Iran’s 10th International Conference on Public Relations

Iranian Public Relations News Network(shara) Iran’s tenth international conference on public relations with focus on “integrated public relations” was held on January 13 and 14 in Tehran. The conference, whose motto was “communications, participation and hope” kicked off with a minute of silence in honor of Professor Kazem Motamednejad, the pioneer of communications in Iran, who passed away late last year.

At the inauguration ceremony, Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati was awarded a high distinction as cultural ambassador. Professor Saeed Reza Ameli, who teaches communications at University of Tehran, was awarded Dr Hamid Notqi Prize while Hassan Rabiei, public relations manager of Endowment and Charity Affairs Organization received Public Relations Medal.

On the sidelines of the conference, an exhibition was held to showcase the achievements of public relations.



At the opening ceremony, Mehdi Baqerian, secretary of the Tenth International Conference on Public Relations, welcomed the guests and faculty members of the audience asked for a minute of silence in honor of respected professor of communications Professor Motamednejad.

He then pointed to the end of the first international conference Motamednejad Professor of Public Relations in 2004 , said at the ceremony: “Professor Motamednejad addressed the following message to the conference organizers: "You’ve been the first to introduce the world to see the positive aspects of Iran . Even Foreign Ministry did not do it. You accomplished a mission, which took ten years, in one year.”

Baqerian said the conferences on public relations resulted in training courses for public relations managers overseas.

“Unfortunately, the books printed in Iran about history of public relations make no reference to the prominent role of private institutes and organs regarding public relations. Over the past ten years, these were private institutes that paved the way for the growth and progress of public relations in Iran through their activities,” he said.

Baqerian said the tenth conference is for the first time holding video conferences.

Mohammad-Mehdi Mazaheri, chairman of the conference, said the motto of integrated public relations indicates the significance of role of public relations in creating cohesion within a body and more generally in the society. He said integrated public relations are aimed at making the necessary planning to meet public needs.

“Integrated public relations set the roadmap for the strategic plans of an organization, which could help an organization realize its objectives through confidence-building, effective messages and existing tools,” said Mazaheri.

“Undoubtedly, this conference is needed to determine the identity of dialogue and interaction although restrictions may not allow full accomplishment of objectives. This conference, as the biggest event in the country on public relations, requires more cooperation and efforts between public relations managers and practitioners,” he added.

Jannati started his speech with tributes to Professor Motamednejad, describing him as a hardworking teacher.

“It’s a common knowledge that institutionalizing new disciplines is very difficult and always faces resistance. But he institutionalized the fundamental science of public relations in Iran and sought to write and translate many books on public relations. He deserves the title of father of communications in Iran,” he said.

Jannati said there is no halt in cultural activities, calling on public relations practitioners to offer new approaches for integrated public relations. The minister added that integrated public relations must offer a collection of cohesive and coordinated processes and activities with a view to achieving a common objective.

The minister complained that public relations offices have turned into newsrooms with the objective of guaranteeing survival of political officials in the relevant organization.

“In this case, the principles of journalism are undermined and moral principles are trampled upon due to resort to falsehoods, lies and flattering,” he said.

Jannati said political organizations often take advantage of public relations to bolster their political ranking.

He said public relations offices are acting like institutes promoting films and other audiovisual works.

Jannati expressed regret that public relations offices have become “propaganda room” in some organizations, saying they resort to unprofessional methods.




Most Social Period in History

Professor Saeed Reza Aemli said integrated public relations are among strategies which first emerged in marketing, adding that this sector is also known as integrated marketing relationship.

Ameli referred to transition from Web 1 to Web 5, which has led to the creation of integrated web.

“We are living in the most social period of human history. The significance of interaction based on material-spiritual, real-virtual, subjective-objective, image-representation frameworks,” he said.


World Intertwined with Social Media

Krishnan Srivanasan, founder of Prime Point in India, delivered his presentation to the conference through videoconference.

He said social networks have grown popular in the world, adding that they are on the rise.

Srivanasan said the world is interviewed with social media and that is why Internet is available in the farthest spots in the world.

He said social networks are sharing 500 million articles a day, exchanging 300 million emails a day and uploading 250 photos a day.

Srivanasan said social networks are used in media communications, news agencies, blogging and videoconferences for easier communications.

He, however, warned that Internet and virtual space is like a “double-blade weapon” which could have both advantages and disadvantages.

He noted that digital media are likely to damage the reputation of an organization, saying the Internet and social networks have to be understood correctly before any further action is taken.

Srivanasan also referred to the viral impact of social media, saying the advantage with social networks is that one can easily communicate across the globe, no matter the distance.

For this reason, he said, social media is required to be integrated into public relations.


Branding, Public Relations Interlinked

Shahryar Shafiei, who is a marketing and branding expert, said brands and public relations have been integrated to the extent that it has become difficult to demarcate.

He said public relations and communications are expected to attract public opinion into market and brand integration.

“Brands are not qualitative alone and they are identities based on values. The brands create character and identity for you and you communicate with them emotionally. To that effect, public relations play a serious role. Branding is like public relations because both do not present their commodity directly,” said Shafiei.

He referred to new methods of branding and public relations, saying: “Some organizations have not modernized their organizational approach and they have only changed their communications methods in which their audience has no say. But in the new approach, the audience is entitled to speak and feedback depends on what is received. In new methods, we have moved from one-sided to bilateral space.”

“When we talk about brands, we do not specifically talk about the quality of a single product, but we talk about culture, value and meaning,” he said.


PRs Needed in Social Media

Ali Akbar Jalali, father of IT in Iran, said on the second day of the conference that public relations have to find their place in social networks and be assessed there.

“One part of virtual space is knowledge which can help us draw a roadmap. Therefore, we need first to create the necessary orientations and policies,” he said.

“I don’t believe that the principles of public relations must change, but we have to use these tools to transfer our knowledge more easily and more quickly. We have to find a space in social networks for ourselves and influence the entire network,” said Jalali, who is professor at Iran University of Science and Technology.

“Due to the existence of virtual space, we have to identify the weaknesses and strengths of public relations, draw up strategic plans and define our framework based on standards. Moreover, we have such tools as retrieval of human resources based on new knowledge, standardization based on new software, updated projects as well as step-by-step advancement of programs,” he said.


No Obstacle to Social Media

Deirdre K. Breakenridge, Chief Executive Officer at Pure Performance Communications, also joined the conference on Skype from the United States.

In her detailed presentation, she said that social media provide the best tool for achieving integrated public relations.

She said integrated public relations affect sales, marketing, customer services and human resources in an organization.

In the power point she presented to the conference, she briefly talked about eight practices she has discussed in her book.

Breakenbridge underscored the need for understanding of social networks with a view to realizing objectives defined for the organization.

She noted that nothing can stand on the way of using social media, but people themselves.


PR Effective Tool in Text Mining

Sirous Dehqan, senior IT expert specializing in intelligent communications systems, said public relations will become an instrumental tool in text mining in the future.

“At present and in the near future, public relations and marketing will constitute a big segment of tasks assigned to users of text mining. By using the text mining science, public relations will be able to analyze customer relationship management systems and benefit from the result of their analyses for upgrading the status of their organization,” he said.

Dehqan said more than 72 hours of films are uploaded in YouTube every minute while more than 121,000 twits are exchanged every minute. Facebook experiences 695,000 posts and Google sees more than 694,000 searches per minute.

He said text mining is an instrumental method as most data on internet are in the form of text.

Text mining, also referred to as text data mining, roughly equivalent to text analytics, refers to the process of deriving high-quality information from text. High-quality information is typically derived through the devising of patterns and trends through means such as statistical pattern learning. Text mining usually involves the process of structuring the input text (usually parsing, along with the addition of some derived linguistic features and the removal of others, and subsequent insertion into a database), deriving patterns within the structured data, and finally evaluation and interpretation of the output. 'High quality' in text mining usually refers to some combination of relevance, novelty, and interestingness. Typical text mining tasks include text categorization, text clustering, concept/entity extraction, production of granular taxonomies, sentiment analysis, document summarization, and entity relation modeling (i.e., learning relations between named entities).


Promotion as Necessary as Defense

Mahmoud Mohammadian, professor of Allameh Tabatabaei University, said promotion and branding is as necessary as defense policies.

“When we talk about integrated promotion and branding we mean that a single voice must come out of an organization, a single image must be created and a single strategy must be worked out. The messages heard from an organization should not contradict one another. In the world, we are bombarded with different messages and we are living in a world where people are eclipsed by communications. In the face of myriads messages, people are paying less attention,” he said.

Mohammadian said the society is experiencing a competitive atmosphere which needs promotion so that everything will stick in the minds of the audience.

He noted that successful companies always pay attention to customer relationship and they do not confine themselves to inside the organization.

“As far as marketing is concerned, we believe that budget allocation for promotion is as necessary as budget allocation for defense purposes and this promotion and branding will stabilize the country and grant it fame. Therefore, we can say that good promotion is a kind of investment,” he said.

“We need to be honest with our audience in promotions. Realities must be reflected. When intelligence and promotion are interlinked, a message will be transmitted, which all people will accept,” he said.


Panel Discussion

 A panel discussion was also held on the first day of the conference. The discussions were focused on integrated public relations.

Hadi Khaniki, head of the Iranian Association of Cultural Studies and Communications, Reza Naqib as-Sadat, professor at Allameh Tabatabaei University, Omid Ali Masoudi, professor at Soureh University, Hadi Kamarei, head of the Association of Public Relations Specialists and Rahman Saeedi, professor of communications at Allameh Tabatabaei University, exchanged views in the panel discussion.

“Integrated public relations imply communications between public relations, promotion, marketing, social networking and a kind of interactive communications,” he said.

Integrated public relations constitute a process or procedure whose language is multifaceted and relies on communications and language, he added.

Saeedi said: “Public relations serve organizations. If we can bring harmony between people and tools in an organization, we will be benefiting from potentials in the best way to reach our goals. The value of public relations is to respect the dignity.”

“Such conferences are aimed at updating scientific achievements and catching up with the world. But we have to keep in mind that we should not forget our identity. As we get familiar with the world achievements we have to have enough knowledge of our own culture and identity; otherwise, we will not be able to correctly use our scientific achievements,” he added.

Kamarei said all messages have to become clear for public relations to become influential.

“In the issue of integrated public relations, the important thing is the presence of media in virtual networks. Public relations must revise themselves regularly and manage their affairs in an integrated manner. We have to catch up with the world developments so that we would not get stuck in the present time,” he said.

Naqib as-Sadat said promotion and advertising necessitate requirements which require need assessment.

He said that management of advertising is a significant factor which will be instrumental in the management of frameworks within and outside the organization.

Other aspects, he added, are the content, advertising, the audience’s view and the characteristics as well as effects.

For his part, Masoudi said integrated public relations imply coordination between factors, phenomena and contents in the light of a single objective.

“For instance, to have an Islamic city, we must use Islamic architecture. Therefore, integration of public relations and its output occur in the communications. Identify is created in a cultural place,” he added.

Masoudi said when objectives are defined clearly, integration will prove more effective.

Hossein Bashri, secretary of the scientific committee of the conference, said: “We have to identify ourselves so that we will know our own weaknesses and strengths and explore our own position. We have to offer a definition of ethics in public relations in our organizations and make self-assessment. This is the most important message.”



 Dr Bashir said understanding communications is the first step towards benefiting from public relations.

“As long as we do not have a clear understanding of communications we will not be able to use public relations correctly. Social networks set the basis of public relations because of their expansion,” he said.

Basher said public relations expose everything and “we have to develop our own brand” about everything “so that we will be able to live in the real and virtual spaces.”

“Living in the virtual space should not halt our progress in the real life and vice versa,” he said.

Bashir echoed the warning that Internet is a “double-edge weapon”, saying all challenges are needed to be identified correctly.

“Boosting collective morale is the main objective of integrated public relations. In the meantime, we should not underestimate the important role of education and professional workshops. Therefore, these conferences are aimed at restoration of rights for creating discourse.”


Professor Ameli Receives Dr Notqi Award

 Saeed Reza Ameli, professor of communications at University of Tehran, was awarded with an international prize named after the pioneer of public relations in Iran.

Ameli received the award for his scientific and research efforts in the field of communications and public relations.

Ameli, who teaches at the Faculty of Social Sciences of University of Tehran, is affiliated with the Group of Americas Studies of the Faculty of World Studies. He is also head of the Scientific Association of World Studies. Besides teaching in different bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. levels, he has authored 18 books in Persian and 16 books in English. He has also published hundreds of articles in Persian, English, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic. His last work, entitled “Two-Space Public Relations: Concepts, Theories and Action Plan” is under publication.

Currently, Ameli is vice-chancellor of University of Tehran for planning and information technology. He is also a member of Board of Trustees of the Islamic Human Rights Commission in London as well as the London-based International Committee of World Studies. His other positions include membership of the Research Council of the Research Center for Cultural and Social Studies of Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, head of Association of World Studies at University of Tehran, director of World Studies Periodical, member of the Supreme Council for Supervision on Tehran Urban Development, member of the ad hoc committee for communications and media in the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology.

He is the founder and member of Board of Trustees of the Islamic College of Advanced Studies in London, founder and director of Islamic Studies Institute in London, founder and head of the Institute for North America-Europe Studies at University of Tehran, member of research team on American and Canadian studies at University of Birmingham, editor in Globalization Research Magazine and Encyclopedia of Social Sciences, founder of the Faculty of World Studies, chief editor of Iran Cultural Research periodical, member of coordinating council of international seminar on advancement of science and technology in the Muslim world and head of the Research Center for Virtual Policies at the Faculty of World Studies of the University of Tehran.


Dr Notqi Award

 Kargozar Public Relations Institute founded Dr Hamid Notqi award in 2004 at national and international levels. Four people have so far received the prize:

 Professor Kazem Motamednejad, founder of modern communications in Iran (2004)

Professor James Grunig from the Department of Communication at the University of Maryland (2005)

Professor Ali Akbar Jalali, father of IT in Iran (2009)

Professor Ali Akbar Farhangi, father of media management in Iran (2012)


Quarterly Published

 The 31st “Public Relations Practitioner” quarterly was published during the tenth conference.

The quarterly’s content focuses on the conference and explains the reasons for which Iran’s culture minister was awarded the high cultural distinction.

The editorial in the quarterly has been written by Mohammad-Mehdi Mazaheri, present of the conference. He notes that management of integrated public relations is nothing more than full coordination between all elements of public relations. He draws a parallel between integrated public relations and a symphonic orchestra.

For Mazaheri, the public relations director is like the conductor in an orchestra.

A summary of the lecture presented by Deirdre K. Breakenridge, Chief Executive Officer at Pure Performance Communications is also available in the quarterly.

Jalali’s article about integrated tools of communications for management of public relations knowledge is also in the magazine which also includes interviews with Dr Bashir and Mr Rabiei.

Articles are also from Hadi Kamarei, Hossein Bayat, Vahid Rahmati Roudsari, Hadi Mir-Baqeri, Reza Assadi, Qorbanali Tangshir, Abolfazl Mohammadkhani, Mehdi Aziziha, Somayeh Miri and Ali-Reza Peyghambardoust about integration of public relations.

The chief editor of the magazine is Mehdi Baqerian.