About two months ago, I was packing to make my annual trip to Switzerland. Each year, in March, the World Communication Forum (WCF) gathers some of the brightest minds of the global #PR & #Communications industry be in the Swiss Alps in #Davos or by Lake Leman, in #Geneva, the #Forum is a powerful magnet to attract like-minded professinals aspiring for a better world.
Why the #WCF is one of the most cherished events by the global PR community? I think the answer is quite simple: it is a friends' meeting point which happens to be also a melting pot of best practices and trends' forecaster for the global PR industry. That is, while friends meet for a first time or have the pleasure to encounter again, solid friendships are being built over the years, I can tell by my personal experience. Those friends happen to be very determined, hard-workers and knowledgable people in their areas of expertise. At the WCF, I have met some of the most competent PR professionals I know to-date.
In 2017, the 8th edition of this amazing Forum took place in the "Centre International De Conference de Geneve (CICG)" and lasted for a full week. This year, for the first time, the #WCFGenevaWeek started on Monday March 13th and carried on with exciting activities until Friday March 17th.
From the main sessions during WCF Geneva Week, I have five key learnings (please read, future trends which will rock our world!) that will certainly be heard more and more in the coming months.
1) Deep Learning + Big Data + Robotics + Artificial Intelligence (AI) = Technology Will Continue To Change Our Way Of Living But Impacts To Come Might Be Bigger Than Ever.
What is going on with AI? (Keynote by Scott Fahlman)
Societies will need to reinvent itself and jobs will be extincted. Science-fiction movies can only illustrate a bit of what is to come and that will happen much sooner than we can expect. That should read, in the next five to ten years. If the internet revolution took companies worldwide by strike and the internet of things made many industries reinvent themselves, what is to come will be farer more impactful.
Scott Fahlman is a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University. He is notable for early work on automated planning in a blocks world, on semantic networks, on neural networks, on the Dylan programming language, and on Common Lisp. He is known as the father of the emoji emoticon. His speech at the WCF 2017 was as always enlightening about what we can expect and how AI can be one of the next big revolutions in modern society. One of the main reflections was which kind of jobs AI will never take and which ones will soon disappear.
2) The Evolution of Communication With AI and VR (Keynote by Naomi Assaraf). Naomi is CMO and co-founder of cloudHQ (USA). She is an expert in VR and explained in very easy-to-understand terms what can be expected in the short and medium-term for VR and how it will change the way marketing and communications is executed around the world. In the long-run, it is not easy to determine how VR will impact the way humans live. The VR equipment prices are already dropping very quickly, some of the most basic ones are as low as a couple dozen euros. The use and comsumptions of VR applications will grow exponeantilly in the next five to ten years and we, PR professionals, need to anticipate it and be prepared with the right set of skills.
In between sessions, the WCF offers an unique opportunity to bond with like-minded individuals in an intimate environment which facilitates connections to be made in the professional and personal lives. Actually, relationships made at WCF, usually become a well-balanced mix of both worlds.
In the photo above, Maria Ashiquin (Malaysia) with myself posing in front of the amazing Scribble done during the WCF Geneva Week 2017. Maria is not only a very good friend but also a globe-trotter having visited more than 40 countries and a expert in Political Communications. She is now doing a PhD in Switzerland where she spreads her charm & vibrant way of living allied with a perception to detail and elevated intelligence. One to look!
3) Communication Can Help Save Lives - and the duty of communication professionals in the current times
Fire-side chat: Why the world needs to care about South Sudan? Implications for the region. How should we communicate such crises to donors and influencers?
Chat leader:Michael Bociurkiw, Journalist, writer and development professional, former spokesperson for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and UNICEF, TEDx speaker (Canada)
December 2016 marked three years since the start of a deadly civil war in South Sudan - the world's youngest nation. Tens of thousands have died (including at least 2000 children), and millions displaced. As in most conflicts and disasters, children are taking the brunt of the consequences. UNICEF reports 17,000 children have been forcibly recruited as child soldiers: 1,300 in 2016 alone. Incredibly, some get re-recruited, even after being placed into safe havens.
Having worked in emergencies such as Gaza, N. Nigeria and E. Ukraine, Michael described what is happening in South Sudan as "the forgotten children's catastrophe". Sadly, things are projected to get worse before they get better - with some regions nearing the brink of famine. During this sessions, it was discussed how communication can help save lives and how we, as communication professionals, can get involved and contribute with our skills and network to draw attention to these very important conflicts and the consequences it brings to the civil society.
4) Communication For Future - C4F Awards and WCFA Book Launch Eventat the Prestigious Beau-Rivage Hotel in Geneva
The organizers received 86 applications altogether, in all 23 categories. Among the nominees there are representatives from 30 countries on 5 continents. Companies and individuals, who represent the best of the cases, were announced as winners at the Gala ceremony on 14 March.
Grand Davos Award - went to Fran Bidderman, CEO and Strategista of Advantages Inc (USA) and David Gallagher, President Omnicon PR Group (UK).
Titan of the Future - was granted to Dr. Kara Alaimo, Asst Professor of Public Relations, Hofstra University (USA).
Relations of the Future - Catherine Hernandez-Blades, Senior VP, Corporate Comms Aflac (USA).
Evangelist of the Future - Adebola Williams, Founding Partner Red Media, (Nigeria) and Eduardo Vieira, Founder Ideal Group (Brazil).
Talent of the Future - Assel Kozhakova, Founder Red Point Khazakhstan LLP, (Khazakhstan).
Leader of the Future - Ganesh AC, Founder ACG Consultancy (India) and
Eduardo Vieira, Founder Ideal Group (Brazil).
Idea of the Future:Deerak Solutions (India)
Technology of the Future:ACG Consulting (India)
Education of the Future: CROS, Russia, & KETCHUM - SVIZERRA, Italy
City of the Future: Amazing Villach, Austria
Trust of the Future: Pro Zorro, Ukraine
Pro Bono of the Future: Spring PR, Armenia
Community of the Future: Sound PR, Italy
Reputation of the Future: SPN Communications, Russia
Communications of the Future: KETCHUM - ESTRA, Italy
Creative of the Future: TCS, Europe
Anti Crisis of the Future: KETCHUM - SVIZERRA, Italy
Value of the Future: KETCHUM - PRADA, Italy
Employee Communications of the Future: SAP, Germany
Branding of the Future: SPN Communications, Russia
On the same prestigious night, the book "World Communication Forum - The History and Story - how to create a global community and influence the whole world" was launched and received with enthusiasm by selected audience who had the chance to get an autograph by many of the present authors. The book is a compilation of articles organised by Yanina Dubeykovskaya and contains pieces written by Alexander Anisimov (Russia), Andre Manning (Netherlands), Andrea Cornelli (Italy), Flavio Oliveira (myself, Brazil), Irina Bakhtina (Russia), Jon-Hans Coezer, Kara Alaimo (USA), Nurul Shamsuri (Malaysia), Roma Balwani (India), Scott Fahlman (USA), Tanuja Kehar (India).
5) The Forum is going beyond a once per year gathering. The WCF expands with an Association. Yanina Dubeykovskaya, WCFDavos General Director, President of the WCFA in Switzerland, always believed that only by building a global community of PR & Communications professionals united with a common goal of developing our industry that we would be able to do so.
She has done that. She built a global community which enlarges as we speak and each of its members has, just as McLuhan predicted, access to their global peers as if they were in a village - however, it is actually at a click of a mouse distance. We are connected worldwide. Thanks to Yanina and those that believe in her, the World Communication Forum Association is positioning itself to safe-guard the global PR & Communications' industry by connecting professionals and s Our family is growing in numbers, influence and importance. Looking forward to see what we will be achieving together. Long Life To The #WCFamily!
These were the main takeaways from the WCF Geneva Week 2017. Hope you have enjoyed the reading. Keep posted about the WCF & WCFA events and new developments by following us on social at: Facebook page of WCF, Facebook of the WCFA and Twitter accounts.
Technology will surprise us in a way we cannot even imagine.