The second ever #PRFest, the world’s only festival dedicated to public relations, kicked off at Whitespace in Edinburgh yesterday and continues today.

An idea brought to life by Scottish PR consultant, Laura Sutherland, who runs Aura in Glasgow, #PRFest brings practitioners from across the UK to Scotland, to learn, share and collaborate.

Industry leaders at the two-day event will talk about mental health, diversity, crisis management, data and analytics, influencer relations, influencing the boardroom and ethics, all the way through to the most up-to-date and current thinking on PR and cyber security.

Sutherland said: “I’m pleased once again to have organised and brought together so many industry leaders across all fields of public relations and to give practitioners the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills, as well as network, collaborate and do business.

“We’ve been missing an event like this for some time. Gone are the days of boring conferences, I wanted to develop an event where practitioners can learn and implement immediately, as well as discuss big industry topics collectively.”

In addition, #PRFest welcomes two new initiatives, Women in PR launched last night in Scotland, an independent networking organisation for senior women working in the PR industry, and a new cooperative has launched for independent practitioners, the Scottish PR Collective.

The Scottish PR Collective (SPRC), also developed by Laura Sutherland, is taking the agency model and turning it on its head. Sutherland explains “This group of independent practitioners have their own PR businesses, working with their own clients, but SPRC was developed to promote independent practitioners in Scotland, allowing businesses and organisations to find them more easily and indeed to take advantage of the huge growth in brands looking for extensions of their teams, one point of contact and without the large overheads. We have a wealth of independent practitioners in Scotland, mostly of a senior level, with amazing experience and skills to tap into.

“In addition, we will collectively work together on bigger projects, cover holidays, offer advice and support and we each offer something a bit different.

“With the rise in the desire to have a better work-life balance and the requests to work with skilled and experienced independent practitioners, this collective offers flexibility and we’ve got each other for wider network support.”

A Scottish PR influencer dinner was also held last night, with PRCA’s Director General, Francis Ingham leading discussions on industry trends, challenges and opportunities, ahead of his presentation on Friday, 16 June on day 2 of #PRFest.

Francis Ingham, Director General, PRCA, said: “We’re very proud to be supporting PRFest, which this year promises to cover some of the really big issues in PR and communications. I’m looking forward to discussing the global trends, challenges and opportunities within the industry when I speak at the event on Friday, and that promises to be a lively discussion!”