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My learning and development goals for 2016. What are yours?

The day you stop learning is the day that you should stop professional practice.

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The pace of change in the media and public relations is frenzied. You need to have a positive attitude to learning and development if you want to stay ahead.

Ketchum published a list of 100 digital and social media platform and tool updates from the past 12 months, compiled by the internal community that I lead.

It would be full time job for any one individual to have an expert knowledge in every area of digital or social media practice. This is just one of many areas of modern public relations.

Setting personal goals and matching learning and training activities is a good way to ensure that you stay ahead.

Each of the steps forward that I’ve experienced in my career have been preceded by a period of formal training or coaching. It’s no accident.

I track my profession development via the CIPR’s Continuous Professional Development scheme. It’s not the only way but it’s a good discipline. It’s also a requirement of maintaining Accredited or Chartered Status.

Here are my areas of personal learning and development for 2016 across four areas of leadership, strategy, ethics, and craft.

Leadership

#FuturePRoof policy unit – I’ve stepped back from industry roles in 2016. It’s a deliberate effort to take some time out to focus on personal stuff. But I’ve signed up to chair a policy unity for the ICCO and the PRCA looking at future skills. Expect us to publish a white paper quarterly.

Conferences and events – public speaking is part of my day job at Ketchum. It’s a critical consulting skill, and helps win business. Until very recently I hated it; I simply wasn’t very good. Thanks to coaching with content and delivery, and lots of practice, I’ve got much better, but it will continue to be an area of professional development in 2016.

Develop a pitch for a new book – I’m keen to do another book, possibly a how to guide about an area of practice, or a media platform. Watch this space. In the interim I’m going to lend Sarah Hall a hand with a second edition of #FuturePRoof.

Strategy

Academics and practitioners – as Past President of the CIPR last year I led a conversation between academics and practitioners on the opportunity for a better working relationship. I’m heading to BledCom to run a session with Dr Jon White to continue this work. In the interim I’m using Google Scholar to find research papers relevant to my practice.

Interdisciplinary working – Ketchum’s move to Bankside, London in the UK removes the issue of time and space in working with interdisciplinary teams within the Omnicom group. Three weeks in I’ve sat on the open plan seventh floor with colleagues from advertising, creative, digital and production firms. It feels fresh and an important area to explore in 2016.

New products and services – consulting with my clients about the impact of media change on their ability to engage with publics is my day job. My greatest opportunity for innovation and personal learning is when we have the chance to help develop new products or services. We’re thinking hard about influencers, working with organisations across paid and earned media.

Ethics

Impact of Blockchain on public relations – Bitcoin is failing but I reckon that its legacy will be Blockchain. Here an encrypted ledger of transactions and relationships is shared across a network. It removes a need for hierarchy and trust. I need to learn more and am reading as widely as I can.

Dark web – I’ve worked on numerous projects in the past 12 months that have taken me to previously unexplored areas of the web. Figuring out the opportunity for clients in messaging is the most obvious area of learning and development but also the reputational issues associated with activism. I’d recommend Jamie Bartlett’s book The Dark Net as a good primer.

Craft

Podcasting – audio is a beautiful form of media. Done well, content producers have the opportunity to develop an intimate relationship with their audience. I’ve made various attempts to personally crack audio but never really succeeded. I’m keen to have another go in 2016.

Instagram – my youngest daughter is an inspiration on Instagram. She understands the importance of good production and community management. Photos are carefully edited and then dropped into the community to engage the optimal audience. She’s created a public of her own. I want to get better at this visual form of communication in 2016.

I blog for numerous reasons. Top of the list is being able to think out loud and share ideas with you, my community. It’s a powerful way of learning. You’re quick to share your ideas, and lend support whenever I ask for help. Thank you.

You’ve seen my learning and development goals for 2016. What do yours look like?

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Stephen Waddington

Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University.

26 Comments

  1. Inspiring as ever

    Just wonder if there is anything outside the field of PR & Comms you would add to the list – say learning Northumbrian bagpipes for example?

  2. Great post,as always. Very disappointed that Hopwood et al (Eds) ‘Sport Public Relations and Communication’ isn’t in the pile of books in your pic ;)

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