Regional Public Relations Conference PROACTIVE 2022

Education and lifelong learning as the basis

of the future of Public Relations

May 2022, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The role and responsibility of PR practice in the future are to initiate and influence changes and act towards social changes. Education of communication professionals that must be aligned with digital transformation, employer branding, the responsibility of the profession for populism and populism in political communication, cooperation with the media, traditional and new, media ownership, and numerous other topics were the focus of the Regional Public Relations Conference PROACTIVE 2022 held in Jahorina from May 27 to 28, 2022. Innovative topics and presentations by prominent international PR theoreticians and practitioners pushed the boundaries at this year’s PROACTIVE 2022. They set even higher standards in presenting the latest knowledge and experiences from modern practice and theory of public relations. We will try to move them again at the next PROACTIVE conference in May 2023 because education and passing on knowledge and experiences is one of the most critical missions of the PROACTIVE Club – next to selfless professional and collegial support, but also nurturing new and old friendships that have lasted for decades.

Kudos to the PROACTIVE Club members and all colleagues and friends who made it possible: Dobrila Močević, Dragan Močević, Peđa Ašanin Gole, prof. Dr. Dejan Verčić, Miloš Đajić, Drenislav Žekić, Miloš Čirič, Dr. Dragana Đermanović, Vojislav Žanetić, Vladimir Vulić, prof. Dr. Danijela Lalić, Ivan Ćosić, prof. Dr. Ana Tkalac Verčič, Assoc. Dr. Damir Jugo, prof. Dr. Žaneta Trajkoska, prof. Dr. Alenka Jelen, Dr. Nela Kamarčik, Prof. Dr. Asim Mujkić.

Almost 20 years ago, I was honored to be the first program director of the educational conference on public relations PROACTIVE, which gathered distinguished PR practitioners and professional communicators from the entire Region for the first time. That’s why I accepted the duty of being the program director of this oldest and already traditional Regional Conference for Public Relations again with great pleasure. Like the first one, PROACTIVE 2022 gathered the most respected communication and business experts from Southeastern Europe countriesSlovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and North Macedonia for three days. During excellent presentations and interesting discussions, we analyzed the problems and the impact of dramatic changes in the communication industry and tried to define new communication paradigms of strategic communication.

We are aware that we live in a divided world of unrest, poverty and repression, danger and division, hatred and war, and a world of hope and discovery, endless opportunities and possibilities. We are aware that in the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and war, states, institutions, corporations, and brands find it increasingly difficult to preserve their reputation and quality communication.

The intensity of the crises we face today exceeds all previous experiences of PR practitioners. As Emerson wrote long ago: “This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.” Therefore, raising ethical and professional standards for PR professionals is a more significant challenge today than ever. This challenge requires us to carry ethics into our daily lives and use its invaluable influence to gain the trust and respect of our clients in the face of entirely new and different challenges. This challenge requires us to convey the principle of good and fair competition through our business and the determination and courage that build the core of success. We must be aware of our essential social role – be a certain social corrective that certainly impacts society. As caring teachers and mentors, we, PR veterans, must selflessly exchange and share our knowledge and experience with our colleagues, especially the younger ones. And the process is often reversible, so the freshness and creativity of young minds, their new knowledge, and youthful enthusiasm are contagiously transferred to the mentor and strengthened and refined him.

Conference participants from the entire region discussed the most current topics for the communication profession and the whole society. They concluded that public relations must improve their reputation and regain the authority to deal with their obligations successfully, recognize social problems, and initiate processes of social change for the better. Data show we have seven PR professionals to one person in traditional media today. Cooperation with traditional media must be improved to benefit everyone and include new media forms and people, such as influencers. We must win the media back as partners, especially in the context of public advocacy.

The economy of attention in the time of hyperproduction of content insists that more than ever, we deal with what is essential for our organizations and us as individuals to make our content more visible, understandable, and of better quality, but above all, more meaningful and everything we do more purposeful. PR professionals must use Fact-checking as a tool and advocate for its introduction into the education system through media, digital and scientific literacy subjects. Alternatives that oppose the current government are worse because they are based on populism and demagoguery, and one of the problems is that most politicians are “analog.” Conversely, we have new “digital” generations of voters. PR has become part of the problem, as said at the panel discussion of regional experts on politicism in political communication.

“It is equally important to do things good or to do good things. That is why the oldest regional educational conference, PROACTIVE, continues bringing distinguished communication experts from the entire region. It is our responsibility to restore the reputation of the profession we work and love”, said members of the PROACTIVE Club.

“We live in a post-literary society with no authorities, and the influence of science is decreasing. “Hyper-globalization, hyper-complexity, hyper-modernity, hyper-narcissism, hyper-democracy, hyper-consumption has created a hyper-everything society in which everyone searches for all their knowledge on the Internet,” said Prof. Dr. Dejan Verčić, Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Ljubljana / Herman & Partners, Slovenia.

“Our politics is sloppy, and the social reality rests on consumerism, populism, hyperglobalism, and other isms,” said Prof. Dr. Voja Žanetić, Faculty of Media and Communications, Belgrade, Serbia, in his lecture “Politics is communication and what else?”

“PR professionals must assume their role and responsibility in employer branding because it rests on high-quality internal communication,” said prof. Dr. Ana Tkalec Verčić, Faculty of Economics, University of Zagreb, Croatia, through her lecture “Internal communication and employer branding: we know everything, but we know nothing.”

“In the future, most jobs will be done faster, better, and easier by robots, but the jobs that require creativity and critical thinking are the ones that robots will never be able to replace,” said Dr. Dragana Đermanović, Pepper Consulting Group, Novi Sad, Serbia in her lecture “From PR to comprehensive corporate development. “

“The intensity of the crises we are facing today exceeds all previous experiences of PR practitioners. In the new circumstances, states, institutions, corporations, and brands find preserving reputation and quality communication increasingly difficult. The mission of raising ethical and professional standards is more important than ever, ” stated Ksenija Renko, Jupiter Strategic Consulting, Zagreb, Croatia.

JUPITER is an agency for Strategic Communications and Communication Management

JUPITER is a member of EURACSIS, a European network of professional conference organizers and communication agencies across the European Union