How PR has changed in the last 25 years
As our agency celebrates its 25th birthday, I have been reflecting on how the PR industry has evolved. There are obvious changes to point out, such as the diversification of the media landscape from print to digital, the arrival and massive growth of social media and the development of the comms discipline in general.
But the truth is, it's probably easier to talk about the many things that have remained consistent or developed due to the introduction of new thoughts, views and technology.
The role of PR
Thinking back to the 1990s, PR professionals were still fighting for their place at the top table and justifying both their abilities and their budget needs. Now, best practice has changed fundamentally and we're in a position where we're both competing with and complementing many other marketing disciplines.
This is perhaps best illustrated through the role that content plays and the creative outputs of comms agencies - both of which are often on a par with what advertising agencies produce.
More clients are truly understanding and fully appreciative of the massive role that comms can play in building brands and driving sales. As we've developed, we're now delivering the type of work that CMOs of years gone by could only dream of. The biggest advancement here is how comms teams have been quick to utilise technology in order to enhance service levels, support thinking and produce high quality and highly effective creative and content. At speed.
As an industry, we've never lost the nimbleness which defined our approach. Here we've grown our own creative department, which has given clients a whole new, fresh perspective on how things can be done on message, seeking the right target audience with engaging output which enables clients to hit their most challenging ROI measures.
Talent is another constant that’s thrived in our industry and it’s evolved to an ever wider range of comms roles recently. In previous years, people would make a specific choice to enter what was then called the world of PR, which often had a stereotypical, a one-dimensional way of thinking.
Now, there are swathes of new talent entering the industry, inspired by the broad range of opportunity available to them. We have people from across borders, across demographics and across ethnic groups. To succeed in this industry, we must have the team to best reflect the society in which we operate.
The traditional PR practitioner role has also changed and we’re now leaning to more of an ad agency model. Gone are the days that everyone is a generalist - we now have specialists. From copywriters and strategists, to paid media managers and creative directors, we invest in the talent needed to serve our clients.
Thinking about how the industry has diversified to digital, social media is probably the biggest standout change. In 2007, we acquired a young, social agency called Onlinefire to quickly serve our clients growing needs. The knowledge and credibility we gained from that in the early days has meant we have naturally drifted towards best practice and leadership in digital and social media services ever since.
But the one thing that has stayed most like those early days in the 90s are client relationships. Great work and honest engagement tends to build very strong, long lasting relationships. The aspiration to deliver the ultimate client service has always been at our core and means that we now have a portfolio of clients who have been with us for over 10 years. The world moves on, as do people. But the client’s desire for great service and the great opportunities available to those agencies who grasp this remains both core and consistent. Some things never change!!
Written by Adrian Brady, founder of PR agency Eulogy www.eulogy.co.uk
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