Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The PRCA Gateway Conference: The Future of Communications after Leveson

Being a PR apprentice certainly does have its benefits, and I experienced this on Thursday when I attended the PRCA conference after kindly being given a ticket. With the event being sponsored by YouGov, I was confident that it was going to be a worthwhile experience and it certainly didn’t disappoint
With YouGov statistics showing that the majority of the public think that there should be a new press regulation system but that MPs shouldn’t be involved; it is clear that something needs to be done to resolve the press regulation issue and to help alleviate some of the pressure from the public. Since the Leveson Report was released there has been a sweep of silence across the media landscape suggesting that no one has a quick and easy solution.

Lord Black from the Telegraph Media Group was up first with some interesting views on the future beyond Leveson. Being strongly opinionated myself and enjoying the ability to express my views, I couldn’t agree more with the point he made that if  a state regulation system was instated that the consequences would fundamentally damage free press and ultimately freedom of speech.

Half an hour into the conference, the subject of social media has already popped its head up, unsurprisingly.  Having been born into the digital world, I am obviously very familiar with social media like many people my age and younger. If regulation and censorship was to be used for social media, I would love to see the law attempt to arrest half of the country for tweeting on a controversial topic – I am pretty sure the prisons wouldn’t have enough room to store everyone who has written a tweet with a hint of defamation!

Trevor Morris from the University of Westminster also gave some insightful opinions, ultimately stating that state regulation would result in the downwards spiral of traditional print media where newspapers end up lacking impact, advertising and consequently readership. This presentation also covered the eternal boundary blurring between advertising and PR and how this can be translated into social media – is a tweet PR or advertising?

A presentation that really stuck with me was Neil Midgley’s on why Leveson couldn’t take on Twitter. Being brought up surrounded by social media has resulted in a fascination with it; it intrigues me how brands can communicate with the public in minutes whereas a letter of complaint can take months to finally get a response. It does seem ludicrous that people can be arrested for tweeting but I do understand that justice has to apply to social media platforms otherwise there would be constant anarchy on the internet.

After absorbing the different views, I personally find it hard to see how traditional print media will continue to exist in a world where journalists become fearful to enquire and take risks if state regulation is instated. The insatiable hunger for gossip that society has will no longer be filled and the need for printed newspapers will begin to disappear as they become filled with mind-numbing, repetitive stories…

Jessica KirbyPR Apprentice at Cirkle

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