Saying it was a pleasure to be in Gent for the Euprera Spring Symposium 2010 is nothing short than an understatement as it is the kind of event that can give you enough energy and insight for the whole year. I was sorry to have missed the first day, but the second day and the presentations that I had the chance to attend were more than enough.

There are a few things I would like to highlight given that I was part of them. One is the Euprera Euroblog Social Media Awards, led by Philip Young this project meant to recognise the best student and research PR blogs across Europe. Being part of the Jury was an honour that Philip described well by saying: “we were happy that it was such a hard decision”.

Winners of the Euprera Social Media Awards

I was happy to see so many students participating, and especially thrilled to see a Portuguese blog make it to the short list.

Part of Euroblog is also a daring research project. The intent is to know how social media is taught in Public Relations courses across Europe and even to build a generic teaching model. During the spring symposium we presented how the project progressed so far and managed to get very good insights from a small team work session.

There is a lot to do for Euroblog, and now we have quite a diverse team to help us do it. Feel free to follow the Euroblog Wiki and this blog for more news on that later this week.

The Spring Symposium is indeed the best setting for a dialog on Public Relations and social media and fortunately all of the presentations and papers presented are made available on Euprera’s website.

My contribution this year was a small part of my MA Dissertation on values and values systems, of which I already talked about in a previous post. It began as a small review of the main concepts of Values used in a series of disciplines, specifically concepts presented by Rokeach, Schwartz, Hofstede and others.

But the concept of Values as changed.

Recent work on Values and Values Systems points Public Relations to a Values Systems School of Thought to which David Phillips as contributed a great deal, both in previous work and in the paper he prepared for the conference. The paper details Toyota’s recent crisis and the extent to which an online landscape can be identified and monitored. But more than that, it challenges Public Relations professionals to be more than technicians and to take charge in looking after Values that are sometimes outside of the organization’s sphere.

Jon Iwata’s work with IBM is also a new perspective on Values and Values Systems, proposing a framework of values that goes from what it means to look like IBM to actually being IBM. Although I do not fully agree with models of Values Systems (or corporate identity) that originate solely from within the organization, Iwata’s perspective appears to be flexible enough to be used in more negotiated approaches.

From a different area comes a model of Values Systems in Collaborative Networks, by Camarinha-Matos and Macedo. If we put together this model for values system with work done in both psychology and neurobiology by Harry Reis and by Quartz and Sejnowski, we find a model that details the process by which relationships are formed around values. It also provides us with a number of important concepts to study how relationships are built around Values.

Not only does the the Values System School of Thought help explain Social Media, it is reinforced by our use of technology to communicate. It does this by creating a more permanent record of our demonstration of personal and group values that we can use to conduct research. This demonstration of Values can be the way we build Public Profiles, the editorial line followed in blog posts, the images and colors we opt to use and a number of other types (or tokens as David Phillips would say) and their respective occurrences.

The recent work by Jeong-Nam Kim and James Grunig promises to make this area even more interesting, by proposing a set of tools to understand our communicative behaviour in problem solving. It may very well be that our Values and Values System play a part in both our identification of problems, as well as in the choice of solutions.

It would appear that 2010 is to become a very interesting year for the Public Relations discipline.

With all this said, I would like to thank everyone who made the Spring Symposium possible with a special note to the Artevelde students who made me feel welcomed simply by reaching out on Twitter.