From the deputy editor: A new generation ready to change the game

"The financial crisis is just an event to them. For us it has shaped everything." So says Fishburn consultant Thomas Morris, discussing how the baby boomer generation "doesn’t get" the needs of his own.

It is sobering to think this year’s 30 Under 30 contingent may be the first for whom all (or almost all) their working life has existed in the shadow of the economic downturn. They embody the ‘new normal’, and their insights and predictions offer a fascinating glimpse of where the industry may be heading.

The members of this group are as varied as they are talented, encompassing agency MDs, high-flying account directors and accomplished in-house comms professionals. But some clear themes emerge from their profiles.

First, they are an optimistic bunch; about themselves, certainly, and largely about PR in general. "This decade should belong to professional communicators," says Oliver Jones, Aggregate Industries head of comms and sustainability.

There is a brashness among some, even a desire for a clean break with the past. Max Tatton-Brown, founding director of Augur, goes furthest, speaking of the "common dishonour" in "old PR", with its "insincerity, insecurity [and] ineptitude".

The concept of higher purpose – in comms and in business – is a recurring theme. "PR can’t just be a delivery mechanism or bolt-on. It needs to be part of shaping the entire business strategy and mission," says Krissy Koslicki, campaign director at Seven Hills.

Many see integration as another important theme. FleishmanHillard account manager Elizabeth Mercer believes lines will "continue to blur" between brands and consumers, and between audiences and influencers, "and PR will inevitably become more integrated and collaborative".

Unsurprisingly, most view technological developments, especially social media, as key factors affecting the industry’s future. The need to measure outcomes and the growth of content creation are also emphasised.

But there is recognition that the values of traditional PR still have an important role to play. "Though our methods may change, I think what we do will stay the same," Mercer predicts.

"One thing’s for sure," adds Adam Tanous, senior account manager at Performance Communications. "To be a great PR you need to be ready to evolve."

Surely that’s a sentiment on which the whole industry can agree. However PR evolves in the years to come, who would bet against many of our 30 Under 30 becoming agents of change for the better?

John Harrington, deputy editor

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