LEADER: Global comms must expand to succeed

An international flavour for this week’s magazine, which is very much a taste of things to come for 2008.

As the IPRA Summit came to London this week – with top-level speakers such as US ambassador Karen Hughes and Adrian Hodges of the International Business Leaders Forum – PRWeek took the opportunity to gauge sentiment among senior agency leaders and international comms directors in the features section.

The debate about communications has moved on significantly. Today there is much less hand-wringing about PR’s place within the marketing mix and more emphasis on how the profession dovetails with corporate responsibility and risk, politics and diplomacy.

Hughes talked about how the US administration needed to use communications to improve its image, while Hodges addressed the latest thinking in CSR.

Elsewhere ICCO president Lou Capozzi says there is no longer a CEO in the world who doesn’t need his advice.

All this leaves no doubt high-calibre communications professionals are much in demand across the world.

Herein lies the opportunity and the challenge, because many also notice that demand now exceeds supply.

There is anecdotal evidence that professionals from other industries, such as management consultancy, are asking to join comms consultancies. But is the global industry doing enough to encourage and facilitate this?

One still senses resistance within some PR firms; a tendency to think of standard media relations experience as the key to a good recruit, when consultancies might do better to broaden their portfolio of skills.

The City agencies have blazed the trail in this respect with firms such as Brunswick and Tulchan bringing in analysts and business leaders such as Stephen Carter

But unless a wider range of agencies embraces this concept, we might well see a flow of good people, and work, in the other direction.
danny.rogers@haymarket.com

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