December 2019 marked three years since we created Public Relations Oxford and we thought it would be worth looking back on what has been a busy and fruitful year.
We kicked off in March with our first event focusing entirely on internal communications. In a year when professionals are still struggling to prove the value of the sector, our panel made the case for using new tools, harnessing internal comms for external and internal value and crucially – limiting the noise in an age when employees are increasingly concerned with mental wellbeing.
Having waddled along to the March event subsequent to having a baby in January, Dan and I decided to make life harder for ourselves by collaborating with Oxford University Innovation to host an entirely new type of event, encompassing both the PR and start-up communities. In April we invited start-ups and PRs to the Tap Social – to meet, learn about each others’ challenges and explore new opportunities. Sian Gaskell from Cuban Eight provided insight from a local agency working with Oxford-based fledgling tech businesses. In her blog she reflects on how productive both industries are, and the potential power of collaboration.
With the Brexit debate hotting up in Westminster (did it ever cool down in 2019?), Ed Vaizey joined us and his fellow panellists to talk Policy and Public Affairs in June. As Nicky Smith notes in her blog about the event: “Whatever we think of current politics and parliament, a good public relations professional should have a clear understanding of the role of their local MP and how important they can be to their clients.” Ed did a great job of providing an insight into the priorities and interests of a local MP and we were pleased we booked him when we did, considering he stepped down from his position ahead of the December General Election.
Nicola Green, newly appointed to Telefonica UK’s Executive Committee, provided an insight into the journey from in-house PR to a formal role running a business in our September event: How does PR secure a seat at the board table? Alongside her fellow panellists, Nicola discussed the challenges faced at board level and what we need to do as professionals to equip ourselves appropriately for such senior roles. The lovely Jennifer Sanchis reviewed her thoughts on the event in her last blog post as Content Editor for Public Relations Oxford (keep your eyes peeled for the opportunity to join us in the new year!).
We ended the year on a high, celebrating three years of Public Relations Oxford and our final event of the year: Supercharge your digital PR. A top panel showcased the tools and opportunities posed by digital in our industry. A key take-out for me is the vital role digital media relations plays in influencing Google rankings – demonstrating the way in which PR is evolving, and that its importance and relevance remains strong.
Along the way, we’ve worked with organisations such as the CIPR, Twelve PR and PRCA to connect our community with training and development opportunities; to become Communicator Superheroes for example. An in 2020 we’re excited to say, we’ve formed a new partnership with the CIPR to host the Oxford-based events for the Thames & Chiltern group.
Across these events, we’ve had more than 600 people sign up, keen to add to their expertise and develop their careers. We couldn’t host our events without our incredibly supportive sponsors, Venn Group – please do check them out.
In a year rife with political division and anxiety, I’m very proud of this group of communicators, working together, offering advice, and learning from each other. Here’s to an exciting new decade!