communication

If the last twelve months have made something clear, it is that communication should be science based and, at the same time, that science is difficult to communicate. We’ve seen countries struggle to communicate three simple rules; physical distancing, basic hand hygiene and wearing a mask. They struggled, not because of a lack of resources, but because of not enough knowledge about human behaviour and cognitive biases. This year IPRA will strive to increase its collaboration with our colleagues in the academic world so we can implement recent findings in sociology, psychology and behavioural sciences, into ethical communication.

 

All together now

We need each other now more than ever so we can get the world back on a more positive track. And we all know it will take good and transparent communication, created and delivered by professional public relations practitioners to do so. Together with my friends and colleagues of the IPRA board we’ll make 2021 the year of open collaboration among members and associations worldwide. If any of the topics above are of a particular interest or importance to you, please get in touch with me or members of the board. Let’s share experiences, tips, and information to support our profession.

 

Looking forward to working with you all!

 

Philippe Borremans

President 2021

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