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Why this is the best time ever to be in communications

This is my 20th year working in comms, and what a pair of decades it’s been. I won’t bore you with the details on what it was like when I first started, and this isn’t just a piece I’m writing to get Bite’s name in PRmoment (tick). I honestly believe this is the best time to be doing what we do.

And what we do is becoming increasingly difficult to summarise in one sentence. The industry is undergoing a revolution – no-one has all the answers and every agency is reinventing itself in a slightly different way; be that to be insight and audience-led, tech-driven, storytelling-focused, or socially charged, we’re all finding our niche. The term ‘PR’ no longer defines us. No client brief is the same, and no answer is either. We are tested every single day, which is bloody exciting.

This excitement is due to the speed at which things change. I’m not sticking my neck out by saying technology is fuelling the current revolution. Part of the challenge has always been proving our worth and value, in order to get bigger budgets for more epic ideas, and thanks to our increased access to data and analytics it’s easier to justify what we’re doing and what we want to do. To ensure we stay ahead of the curve, we recently hired a head of innovation to drive technology-enabled campaigns. Working together with our head of insights, we’re now able to correlate data with these campaign ideas to prove they’ll have the desired impact.

Thanks to new platforms and mediums, there are more opportunities than ever for us to get our clients’ messages out there, particularly as the comms industry has stopped bitching and started collaborating. It’s now far easier for us to expand our remits and skills into things like video, for example. Turns out working together gets the best for your client, and the agencies that don’t recognise that are getting left behind. Some don’t like change, and it’s sorting the wheat from the chaff.

These ‘wheat’ agencies should have confidence in what it is they’re selling, and not take for granted what everyone else is trying to master. Like a child who has learned to tell the time before its classmates, we’ve earned our place at the top table – and we’ll continue to discover and hone new skills.

We’re in a place where we can properly smash down siloes within companies and across agencies by focusing on the story we want to tell, and how that translates to all disciplines. At Bite, we use the motto ‘Stop Content Pollution’ to encourage our clients to be OK with saying more with less. A world class blog post says more than a mediocre report – don’t be afraid of that.

We’ve come of age and the world wants what the comms industry is having. People are desperate to understand how to tell authentic brand stories, and after years of hard work, it’s in our DNA. We’ve gone from underdog to top dog, and we’ll fight to stay here.

Continuing the canine theme, however, it’s still a dog-eat-dog world. Pitches are highly competitive and you’re never up against the same line-up of agencies twice, so you have to stand out. I love the theatre of it all – we’ve featured rappers, robots and rainforests – and we’ll continue to come up with creative ways of grabbing attention and igniting imaginations.

The best agencies have a real sense of fighting spirit, comradery and ambition. I work with such a diverse range of people in a motivating, entrepreneurially-led, largely non-hierarchical and meritocratic environment. Try saying that with your mouth full.

Two decades doing this, and it’s still fun. Here’s to the next 20 years.

Article written by Kath Easthope, managing director of Bite

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