Postcard from Mexico

The Mexican PR industry is growing but not yet seen as strategic, says Adriana Valladares, president and CEO of Burson-Marsteller Mexico.

Mexico: the PR industry continues to grow
Mexico: the PR industry continues to grow

Despite the expectations generated by the change of government in 2012, the so-called Mexican Moment has not yet arrived. Decisions made with political rather than economic trade-offs in mind played an important part in the country’s failure to reach its economic goals last year.

This year does not seem too different with reviews of the growth objective already under way. Virtually all industries have felt the impact and PR is no exception, partly because it is not unusual that when companies begin to cut costs or delay plans and goals, one of the first areas to be affected is strategic communication.

In spite of this, according to the Mexican Association of Public Relations Professionals, the PR industry in Mexico continues to grow, both in the emergence of new players and in profit. This is the result of a growing number of civic, public and private organisations recognising the contribution and importance of strategic communication in achieving their goals.

Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go. It is still common to find that those responsible for communication remain secluded from the decision-makers or are invited to join the discussion too late.

Most of the time, they are seen as operational employees, those who take pictures, write or organise events, but not as strategic partners capable of contributing to the business.

Demonstrating the capabilities of PR to create value for organisations is one of the main challenges they face. In other words, it is imperative to improve the way they do PR for themselves.

And while advances are being made in that regard, the rise of social networks in Mexico and the lack of clarity on who should undertake these communication outlets in an organisation (PR, marketing or a new area) pose another major challenge.

Although we are gradually understanding the advantages that PR professionals have in contributing to this type of communication, it is still hard to find professionals with a complete domain over the diverse social networks, and it is even more difficult to find one who fully understands what it means to do PR in the digital era, beyond social media.

The field of technology also presents another challenge: Big Data. Each day, we generate 2.5 quintillion data bytes. In fact, 90 per cent of the existing data in the world has been created in the past two years. It is already known that this conglomeration of information comes from everywhere (climate information, posts in social networks, pictures, videos, purchase records, GPS signals, among many others) and it has become a valuable asset for organisations.

PR will not escape this trend since the opp­ortunity to analyse this massive amount of information will help identify more accurately the multiplying audiences and partners, as well as knowing and understanding their positions, learning about what influences them and observing how they evolve over time.

Finally, it should be noted that in Mexico there is still a great area of opportunity to consolidate the PR sector. This should help us solve the challenges that we face as an industry: to protect the quality, ethics and responsibility of those who dedicate themselves to building bridges between organisations and society; and work every day in the construction of reputations based on facts.

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