PR is Becoming More Than Just Savvy PR Pros

Phil Nardone

As any PR professional knows, prediction pieces are all the rage this time of year. Executives, industry experts and analysts are all reflecting on the past year and hypothesizing about what is ahead. The year’s biggest trends, the ones that fell by the way side and what will be the next big thing are all popular discussion points. The PR industry is no exception of the prediction piece. Similar to other industries, these insights help us PR folks identify what was considered a success and understand how the industry is doing as a whole. Last week, The Council of Public Relations released survey results that touched upon everything from the overall state of the PR industry in 2014 to the biggest opportunities and challenges that we will encounter in 2015. council As I noted earlier this month in my video recap of PAN’s activity in Q3 – 2014 has been and continues to be a phenomenal year for PAN Communications. As excited as I am about the record year PAN is having, it made me happy to see that other PR agencies are experiencing the same sort of success. According to the results, 2014 will be another positive gain for the PR industry with the majority of PR Council firms stating that they are on their way to another year of revenue growth. Nearly two-thirds of participating firms (65 percent) are reporting that their top line is up, with the average growth for 2014 projected among all participating firms around 6 percent. The survey also identified five areas that will provide the biggest growth opportunities with clients in 2015. After reading through these five areas, it’s clear that a shift is coming for the PR industry. Here are the five areas that will provide the biggest growth opportunities in 2015:

  • Digital work 85%
  • Content creation/marketing 77%
  • Creative work 56%
  • Integrated work 48%
  • Crisis work 33%

What is interesting about the list above is that the top three areas for growth aren’t what you would consider “traditional PR” tactics. If 10 years ago, a client was to ask for a project that involved digital or creative work, we’d all scratch our heads and wonder what the heck was going on. Today however, this ask doesn’t seem too farfetched. Over the past few years, thanks to the rise of things like social media, clients are looking less for traditional PR plans and are instead seeking more integrated communications solutions from their agencies. Case-in-point, the survey indicated that approximately 80% of firms reported that clients are seeking more integration this year vs. 2013. Based on these results, looking ahead to 2015, we’ll start to see a shift in how PR agencies are staffed and structured. This is something that was talked about in 2014, but I think 2015 will be the year when we start to see a lot more action and a lot less talk. As our industry and our business have become more integrated, it has fueled a need for more diverse, well-rounded and adaptable talent. Thus, the ideal hire is no longer just a savvy PR pro with a proven history of media coverage and client relations successes; we will start to look for people who can talk to and understand the marketer. Clients want more than media coverage or well-written white papers. They want thinkers, analytical, highly creative, data-driven minds. Today the ideal hire could be anyone from a former marketing communications manager to a creative director with over 15 years of corporate and agency creative marketing experience. At PAN, we heard rumblings of this from our clients earlier this year and already started making this shift. We hired Jennifer Bonney, to lead creative services for the agency. Her creativity and skills have allowed us to start offering more integrated solutions to our clients and the results have been incredible. So tell me, are you seeing similar changes at your agency? What are you doing to capitalize on the opportunities of tomorrow? And, like our friends at PR Council are you seeing the trend of our client-contact being the CMO or VP of marketing?

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