Message from the IPRA President: Nursing IPRA’s Thought Leadership Essays March 2016


Recently, I spoke with Robert Gray, IPRA’s editor for the Thought Leadership Essays (ITL), which members receive with regularity. Fresh content, regularly distributed, is a benefit of IPRA membership. The steadily growing online archive of essays is a repository of a huge amount of unique PR-related content. This befits the standing of an organization like IPRA and provides a first-class resource for researchers and practitioners.


From Frontline to ITL

Some of you might remember the former IPRA magazine Frontline, which under Rob’s tutelage has migrated to the current series of Essays. I asked Rob what he looks for in authors. He told me they are generally senior people. Think of agency directors, CCOs and Heads of in-house departments, Rob said, and the occasional PR Professors. I always strive for a balance of perspectives throughout the year. This means a good mix of agency versus in-house, with a few academics and communicators from disciplines outside PR thrown in to spice things up and broaden viewpoints.”


Since IPRA is a global association, Rob’s sources contributions from across the world’s regions. We have had lots of fantastic essay contributions from Europe, North America, Asia and Australasia, he said. But he also acknowledged that he’d like to attract more contributions from professionals in Africa and South America.


Rob has been involved with IPRA for over 16 years in addition to having been a writer for PR Week and Marketing Mag/Campaign in the UK. This has brought him an extensive network as well as a long-term overview of both passing trends and those that have a permanent impact. So I asked him what he is looking for in the Essays he edits. I’m always looking out for informative, entertaining and useful topics within our professional areas, he said. This can be the handling of a crisis, or the averting of one, but also insights into a transformation program or how to handle a landmark event. As for strategic topics, digital and social media are high on the list. I also search for good contributors on Corporate Responsibility, Sustainability, Measurement and Evaluation, Agency Management and Communication Strategy. These are all perennial themes that never go away – nor should they.”


The importance of feedback

As a professional communication writer with well over 1,000 LinkedIn connections, I assumed Rob would receive feedback on the essays he edits and publishes for IPRA. He acknowledged this, saying that he monitors whom on LinkedIn engages with what and whom, and what they have to say about the essay itself. Or more broadly on the topic or issue addressed by that essay: Sometimes members or other communicators I know well will email me directly if they have an opinion, he said. I tweet about the essays as well, and re-tweets provide a good gauge of whether an essay has traction.



Advice for future contributors

Although finding contributors for the IPRA Though Leadership Essays has been successful enough to reach over 160, Rob does have some advice for future contributors. Don’t be shy. I am always receptive to interesting ideas. Ideally, take a look at our online archive first as this will give a good sense of essay style and the sort of topics and angles we like to tackle. Always bear in mind that our core audience is international communication experts. Be aware, too, that English is not the native language of many IPRA members. And if it is not a contributor’s native language either, rest assured I will help to polish up and sharpen a text wherever it is needed. Should you have an idea, I will also help getting it into focus and provide you with some basic pointers on what we look for in an IPRA Thought Leadership Essay.


Rob Gray can be reached at [email protected]




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