What does tomorrow's client want?

This week we've looked at the future for PR professionals and PR agencies but what's in store for clients? How will the way they engage PR agencies change?

This week we've looked at the future for PR professionals and PR agencies but what's in store for clients? How will the way they engage PR agencies change?

The craft of PR is becoming more complex. For clients, keeping their knowledge current so they can select the right mix of strategies, channels, and tools is more challenging than ever. Agencies are already expected to take on the role of trusted guide.

In future, this will likely form a larger part of any engagement, conducting real-time coaching on emerging best practices and helping clients navigate the rapidly-evolving communications landscape.

Naturally, there will be competition for this role from other creative agencies, such as brand, advertising, and direct marketing firms. PR has a strong case, though. It's closest to the messaging, often reports in at board level, and has an ongoing relationship with clients. But agencies will need to ensure their knowledge is razor sharp if they are to earn this coveted position.

When it comes to execution, we'll see more project-based engagements, with a firm emphasis on measurement. If agencies can't prove the business impact of a project, they won't retain the business.

Recently the trend has been for clients to centralize their global communications – every brand now operates on a global stage. So client/agency engagements will likely be multi-national to some degree. Even without dedicated campaigns in other markets, agencies will be called on to provide advice on international issues, so they will need to find a cost-effective way to deliver local knowledge, on a round-the-clock basis.

For agencies that meet these expectations, the prize is worthwhile: a deeper engagement with clients. Ultimately, the whole industry wins because we'll all be pushed to raise our game.

So, you've heard my take. But what do you see in the future for PR agencies?

Lucy Allen is SVP of global account servicing at Lewis PR. 

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