The PR professional of the future

As agency leaders, it's our job to anticipate the changes our industry faces and adapt our business models accordingly.

As agency leaders, it's our job to anticipate the changes our industry faces and adapt our business models accordingly. With the start of 2011 almost upon us, now is a good time to evaluate your vision.

In this week's posts, I'll explore three PR industry changes and how they impact agency models.

Any change starts with an agency's people. So what does the PR professional of the future look like?

We'll see a growing emphasis on specialized skill sets. Our industry is becoming commoditized, and agencies must safeguard their margins by being more efficient and effective than ever. Hiring highly skilled individuals who can execute quickly and bring unique value will be critical. Whether those skills are vertical or technical, we'll likely see an influx of professionals from other industries as PR agencies build out their talent portfolios.

Specialists also bring access to a ready-made network of relevant contacts – not just reporters, but all forms of influencers. A PR professional's network will become even more important, but the good news is that creating a network no longer relies on simply having the right personality. Thankfully, we should see the end of so-called PR pros whose only skill is the ability to work a room.

The ability to create content – from the written word to images, video, and interactive media – will be a key skill. Agencies will need content producers and visual directors and today's account manager will evolve into a project manager, who is able to coordinate complex, multimedia campaigns.

Finally, tomorrow's PR professional must have a global sensibility. Almost every brand operates on a global stage now, and PR agencies must be equipped to address audiences and manage crises around the world in a truly joined-up way.

Agencies won't change overnight, but if we're to thrive as an industry we need to start building talent strategies for the future now.

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

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