Cyber security expenses could soar to as high as $6 trillion annually by 2021, according to Cybersecurity Ventures.

Piers Schreiber, managing director, Estragon, U.K., described the numerous types of “cyber crimes” that afflict the Internet to an audience of 150 at the Global PR Summit in New York June 9-10, saying the damage is “huge” and growing.

Global PR Summit
Global PR Summit

Choosing a spokesperson who understands the technical issues is key when handling a hacking crisis, he said. Loss of customer data can cause a sharp decline in brand value that can take 12 months to recover, he added.

Piers SchreiberPiers Schreiber

Attendees were aware of hacking charges involving the 2016 U.S. Presidential election including reports that Russian interference may have affected its outcome. Whether such charges are true is still being hotly disputed.

Schreiber, one of 16 speakers at the two-day event, headed the European corporate practice of Ogilvy PR in Brussels before serving as VP-CC, Jumeirah Group, Dubai, from 2009-2016. He was co-founder of The Communication Matrix, a consulting firm.

Summit Was a “U.N.” of the PR Industry

The Summit, which took place on the 34th floor Conde Nast Empire Suite at One World Trade Center, had eight PR groups as partners:

--International Assn. of Business Communicators

--International PR Assn., London

--International Communications Consulting Organization, London

--Hispanic PR Assn.

--PR Communications Assn., London

--Organization of American Women in PR, New York

--Publicity Club of New York

--New York chapter, PR Society of America

Sponsoring lunch breaks, coffee breaks and other events were D S Simon Media, Newsmeter, ICICI Lombard, Muck Rack and the O’Dwyer Co.

Petrov Founded P World

The Fear, by Kostov Petrov

Kosta Petrov, a native of Macedonia, is the founder of P World, which he describes as “the world’s leading events agency with operations in 30 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and North America.” It organized an international business meeting in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Petrov contributes to the U.S. edition of The Huffington Post and speaks at events in numerous countries on PR, leadership and entrepreneurship.

He authored The Fear, on how he conquered anxiety, and was editor and contributor to The Little Black Book of PR, “written by practitioners for practitioners.”

PR Pros Must Predict News—Day

Lauren Day, head of global communications strategy and operations, Prudential Financial, who gave the keynote address at the PR Summit, said the job of PR people “is not just to cover the news, but to try to predict it.”

Mary Jo Jacobi, former Presidential advisor and former VP-communications, BP America, said PR pros must “think before they write because what goes on the internet is forever.” The two most important things you need to have in a crisis are “empathy and sorrow,” she said.

Colleen Harris, who was press secretary to Princes Charles, William and Harry, said content is the key to effective communications. “The public demands more meaningful content, transparency and visionary communications,” she said.

Donald Steel, U.K., conducted a workshop on reputation and crisis management in a social media era. More than 5,000 PR and communications pros in 30 countries have attended his workshops.

Doug Simon, D S Simon Media, said companies and institutions should rely on their own spokespeople instead of seeking the traditional “third party endorsement.” There are problems with using “celebs” as spokespeople, he said.

National PRSA Is Absent

Not participating was national PR Society of America.

Members recalled that the last national conference of the Society in New York was in 2004 and that the headline speaker was Donald Trump,

Trump shocked the audience by sprinkling his talk with profanities and saying, "If somebody goes after you, go after the SOB and get them ... the next time they won't go after you so much." He advised not trusting anyone, including employees and even "the people sitting next to you right now ... they'll take your job, they'll take your money ... being a little paranoid is not so bad."

Saying that “PR is much more important than advertising,” he also warned that "The press can kill you ... the press can just eat you alive." Especially vulnerable, he said, are those who avoid the press but get one "defining story" that may be bad.

PRSA members at the summit were mystified at why there has only been one national conference in New York since 1992 and the fact that none are planned. The 2004 meeting, they noted, pulled a record 4,000 in attendance.

They trace the divide to Society board members. Only one of the 17 is non-APR although only 18% of members are APR. PRSA/New York has fewer than 50 APRs among 600+ members. The Society in late 2016 signed a 15-year lease at 120 Wall st. although most PR/ad/media firms are in midtown. About 80% of members are women, but the 2017 board is nine men and eight women. The 2016 board had 12 women and five men.

Future Events of P World Include:

Marketing Kingdom Cairo 3: 15th -16th October 2017 in Cairo, Egypt

Marketing Kingdom KSA: 8th-9th November 2017 in Riyadh, KSA

Global PR Summit Canada 2: 20th-21st November in Toronto, Canada