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The “PR Birthday” Series: CEO George Coleman celebrates five years of Current Global on the PRmoment Podcast

On the PRmoment Podcast, we catch up with UK public relations leaders and today we’re chatting with Current Global CEO George Coleman. It’s a timely discussion as we seem to be celebrating a few PR firm birthdays recently, so this is the latest in our unofficial “Birthday” Series as Current Global celebrates five years of existence!

Current Global was born out of Weber Shandwick. It now has a reported fee income of over £35 m and about 300 employees globally, with about 30 in the UK.

It describes itself as a multidisciplinary PR firm that works in corporate, healthcare, technology, and consumer sectors. It’s an interesting example of a pretty young PR firm coming out of a holding group (in this case, Interpublic) and doing quite well. Over the past five years, most of the holding groups have mainly concentrated on merging their PR firms, not launching new ones!

Clients include Microsoft, Novartis and FedEx

If you're listening to this podcast, it probably means you are interested in updating yourself on the challenges and opportunities that the future of public relations will offer. With that in mind, do take a look at our latest PR Masterclass: AI in PR. It’s a cracker!

Also, thanks so much to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors the PRCA.

Here is a summary of what George and PRmoment founder Ben Smith discussed:

2 mins Is Current Global one of those large, mid-sized global PR firms that many of our listeners might not have heard of?

3 mins George gives a brief history lesson on how and why Current Global came about.

“For us, it (the merger) was a positive forward-looking move.”

“If your reason to merge is to save money, that is a more difficult brief.”

10 mins George talks about what it’s like being a global CEO of a PR firm based out of London, when the US is the largest market for Current Global.

“40-50% of my time is billable…I love the job… It’s less about operations and the admin and more about doing great client work.”

18 mins George reflects on the challenge of running a PR firm across global markets.

“Culture is an expression of connection.”

21 mins How have the complicated geo-political environment and the complicated societies that we seem to now live in impacted the type of work that PR firms do?

“There seems to be an ongoing process of polarisation in public discourse fuelled by social media. Traditional media plays less of an influential role in creating that common ground, that understanding. A lot of our discussions are becoming more polarised, more tribal…We (society) can’t even agree on facts."

“Communications sits in the middle of that.”

25 mins Brands face a challenge in leading conversations at the moment in this era of increased polarisation.

27 mins “The importance of what we do has never been greater.”

28 mins George reflects on how he thinks AI will impact the PR agency model over the next 18 months.

“There are two ways AI is going to transform public relations…”

“We’ve had ten years where search has been king. With AI, that dynamic changes.”

35 mins What do global PR clients want currently?

38 mins Why George believes that we’re seeing a fundamental change in the PR agency: employee relationships.

42 mins George talks about the need for the PR sector as a whole to make its communications more accessible, reminding us that much of the tech you already have access to can transform the accessibility of their communications to a broader range of people. Here is a useful link to the Accessible Communications website, which includes best practice guidelines, audience research, the 21-day accessible communications challenge and much more, all free to use.

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