2020: Are we in the future yet?

How has the world of PR has changed in the past 20 years - and what might the birth of a new decade mean for the industry?


If you had asked me when I started my career, back in the now distant and innocent-sounding 2002, what my working environment would look like in 2020, I would have struggled to give you an answer.

I imagine I would have predicted the PR world full of all sorts of shiny gadgetry, virtual reality and robots instead of humans.

But here we are, heading into a new decade, with many aspects of the communications industry looking familiar.

Although the key media channels have made the shift to digital, we still speak and engage with editors, target people of influence and try and educate stakeholders about our client’s key messages, whilst protecting them from negative sentiments.

And, importantly, the communications industry is still considered highly relevant, having successfully found a way to continue to offer real value to brands and individuals.

However, what has changed drastically is the scope and volume of people that we can interface with.

I’m now proud to lead campaigns that achieve reach and impressions in the billions, as opposed to thousands, and our influencer targets are themselves achieving individual reach in the millions.

This enhanced communications landscape was one of the reasons I decided to take my GCC-based company global this year, plugging into the PRCO group network, to allow my clients the benefit of strategies and contacts that cross borders.

Deciding to scale your operation is a personal decision, and I think an intuitive company owner is best placed to tell when the timing matches external interest and opportunities.

For us, it was driven by our identification of the endgame, the big-picture vision to grow in a sustained, moderate fashion and to be insulated by the fluctuations of operating in just one territory. I was also excited to be able to offer my talented colleagues a clear career trajectory, to reassure them that my entrepreneurial zest also spread to elevating opportunities for everyone in my team.

Lastly, I wanted to scale because I am curious. I am curious about this shiny new era we find ourselves in and eager to take full advantage of the globally minded, always-on community in which we live.

As we count down the final few days of the old decade, I’m finding inspiration in what the future holds for us all.

Sophie Toh is founder of GCC communications agency TOH

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