One of the great privileges of being editor-in-chief of PRWeek is the access I get to the most powerful and forward-looking executives on the in-house and agency sides of the industry.
This week provided a very welcome opportunity to interact with several of the people who are defining the future of PR and communications and taking the profession to its next level.
The experience brought together several strands of thinking we have been trying to reflect at PRWeek in recent times and clarified what they mean for the next 12 months as everyone regroups after the Labor Day weekend and embraces the oncoming fall season.
One of the most powerful people in PR reminded me that the core skill of the modern practitioner is storytelling and creating great communications. This may sound obvious, but the warning shot behind this statement is that, if you define yourself incorrectly, you are quickly going to be looking at a shrinking role. However, if you embrace the former, the pie can get much bigger.
So let's look under the hood of that statement a little.
Social media is the most bandied-about term in any discussion about modern marketing and communications – and so it should be. It's the game-changer. But it is important to note that it is much more than just a channel.
But because corporate communicators and marketers are traditionally experienced at designing communications to be consumed, not shared, it is hard for them to create and rethink how they do things.
Social also means agency networks are finding their disciplines are converging and their advertising, media, PR, direct marketing, digital, and other agencies are increasingly operating on the same playing field. This may limit their potential if they confine themselves to this field, but the smart agencies recognize they can do a better job and that where they make their money is inevitably going to change.
The social future is predicated on owned and earned media, data, and marketing to customers on a one-to-one basis. So rather than seeing a future where the size of the pie is shrinking, agencies can create tremendous opportunities for themselves and, by extension, their networks - and, most importantly of course, their clients.
As stated many times in PRWeek, CCOs and PR agencies have an inbuilt advantage here. They understand multiple audiences and stakeholders, and the language that is increasingly being spoken by marketers is one with which they are already conversant. They have moved beyond a world that just encompasses campaigns and media relations.
They also recognize, as illustrated by our recent Global-Local Roundtable, that companies need local content and indigenous talent allied to the ability to work together across several territories simultaneously.
This engagement model can be daunting to embrace, but if it is utilized correctly it can create a vast amount of business value for brands and corporations. CCOs have to drive these change agendas hard, aided by their agencies - otherwise they could find themselves marginalized.