LCC recently hosted ‘PR & The Visual’, a conference exploring identity, space and performance, organised by the Network for Public Relations and Society.
LCC’s Simon Collister and Sarah Roberts-Bowman led the all-day event, which was attended by international academics and practitioners and included a wide-range of talks, including keynotes from Brand Union’s Glenn Tutssel and The Independent’s Ian Burrell.
Burrell focused on the lack of champions in PR and the need for the industry to have better representation, citing the likes of Andy Coulson, Matthew Freud, Alastair Campbell and Max Clifford as examples of hindering figureheads in an already misunderstood profession.
“This year has been a public relations disaster for the PR industry…. Publicity-seekers like Clifford should never again be given the freedom to dominate the industry’s profile as he did,” said Burrell.
Academic speakers explored a range of visually-based topics including the presence of PR in pop culture, with Murdoch University’s Kate Fitch examining the representation of the industry in HBO series True Blood.
De Montford University’s Liz Bridgen looked at how PR can be conceptualised within the socially constructed field of ‘dirty work’, and Elon University’s Jessalynn Strauss explained how the physical space of Las Vegas’ mob museum is adopted as a PR tactic.
The conference dissected successful visual PR campaigns like Wolfstar’s Flower Fireworks campaign for Interflora and Unity PR’s Lolz Not Trolls. Edelman’s Gavin Spicer discussed the logistics of their Halo 4 launch, which took over Lichtenstein to create a fully immersive brand experience.
Delegates also took part in practical workshops exploring the use of photography, film, infographics and Vines within a PR setting.
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Co-founder of the Network for Public Relations and Society, Simon Collister, said:
“Our ‘PR and the Visual’ conference has been a great success. We have brought together a range of international academics and practitioners to explore and discuss the challenges, limits and opportunities for public relations theory and practice.
“Feedback from delegates and speakers confirms what we suspected when planning the event: academic and practitioners need to think much more creatively when studying the field or planning campaigns. In hosting the event we’re confident we have opened a new chapter in PR scholarship and practice.”