PR predictions for 2003

Andy Lark, VP, global communications & marketing, Sun Microsystems

Andy Lark, VP, global communications & marketing, Sun Microsystems

What will be the greatest challenge for the PR industry in 2003? It's interesting that we think of it as an industry and not a profession. The umbrella challenges are still there. How can communications be viewed by all executive management as a critical contributor to business performance and reputation? And, how can communicators develop the skills and credibility to be viewed by those same executives as trusted advisors and drivers of business performance? We need to have an unrelenting commitment to broadening our skills beyond communications - that's a challenge. On the flip side, the challenges will be market pressures, morale and money. The pressure will only increase for PR to deliver very tactical initiatives that drive sales and business performance. Layoffs, crisis in corporate confidence, a brutal media environment all make this the toughest of times to be leading communicators. Most PR professionals I talk to are being asked to do more with less money. In some respects our challenge will be restoring the very reputation of the industry. Will PR increase its relevance to the C-suite in 2003? Sarbanes-Oxley and the Post-Enron enterprise value communications more than ever. I've never thought we as a profession have struggled to be seen as more or less relevant. We have struggled to prove our relevance by delivering measurable programs that drive business performance. Or, to even speak the language of the business - how many PR professionals know what a customer CTQ is? The problem is at our end, not in the C-suite. Saying that, Reputation Management is more important in the C-suite than ever before. It's a critical enabler of business performance. Recruiting board members today is tougher than ever. The slightest reputation tarnish will make it impossible. The responsibility PR professionals now bear is probably greater than at any point in the history of our industry. It's time to get over how much or how little relevant we are and seize the nettle. What will be the big media trend of 2003? Yikes! Selfishly, I'd like to see it be mobility with security. It's a much bigger than wireless and the Internet. It's about anytime, anywhere access to anyone on any device. We're at a tipping point in terms of network computing. Web services, Java, high speed connections and exciting new devices are all converging at an unprecedented rate. This will drive the next big anthropological change in the workplace and home. The waves of coverage will range from technology through entertainment where massive multiplayer online gaming is exploding, through to social change as new urban environments emerge from which millions work. It would be great to see a trend towards greater communications and media responsibility. Less hype and vested opinion. More evidence and credible commentary. "Transparency" was the defining business term of 2002. What will be the defining term for 2003? I hope transparency doesn't go away - stock option expensing is a huge threat to transparency. If stock option expensing occurs then the word might be Integrity. You can't have transparency without integrity. Transparency is potentially a huge change driver for communications. How does a company become more, not less transparent? We've been noodling new thinking around this. Ideas like posting full interview transcripts to Blogs. Or driving a more direct dialog through blogging. The other word might be Cash. No matter if you are an agency or a client the focus is on cash. How can I generate more cash? How do I manage my communications investment? There are so many words right now. Net Identity. Homeland Security. Globalization. Our challenge as communicators is no longer managing the word (Internet) but managing our relevance in the context of many words. The dimensions of what constitutes reputation are quickly shifting. Click on any of the names below to see their 2003 PR predictions: Reed Byrum, president and CEO, PRSA Steve Cody, managing partner, PepperCom Andy Cunningham, CEO, Citigate Cunningham Ofield Dukes, president, Ofield Dukes & Associates Peter Gardiner, partner & chief media officer, Deutsch Inc. Harvey Greisman, VP of communications, IBM Global Services Fred Haberman, president, Haberman & Associates Andy Lark, VP, global communications & marketing, Sun Microsystems Bill Margaritis, VP of worldwide corporate communications, FedEx Helen Ostrowski, CEO, Porter Novelli Doug Pinkham, president, Public Affairs Council Harlan Teller, chief client officer and president, worldwide corporate practice, Hill & Knowlton Mark Weiner, CEO, Delahaye Medialink

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