This afternoon I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with a great group of communications and PR professionals from the voluntary and community sector. Representing a wide range of charities and third sector organisations, these highly motivated and committed individuals were brought together by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Northern Ireland for an afternoon of networking, alongside a valuable Q&A session with BBC NI’s Tara Mills for an insight into #VCScommsNI.
The sell-out event was the brainchild of my CIPR NI committee colleagues, Leanne Reilly and Sharon Whittaker, who, having joined the CIPR NI committee this year, are keen to bring issues facing communications and PR professionals working in the voluntary and community sector to the fore.
Aside from fulfilling my duties as the CIPR’s social media officer and live tweeting from the event, I had a genuine interest in the subject matter; we have a number of high profile charity clients at MCE and we face many of the same challenges faced by our peers in the room today. No matter how worthy your story, vying for space and making your story stand out in a crowded charity market can be challenging and requires a particular skill set and contact book.
Networking and sharing experiences with peers has been immensely useful to me personally and professionally over the years and this afternoon’s event was a great example of that collaboration in practice. After brief introductions, the event began with a speed networking session, which encouraged participants to share their experience and tips with each other.
This was followed by a lively Q&A, with BBC NI’s Tara Mills taking questions from the floor. The frank and open exchange led to a lot of very useful advice and tips being shared on how, when and where to pitch a story. You can follow some of the feedback on the CIPR NI twitter feed.
We have a small but vibrant PR and communications industry in Northern Ireland and by working together we can become so much stronger. The voluntary and community sector represents a large proportion of our industry in this region and through today’s event, Leanne and Sharon, along with our CIPR NI chair, Chris Love, provided a real insight into the ways that CIPR NI membership can aid and assist the promotion of professionalism, as well as the development of individuals and teams working in communications/PR in the third sector. I hope more of our peers in this sector will come forward and engage with CIPR NI, for the benefit of the industry as a whole.
Well done to Leanne and Sharon for a great event – I look forward to the next one!