MIAMI BEACH--Temasek communications head Stephen Forshaw today told the PR industry that it risks losing its storytelling edge because of an increasing reliance on gadgets.

Forshaw made the comments on day two of the Global Public Relations Summit in Miami Beach, during a panel discussion led by Hill + Knowlton Strategies global chairman and CEO Jack Martin.

The session considered the value of personal connections in an increasingly impersonal world. Hill + Knowlton Strategies vice-chairman and head of research Peter Zandan pointed to specific trends fuelling this development, including emerging social technologies and the move from a knowledge to a social economy.

“I think for the foreseeable future there is a more and more of a premium applied to wisdom,” said Zandan.

Forshaw expanded this theme further, noting that a “proliferation of gadgetry” is making senior communicators lose sight of their core role.

“We’ve lost the art of developing key messages and we’ve lost the art of storytelling,” said Forshaw. “And storytelling is the heart of our business. What satisfies me most is when I am telling stories.”

Forshaw said that this trend was of particular concern, given the importance of developing the next generation of talent.

“What are we doing to make sure that in 10 years, the person sitting in this chair in this conference is better equipped to do your job than you are,” he said. “I am a passionate believer in making sure that every one of us is nurturing the next generation of talent.”

Martin concluded the discussion by noting that the industry needs to “always remember that on the other side of the gadget or newspaper or, whatever medium, there is a human being who it’s our responsibility to communicate with.”