Teaching communication skills for a future we do not know
Cardiff University public relations graduate Natalia Bucelnikova is the brainchild behind Future Communications Accelerator (FCA), an innovation new learning and development programme.
I'm joining the programme as a teacher on the five day course from 22 to 26 January in London. I caught up with Natalia to find out about her vision for the programme.
What is the Future Communicators Accelerator (FCA)?
FCA is an interactive, immersive career game changer that will equip and empower delegates with the skills, mentoring and networking opportunities they need to become the future trailblazers of the public relations industry.
Over the course of five days we will help delegates master the three most pressing challenges facing communicators; digital engagement, measurement and evaluation, and their own career development.
We have put together a programme of workshops, keynotes, panel discussions and networking sessions featuring some of the most respected and influential communicators active in the industry today.
Who should attend FCA and what will they get out of it?
The programme is for mid to senior-level public relations and marketing professionals who have the ambition and potential to ascend to leadership roles in the communications industry.
We know that for modern communications professionals it’s almost impossible to balance the demands of the job, their own personal development and the fast pace of the ever-changing digital landscape.
Delegates will leave with a bespoke career plan, the skills required to master the latest technologies and techniques, and as part of an international network set to lead the industry in the future.
The format seems a lot like Hyper Island but applied to Communications. What was your inspiration?
When the startup boom began I entered an accelerator programme in Moscow to help entrepreneurs start up or scale their businesses. The programme was fantastic, with top international professionals and coaches and I loved the format so much I decided to apply it to communications.
Peer to peer support and mentoring are so valuable and I hadn’t heard of anything offering communication s professionals this level of support and guidance. I felt there was a need for education focused not only on trends and best practice, but also on helping people tackle their own personal challenges by sharing and receiving immediate feedback from peers and experts.
You’ve brought together a good mix of agencies, brands and industry names to teach and lead workshops. How did you recruit them all?
Before launching the course I went through all the stages of startup development including talking to communications professionals from around the world about challenges at work and education requirements. I got a lot of interest from professionals around the globe, and they became supporters and early adopters of the programme.
Our partnerships with international agencies, media outlets and consultants around the world helped open doors. I approached many influential communicators via LinkedIn and industry bodies – including yourself, Stephen – and like you they were very open to becoming part of the course.
What is your vision for the future of learning? How do we teach skills when what we do is changing so fast?
We will have to constantly evolve and learn new skills in the same way startups do. As an industry we need to be fast, agile, and open to changing priorities and business models. In the future I would love to develop a virtual reality (VR) app for events, for the people who can’t come to programmes like FCA in London.
Online learning requires lots of motivation but a VR app could help people gain the feeling of being in the room, and benefit from the peer-to-peer element.
Who are you and what’s your story?
I'm the managing director of Buman Media, a Russian-based consultancy I set up in 2009 with clients including Bosch, Adobe, Audi and Volkswagen among others.
I’m also a lifelong lover of learning and since graduating from Cardiff University with an MA in International public relations. I have continued to focus on my own professional development and creating partnerships internationally with public relations agencies and media outlets.
Last year I was on the jury panel of the Sabre Awards, the only representative from Russia.