David Hargreaves

Reflections on the reinvention of the PR industry

In Search Of The Missing Pieces

I am sure I am not the only person who runs a PR agency who spends many waking hours thinking about how their business needs to evolve to reflect the changing communications landscape. The challenge is how to evolve while operating in a climate where agencies have to deliver more for less for their clients and while investment in new skills has been limited by virtue of slower growth or even a shrinking business over the past 12 months.Missing Pieces

The good news is that there is certainly no shortage of opportunities to pursue, the difficult bit is working out what are the specific skills and capabilities an agency needs to overlay on top of all the services a traditional agency would deliver. I saw a recent post from Todd Defren  where he was asking a very similar question.

His question was asking “what you would do differently if you were setting up an agency from scratch today.”  As I gear up for my new role within the Next Fifteen Group, I am going through this very process right now and have been giving it a lot of thought. That being said, I am coming at this from a slightly different perspective, in that we are looking develop a consultancy that provides complementary (not competing) services to Next Fifteen’s existing PR brands: Lexis, Text 100, Outcast, Bite, MBooth and 463.

I think it is sometimes easy to jump straight into thinking about the specific services that a progressive communications group needs to deliver rather than thinking about what are the broader drivers among our clients (and indeed our clients’ audiences) which require the evolution of our services. I won’t pretend I have captured them all here but I think there are three key drivers that I consider the most important:

  1. Organisational change: As the digital landscape changes, companies are struggling to understand how the different digital channels should be leveraged across not just the marketing function but every single function in an organization.
  2. Data Explosion: PR has never been know for being particularly scientific or being driven by data. The free availability of data and the ability to capture and analyse data demands that we leverage data much more heavily in our quest to influence an audience
  3. Rich Digital Content Is King: Stating the obvious, but communications is now highly visual and as such is centered around ‘social objects’ which can be everything from a video to a game or widget.

One thing I do know is that for traditional PR agencies, the  media is as important as ever not least because of the power of digital channels in propagating this content. On top of that, the core skill of building relationships with key influencers will continue to be a prized asset of great PR agencies.

We won’t be launching our new consultancy until later in the year but in the meantime we have the exciting challenge of working with our sister companies and our clients to determine where we put our initial focus.

Filed under: Communications, Events & Announcements, Marketing, North America, Social Media

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