Reflections from the CIPR Horizon conference

What’s on the horizon for Comms and PR professionals?

All Things IC Founder Rachel Miller and Comms Consultant Dan Holden joined over 200 public relations professionals and students at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Horizon conference.

The conference took place on 14 November in London. Alastair McCapra, CIPR Chief Executive described Horizon as: “The message was that the future is very much here. New ways of working, new audiences, and new technologies are not going to slow down, and public relations must adapt to them. What isn’t in question is how vital our role can be when we get it right.”

We’ve shared our reflections from the day and you’ll also find a link at the end of this article to the CIPR Engage podcast, where attendees at Horizon share their takeaways, including a short interview with Rachel.

Alex Partridge on stage at horizon conference

Rachel Miller and Dan Holden talking at a round table with another delegate from the CIPR Horizon conference

Rachel and Dan discussing the importance of wellbeing and culture with other attendees.

Rachel says: “You can’t beat face-to-face communication and Horizon was an excellent opportunity to learn new things, see Comms friends and clients in-person and discover new topics. Jay Richards’ talk on Gen Alpha and the impact of millennial and Gen Z parents got my brain buzzing, particularly as a parent of an 11-year-old and two eight-year-olds. I recognised the traits I’m already seeing in my twin sons, who turn nine at Christmas, and Jay’s talk made me think about what the world of work will be like when my children enter it. Jay’s predictions for Gen Alpha were:

  • They’ll push back against consent phone camera use and have stronger boundaries with social media… but at the same time they will love it.
  • They will be more aware about how their mental health will be affected due to being constantly in the public gaze.

“There were three highlights of the conference for me, Katie King’s AI presentation was pitched just right, to bring PR professionals up to speed and share how fast the field is developing. I like the way she explained what’s been happening.

I also enjoyed hearing Alex Partridge speak, he’s known in our industry as the Founder of LADBible and UNILad. His ADHD Chatter podcast has been incredibly helpful for me personally, as my household has learnt more about neurodiversity and embraced autism and ADHD diagnoses this year. I’m starting to feel more comfortable in public using fidget toys to help me concentrate. To be sat listening to Alex with mine in my hand, while he was using his on stage was a first for me. I taught an All Things IC Masterclass last week and told attendees for the first time that they may see me fidgeting with something while teaching, we’ve also been introducing LEGO and pens for people to doodle with in our in-person sessions.

Innovation and environmental adviser Mark Shayler was an energetic and enthusiastic speaker. He’s the owner of Ape and host of Making Things Better and Making Better Things podcast and his passion for his subject matter was palpable. He was bounding around the stage, blasting out music and kept us on our toes! ”

Dan says: “I valued having the opportunity to hear from speakers and panellists I hadn’t encountered before. Jay Richards, Co-founder of Imagen Insights, got me thinking about how different generations engage with technology. He broke down some of my perceptions, such as how the upcoming Gen Alpha aren’t as fixed on digital devices as I previously thought.

Thinking about this through an internal communications lens highlights the importance of knowing our colleague groups. Rather than making assumptions, understanding our colleagues’ challenges, barriers, and preferences stops us from making wrong assumptions.

Listening to Katie King, Founder of AI in Business, shocked me at how fast Artificial Intelligence (AI) is developing. I frequently hear the phrase, ‘AI won’t replace you at work, but someone who knows AI will’ and I can see how this can be the case.

I believe AI has a lot of potential to be part of our toolkits, helping us save time on lower-value tasks and activities, but we need to consider the ethics and biases that exist with AI. It can be tempting to quickly look to AI for solutions, such as for imagery, but we need to be clear on our policies surrounding its use and that colleagues know how we’re using it.

I’d recommend reading the report ‘AI and the future of Internal Communication‘ from the Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC) and Working the Future.

If you missed the CIPR Horizon conference, you can catch up on what other attendees took away thanks to the CIPR Engage podcast.

Post author: Dan Holden

First published on the All Things IC blog 6 December 2023

Photo credits: CIPR.

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