by Prof. Dr. Dejan Verčič,
Professor of Public Relations at the University of Ljubljana
BledCom is a feel good conference, where public relations scholars and practitioners meet, mingle and discuss. It has a spirit of the original Old Greek meaning of the word ”symposium”; where else can academic conference participants enjoy food and drink at a Michelin star restaurant? This is the secret of BledCom’s own sustainability: the 2023 BledCom was the 30th in a row since 1994.
The 30th International Public Relations Research Sypomsium – BledCom was held on 30 June and 1 July 2023 in Rikli Balance Hotel, Lake Bled, Slovenia. It atracted 135 participants from 26 countries from five continents. Its theme was Public Relations and Sustainability. Ideas were presented in two plenary and 16 paper sessions.
Sustainability is the ability of a system (an individual, a group, an organization, society, the planet) to maintain continuity over time. According to the Brundtland Commission (the World Commission on Environment and Development, United Nations), sustainability means ”meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”
On one hand, it appears as though sustainability has become the holy grail of the continuity of capitalism: ”We focus on sustainability not because we’re environmentalists, but because we are capitalists,” wrote Larry Fink, Chairman and Chief Executive Office of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, in the 2022 annual letter to CEOs. On the other hand, as a normative concept, sustainability calls for a creative destruction of the current organization of production to alleviate global poverty.
The above paradox between two extreme approaches to sustainability has provided a framework for debates on what is the role and contribution of public relations in making the world more sustainable. The main purpose of public relations is the synchronization of organizations with their environments – cultural, natural, social, political and technological, and it is therefore directly involved in enabling their perseverance.
BledCom is an annual gathering of scholars and practitioners in public relations and related disciplines to discuss contemporary communication and management problems. Organized annually since 1994, it is the oldest conference in our field that is not affiliated with a professional or academic association. The 31st International Public Relations Research Symposium (BledCom 2024) will be held on 5-6 July 2024, in Rikli Balance Hotel, Lake Bled, Slovenia. The theme will be Public Relations and Human Weell-being. For more information and the Call for Papers visit www.bledcom.com.