A Matter of Trust at PRIA’s 2019 National Conference

By Cameron Magusic

“All the world is made of faith and trust and pixie dust” – JM Barrie
It was a matter of trust, in the words of the great Billy Joel, as the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) gathered at Crown Promenade in Melbourne last week for its annual conference.

The theme of the day was ‘PR in the new world – trust, transformation and relevance’, with plenty of events and campaigns throughout 2019 to reflect on.

Earlier this year, I wrote for Commtract that “Commtractors should expect an increase in general expectations of trust, transparency and accountability in their work” given the delivery and aftermath of industry-wide investigations into Australia’s financial and aged care systems.

These investigations, especially the Hayne Royal Commission into banks and financial services, and others were top of mind at the conference.

Matthew Abbott, former ASIC Corporate Affairs Leader, presented a session on rebuilding institutional trust through regulatory enforcement was highly pertinent in this regard and followed on nicely from the welcoming address by Victorian Cabinet secretary Mary-Anne Thomas MP, who explored the state’s royal commissions into mental health and family violence, and Engage Vic, the government’s online platform to co-ordinate community submissions into government decisions.

Thomas emphasised that there is no surer way to break trust than to invite community engagement on a particular issue or campaign and then not respond to that engagement, whether you agree with it or not.

It will be interesting to see how that plays out in the context of the Victorian government’s recent decision to end old-growth logging immediately.

Futurist, author, entrepreneur and innovator, Mark Pesce gave a thought-provoking historical survey of how the technology of digital trust manipulation has existed since the development of the worldwide web and has increased exponentially since the emergence of social media and the smartphone.

Pesce ended his keynote by giving an inspiring call-to-action to ‘weaponise’ trust in the future and by pointing out that trust is uniquely human and provides the clearest pathway to the ‘rare commodity’ of truth.

The future of work and the public relations industry itself came under the spotlight thanks to illuminating breakout sessions.

Commtract CEO Luke Achterstraat reinforced the importance of online platforms that cater for the gig economy, given that next year will see a freeze in headcount and 40% of the workforce will be contingent.

Achterstraat presented statistics by PayPal that revealed the top reasons for working in the gig economy, which included the desire to make money through a side hustle (55%), the will for more autonomy and control (48%) and wanting more balance between career and family (48%).

Achterstraat’s message was that these challenges and opportunities for the gig economy can be managed if organisations and freelancers find common ground and respect each other’s terms of trade.

These actions taking place will lead to a virtuous cycle of trust-building and better relationships between freelancers and organisations.

A surprising sub-theme that emerged out of a few different sessions was how public relations and communication practitioners, who are increasingly being subsumed into marketing departments as Holmes Report CEO and editor, Arun Sudhaman noted in his dialogue with Angela Scaffidi, need to improve how they talk about their industry.

This was pointed out by Sudhaman while sharing the first findings from the 2019 World PR Report and OPR CEO Richard Brett in a panel discussion on building and maintaining trust through communication, PR and brand.

In all, while 2019 might be ‘the year of trust and transparency’, it looks like we’re only getting started with this conversation.

Cameron Magusic attended PRIA’s national conference with thanks to PRIA and Commtract.


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“All the world is made of faith and trust and pixie dust” – JM Barrie

It was a matter of trust, in the words of the great Billy Joel, as the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) gathered at Crown Promenade in Melbourne last week for its annual conference.

The theme of the day was ‘PR in the new world – trust, transformation and relevance’, with plenty of events and campaigns throughout 2019 to reflect on.

Earlier this year, I wrote for Commtract that “Commtractors should expect an increase in general expectations of trust, transparency and accountability in their work” given the delivery and aftermath of industry-wide investigations into Australia’s financial and aged care systems.

These investigations, especially the Hayne Royal Commission into banks and financial services, and others were top of mind at the conference.

Matthew Abbott, former ASIC Corporate Affairs Leader, presented a session on rebuilding institutional trust through regulatory enforcement was highly pertinent in this regard and followed on nicely from the welcoming address by Victorian Cabinet secretary Mary-Anne Thomas MP, who explored the state’s royal commissions into mental health and family violence, and Engage Vic, the government’s online platform to co-ordinate community submissions into government decisions.

Thomas emphasised that there is no surer way to break trust than to invite community engagement on a particular issue or campaign and then not respond to that engagement, whether you agree with it or not.

It will be interesting to see how that plays out in the context of the Victorian government’s recent decision to end old-growth logging immediately.

Futurist, author, entrepreneur and innovator, Mark Pesce gave a thought-provoking historical survey of how the technology of digital trust manipulation has existed since the development of the worldwide web and has increased exponentially since the emergence of social media and the smartphone.

Pesce ended his keynote by giving an inspiring call-to-action to ‘weaponise’ trust in the future and by pointing out that trust is uniquely human and provides the clearest pathway to the ‘rare commodity’ of truth.
The future of work and the public relations industry itself came under the spotlight thanks to illuminating breakout sessions.

Commtract CEO Luke Achterstraat reinforced the importance of online platforms that cater for the gig economy, given that next year will see a freeze in headcount and 40% of the workforce will be contingent.

Achterstraat presented statistics by PayPal that revealed the top reasons for working in the gig economy, which included the desire to make money through a side hustle (55%), the will for more autonomy and control (48%) and wanting more balance between career and family (48%).

Achterstraat’s message was that these challenges and opportunities for the gig economy can be managed if organisations and freelancers find common ground and respect each other’s terms of trade.

These actions taking place will lead to a virtuous cycle of trust-building and better relationships between freelancers and organisations.

A surprising sub-theme that emerged out of a few different sessions was how public relations and communication practitioners, who are increasingly being subsumed into marketing departments as Holmes Report CEO and editor, Arun Sudhaman noted in his dialogue with Angela Scaffidi, need to improve how they talk about their industry.

This was pointed out by Sudhaman while sharing the first findings from the 2019 World PR Report and OPR CEO Richard Brett in a panel discussion on building and maintaining trust through communication, PR and brand.

In all, while 2019 might be ‘the year of trust and transparency’, it looks like we’re only getting started with this conversation.
Cameron Magusic attended PRIA’s national conference with thanks to PRIA and Commtract.


 

Other financial communications related blogs you might be interested in:

Other blogs you might be interested in:

communication strategy
communications strategy