2012 will see professional standards scrutinised, say PROs

The year 2012 and beyond will see high professional standards being of 'critical' importance, more accounts under review from clients facing cuts and consultancies having to 'jump through more hoops'.

2012 predictions: Alison Clarke and Jane Wilson
2012 predictions: Alison Clarke and Jane Wilson

The predictions were made by CIPR CEO Jane Wilson and UK CEO of Grayling Alison Clarke in PRWeek’s first podcast of 2012.

‘Being successful in PR is all about future-gazing’ said Wilson, who drew on results from the CIPR’s UK-wide survey released in December.

She said two key themes emerged: ‘Members want the profession to act in a more professional and transparent way, and continue to work on the development of more junior people working in practices. The second theme was accepting and adapting to change.’

Looking forward to how the media landscape is changing, Wilson said: ‘The days when you could have a small book of key journalists has now gone but that media relations as a whole is now becoming a smaller part of the complete public relations package.’

She stressed that the key to working with the media going forward is ‘transparency’. She said: ‘We need to work in a transparent and ethical way, and the media too are going to be forced to up their game in that aspect.’

Clarke added that professional standards are absolutely critical for the industry. This statement followed the industry coming under intense scrutiny for The Independent sting on Bell Pottinger and Portland being accused of altering Wikipedia entries for clients.

She also said that agencies should not be looking at just 2012, but further ahead: ‘Agencies that want success need to constantly reinvent themselves to cater to client needs and continue to invest in the talent and skills.’

Clarke admitted that it is not just consultancies that are future-gazing, but clients are also looking ahead: ‘Clients are taking the opportunity to review whether they are getting value for money, review who they work with, and they are expecting and demanding a lot from consultancies. There are more hoops to jump through than ever before.’

She also warned that the biggest challenge for agencies is to deliver clients business objectives but also to be ‘mindful of our own’.

‘Discounting is not the answer – differentiation and value and added insight are the ways that consultancies can succeed,’ said Clarke.

Watch the full podcast here

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