Last July, I attended my second International Public Relations Research Symposium or better known as BledCom. Located in Bled, Slovenia, the symposium is a fairly small and intimate experience with speakers from around the world. This year’s conference theme was “Sleeping (with the) media,” an intriguing idea explored from various national and theoretical approaches.
BledCom takes a traditional approach—two keynotes with speakers talking on the theme—and then two parallel paper sessions with 3-4 speakers and then discussion. A first, however, was the addition of a joint session, “Bled welcomes Miami: The International Public Relations Research Conference at the BledCom Symposium,” where four roundtable discussions were led by Donald K. Wright (Boston University), David Dozier (San Diego State University), Shannon Bowen (University of South Carolina), and Julie O’Neil (Texas Christian University) whose presentations were selected by the IPRRC Board as having content that would interest Symposium participants. Response was positive and BledCom and IPRRC are planning another session in 2016. What I appreciated most about participating in the Symposium was the smaller size and differing view on such things as media relations, ethics (one presentation focused on spokesperson honesty), corporate social responsibility, and theme-related presentations. The Institute for Public Relations was well-represented, with both North American and European trustees participating.
The BledCom experience (including the scenic location in the 1,000 year old Bled situated with a lake, castle, and church on an island) provided a different perspective on public relations, corporate communication, and our role with the media. It was an experience that academics and professionals should look into. After all, what’s better than Slovenia in July?
Don Stacks, Ph.D., is a professor at the University of Miami and a Trustee for the Institute for Public Relations.