The Future of the PR Agency
Over one alarming weekend four years ago, the British economy looked to be heading into freefall. Alastair Darling was hastily scrambling a £500 billion bank rescue package, and the British man and woman in the street learned what a ‘run’ on a bank meant.
This was the context around which PRWeek published a supplement focusing on the future of the PR agency. We asked in-house heads of communications how they would like PR agencies to change and published a series of essays by agency directors in response. Given the frantic state of the economy, no surprises that there was a sense of urgency in those essays in terms of embracing change.
So, four years on, what’s changed? The feature runs through the client wish list from 2008 and looks at the extent to which it has been addressed. Further on, agency directors (and PRCA director-general Francis Ingham) mull the changes they have witnessed.
Clients’ desire for more cross-discipline working has certainly been acted on. It is normal now to have a PR agency team working alongside the ad agency, a digital agency, and, say a promotional team. The most far-sighted clients are finding ways to motivate these teams so that they are virtually self-managing.
Agencies are now far more adept at targeting audiences beyond the traditional media. Although there is still some way to go before digital ease is a given, agency staff are in many cases producing some innovative work using social media platforms. Creative ways of targeting clients’ internal audiences are also much more on the agenda.
The client wish list for 2012 has been adapted. The digital imperative is still as pressing as ever, despite the progress already made. Mirroring the evolving balance of the global economy, multinational clients want agencies to become more adept at creating work that can extend to developing markets. Turn to page xx for the rest of the agency To Do list.
Claire Murphy, consultant editor, PRWeek
'Know my business as well as I do. I want my agency to understand my business' priorities and act accordingly'
A focus on the bottom line, need for insight and demand for creativity will drive PR forward.
The PR industry has come a long way, but there are still major challenges to overcome.
It's time to get off the fence, grow up, and deliver fresh ideas for the next decade.
Telling engaging stories in a visual way will see film-makers become increasingly important.
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