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I am looking forward to talking to the Croatian Public Relations Association in Zagreb, and delighted to see the line-up includes Euprera friends Dejan Vercic, Betteke van Ruler and Bruno Amaral.

My presentation is called "Today all PR is online PR", and I have just done an email intervew with conference organiser Boris Hajoš. Here's what I said:

1. Is really all PR today on-line PR?
Yes! The first source most people will turn to find out about your organisation, and its products and services is Google. That means the impression they get will be based on information from a variety of sources, official and unofficial, positive and negative. 

2. What's up with the old tools? Do you want to say maybe that old ones are transferring to internet and change themselves irreversibly?

There is nothing wrong with the old tools, but many of them are changing. Newspapers, television and radio are moving online, or are complemented by online activity, and 'old fashioned' word of mouth etc is increasingly played out through social media.

3. How do you foresee future trends in our profession?
Public Relations will get ever more challenging! Organisations which once communicated through a small number of channels are finding themselves in an increasingly complex environment. Added to this, their stakeholders are connected in ways which were unimagineable a decade or so ago. At the same time, there are huge opportunities for those with the creativity and imagination to explore the new possiibilities opened up by online life. 

4. Are the social media and web completely change our lives and work?
Look at the statistics – across Europe people are spending ever more time online. The world is shrinking as the internet dispels the constraints of time and geography; the nature of many of our personal relationships is altering, and more and more of our leisure activities have an online dimension.

5. How will they affect us, our measurement and evaluation of our work while trying to justify our existence to our bosses/clients?
As the conversations around the organisations which employ PR practitioners become more visible in the online world it can be easier, not harder, to monitor sentiment and reputation.

6. How will on line affect private life and what we could call personal branding?
Just as all organisations have an online reputation so do all individuals. The worrying element is the extent to which the online world blurs the public and the private.

7. Are we all going to become addicted to web and social media, and somebody elses's recommendations and opinions there?
Not addicted, no. We wouldn't say we were addicted to face-to-face conversations, would we? At the same time, we may be more aware of what other people are saying and thinking. One way of looking at the change is to understand that people seem to be spending more time doing interactive things online than they do passively watching television. We are doing less watching and more talking, which many would say was a good thing.

8. Are UK companies in general communicating via social media with their publics, and do the have policies for employees regarding social media. In Croatia, many companies still are reluctant on going on social media fearing they might become vulnerable, or endanger their reputation…
I think it is very important that companies do have social media guidelines. Employees need to be reminded about the extent to which their social media activity is public, and the ways in which it might be connected to their employer.

Every organisation I have dealt with has worried about the dangers of social media! The thing to remember is that if they behave badly, or behave well people will talk about them anyway. Customers don't suddenly have a critical stance towards an organisation just because it has an online presence – they have that opinion anyway, but now have an opportunity to express it many more people. Not every organisation needs to have a proactive social media presence – but they do need to be aware that others will be creating an online reputation for them, whether they are involved or not.


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