Innovation is certainly a buzzword in the PR industry. It's the subject of conferences and internal meetings, it's a quality that can set an agency apart in new-business pitches, and, perhaps most important, it's something that is essential to the industry's future.
This is especially true in a time where PR practitioners face challenges related to a constantly changing media climate, a harder-to-reach consumer, and other marketing disciplines encroaching on their turf.
The past several years have certainly seen an explosion in innovative-thinking agencies as they strive to do the best work possible to address clients' external challenges. New- and social-media strategies and tactics have understandably gotten the bulk of attention, but an agency's innovation shouldn't end there.
This week's issue features a piece on "agency innovators," something that will undoubtedly spark discussion among our readers. The idea was to find PR agency professionals whose ideas and views could eventually have an impact that extends beyond their agencies. While new and social media certainly have a place in there, we discovered that innovative thinking is also coming from areas of the business that might sometimes be overlooked, such as measurement, human resources, and overall agency management.
Invariably, readers will have their opinions about the people singled out in this feature - and those who were "left out" - and we welcome those opinions. To be fair, while PRWeek's editorial staff made the final choice on who to profile, we did welcome - and actively solicit - insight from our readers. The expectation was that because innovation is such a hot-button issue, we would be flooded with suggestions. We were wrong.
In fact, in gathering ideas for this feature, we decided to be innovative ourselves. A few months ago, we posted an entry on the Editor's Blog on PRWeek's Web site, asking for "nominations." After receiving only one response, we posted another entry a few weeks later. For an industry that prides itself on being innovative, the suggestions were few and far between.
Now, this may just be another example of the "cobbler's children" syndrome, or one could argue that not enough of our readers are reading our blog regularly. But those scenarios seem like a poor excuse. If an agency touts innovation as something that sets it apart, shouldn't that innovation extend to all facets of the business? It seems especially ironic that agencies were not innovative in pitching for a feature on innovation.
The industry is indeed changing, and PRWeek is adapting to those changes. While many reporters and editors here have a list of "go-to" people for advice about industry trends and suggestions for future articles, we've recognized that we have to broaden our horizons to get a more well-rounded picture of the industry. And so we're using many of the same tools that are being used by our readers on their clients' behalf. But that tactic can only work if our readers can change along with us.