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How is PR Changing?

27th May 2014


PRmoment recently held our annual PR is changing conference.

There seems to be little doubt that public relations is a sector going through massive change. It's a market in a period of disruption and in any disruptive market – there will be winners and losers.

I believe that this change is framed within some massively positive macro trends. The reality is that public relations, as a function, should be more important to business than it has ever been before.

The video below features thoughts from a few of our speakers:

PR is Changing 2014 from PRmoment on Vimeo.

We had the following speakers talk to us about the challenges and opportunities of this rapidly changing public relations world:

Ian Wright, Former Corporate Relations Director, Diageo

Alex Aiken, Executive Director, Government Communications

Clare Francis, Head of Content, Moneysupermarket

Alistair Smith, Managing Director, Corporate Communications – Group, Barclays

Marcus Gault, Managing Director (Insight), Precise 

Denise Kaufmann, Partner, CEO, Ketchum London

Sam Hall, Head of Social Media, Corporate Communications, Vodafone

Some key themes from me:

1.      The global international agency model must evolve. Global brands are increasingly bringing a lot of expertise in house and not outsourcing the same amount of work to agencies. The type of work global companies are outsourcing to PR agencies is also changing. This may well be a trend towards high end consultancy work, rather than global firms requiring agencies to give them feet on the ground.

2.      There's been a rush for content in the last five years. Content needs to create emotion, be useful and be shareable. Good content gives businesses and government the potential to engage directly with their stakeholders.

But guess what? If the content is crap none this works.

3.      Public relations people should have the mind-set and skill requirements to thrive in the new PR. But they must commit to lifelong learning and embrace new technologies otherwise they will very quickly become obsolete.

4.      Integration is absolutely critical. Businesses cannot on the one hand look to create a culture of trust, whilst on the other have non-ethical products. This trend means that the role of public relations within businesses is very important.

5.      If your public relations is currently measured on outputs then you and your colleagues are extremely vulnerable.

6.      Integration between content and channels is also important. Within this context PR people should understand the contribution of paid media. But at the same time, understand what they are good at. As a sector we shouldn’t attempt to spread ourselves too thin.

Measuring output is not easy, but the idea that public relations cannot identify its contribution to a company’s objectives is wrong. Measuring the influence of public relations to your company objectives, is no more difficult than measuring that of advertising or any other part of the marketing communications mix.

The importance of this point was brought in to focus when Alex Aiken, Executive Director, Cabinet Office said that in 2008, “Two thousand government workers lost their jobs because they couldn’t prove their worth”.

The next PRmoment conference is on June 26 and will look at the area of Public Relations and Trust.



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