PR practitioners need to keep up with industry trends, which involve looking to the future. But how far ahead should we be looking? Prof. David McKie suggests in his conference presentation titled ‘looking ahead locally and globally: environmental scanning, futures and trends’, that leadership is the domain of the future. Therefore, informed foresight should be part of the “new normal” in our organisational planning.
What is the value of looking ahead?
To be as prepared as possible. In a time of Black Swan events when trillion can become the new billion in a matter of weeks, conventional planning alone is not enough and stretch visions of the future should be part of the “new normal.”
What is the benefit of future forecasting?
To entertain ideas about really good and really bad futures and the associated opportunities and risks. This involves feelings as part of practical preparation. Shell used future forecasting to prepare emotionally as well as materially for the shock oil price rise in the 1970s. Accordingly, when the crisis happened, they outperformed the other oil giants and transformed their company’s position.
Does future forecasting research focus specifically on the public relations environment or is it broader?
It must be broader. Communication planning needs to be in sync with strategy and both need to be adept at reading the signs of the times.
Which organisations or sectors are successfully researching the future?
Unfortunately, I think education is very poor. The high-tech sector does good work as it constantly seeks future-proofing along with the CIA and the US military. Unfortunately not much of that research is publicly available but there are not-for-profit organizations who do excellent work and who do make it available.
The number of ‘essential tools’ in the public relations toolkit is growing constantly. Should future forecasting be prioritised?
The future is the domain of leadership. If PR seeks to lead then it needs to forge imaginative and informed narratives of what lies ahead. End of story.
What other areas are you looking into at the moment?
I’m co-writing on a book on the evolution of public relations in Israel, co-organising an international PR conference in Barcelona in July, and researching my next book that I hope will become the successor to Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence
What are you looking forward to at Conference 2012?
To participate in “community” evolution with old friends and new faces through exciting conversations. As we reconfigure who we are in the face of transformational change, the “our place, our space” theme is right on the money.
This year’s PRINZ Conference offers a line-up of local and international speakers, including Prof. David McKie who will present case studies, research and insights to help you address a changing world as communities reshape.
About Prof. David McKie
Dr David McKie is Professor of Management Communication atWaikatoManagementSchool. He has published, or co-published five books, over 25 book chapters and over 50 refereed journal articles and is CEO of his international consulting firm RAM (Results by Action Management).