From the editor-in-chief: Smart, creative, effective - the future of the PR industry

The theme of this (summer) instalment of PRWeek is youth and optimism. Built around our annual 30 Under 30 project, we also draw on 'graduates' from recent years' schemes to give their views on the big issues facing the comms business.

Hence you have 20- or early 30-somethings dominating our features and opinion content for July/August. These next-gen leaders provide fresh insights into the skills and personalities required to succeed today and tomorrow. They give new perspectives on influencer marketing, which we all know is revolutionising media and comms.

I’d like to congratulate the 30 under 30 Class of 2019, who are profiled here. If ever you questioned the talent entering the PR industry over the past decade, you only need to look at these impressive professionals. Encouragingly, this year’s cohort hails from a diverse range of backgrounds and works across a range of specialisms, both agency- and client-side.

As well as this emphasis on talent, the summer season – thanks to June’s Cannes Lions – also offers an annual look at the best global brand campaigns of the past year.

Yes, many of these campaigns have been run by advertising agencies, but PR specialists are playing a bigger role in the very best campaigns – which, inevitably, have earned-media ideas at their core; because that ensures the narrative required for sustained cultural impact. And they are almost always an integrated mix of paid, earned, owned and shared media.

The role of brand purpose is now inherent in the vast majority of the work celebrated at Cannes. But how much of this cause marketing is authentic, how much is simply ‘woke-washing’, as Unilever CEO Alan Jope claimed in June?

PRWeek gathered a group of independent PR agency bosses – in effect, often ‘priced out’ of the official Cannes Festival – for a fringe event last month, to discuss these questions.

I believe we’ve reached a critical juncture in the brand-purpose debate. The majority of consumers, not just Millennials, now demand the private sector takes the lead on creating a fairer, more tolerant society and saving the planet from environmental catastrophe.

But this cannot be done for marketing advantage. Enlightened companies realise possessing an ethical purpose provides a basic licence even to continue operating. And comms specialists are the people to carry that message, to win that argument, to pressure business leaders to listen and, ultimately, to deliver.

Danny Rogers, editor-in-chief, PRWeek

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