World Renowned Public Relations Figure Gives Inspirational Talk to Worcester's Business Students

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The key to success in business today is ‘managing perceptions’, according to international Public Relation legend Robert Leaf, who gave a talk to budding business professionals at the University of Worcester earlier this month.

Mr Leaf’s lecture, based on his recently published memoirs ‘The Art of Perception’, saw him share his experiences of his PR career, which has spanned half a century.

He explained to the students: “Public Relations is all about managing perceptions, which are more important than reality. You need to research the perceptions of the audiences you want to reach.”

He discussed the various types of perception and how a communications professional should deal with them, highlighting the essential role of good crisis management and corporate social responsibility.  

He added: “The biggest recent change for PR comes from the expanding world of digital, and social networking. Today no major agency will do a pitch without bringing a digital expert.

“This is why your digital skills and knowledge are important when you apply for jobs, especially in crisis communications – what you can do online can make a significant difference to the company.”

Mr Leaf started his career more than 50 years ago as a trainee at Burson-Marsteller, the global public relations and communications giant. He rose quickly through the ranks of the company, becoming its first international chairman.

In this role, he opened offices throughout the Middle East, Asia, Australia and South America, and brought PR to the Soviet and Chinese governments during the Cold War.

Dayana Todorova, a final-year Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations student at the University, said: “This was an interesting and inspirational talk, particularly beneficial from a graduate perspective, outlining the skills I need to develop. It was really exciting to meet Mr Leaf and hear about his experience in international PR, an area I would like to pursue a career in when I finish with my studies.”

In 2011, Mr Leaf was awarded the first ever Chartered Institute of Public Relations Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Development of International PR. He was also named as one of the greatest minds of the 21st century by the American Biographical Institute.

Mr Leaf is pictured with Marilyn Hunt, Associate Head of Worcester Business School, and Dr Christian Schnee, Senior Lecturer in Public Relations.