As you may know from my last BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas post, I had the pleasure of attending and serving on a panel at the PRSA/PRSSA Pro-Am Day in St. Louis.The some 120 attendees (about half being college communications majors), myself included, were fortunate to meet new PRSA president/CEO Gary McCormick and listen to him speak. His luncheon presentation, “A Tale of Two Sides: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” addressed why the future of PR is bright – while acknowledging the downturned economy and shuttering of many print media outlets.
McCormick began with the “Three E’s Bringing Change.”
- Economy – budgets are down and value propositions are up, making it more difficult to succeed in the marketplace.
- Environment – trust is down, number of messages is down, and audiences now expect to provide input.
- Effects Strengthened Through PR/Partnerships – public relations understands how to build and sustain beneficial relationships; transference of credibility moves the messages faster and feedback is more immediate and helps facilitate needed change.
McCormick cited a number of statistics and studies to prove his point that current changes are good for PR. For example, according to CareerCast.com, PR tops other communication disciplines, such as advertising and journalism, in the listing of top 200 jobs. The annual Veronis Suhler Stevenson study predicts a consolidated aggregated growth rate for public relations as nearly 10 percent for the years 2008-2012. Even in a downturned economy, spending on PR in the U.S. grew by more than 4 percent in 2008 and nearly 3 percent in 2009 – to $3.7 billion. And, finally, the rise of the Internet and social media has given PR a big boost.
Why else does McCormick think the future of PR is bright? Things like: advances in technology, changing role of traditional media, reduced trust in business, 24/7 immediate/global news cycle, segmentation of messages and authentication of sources, the ongoing turf war on owning social media, and the fact that organizations will no longer own messages/messaging and that actions will define reputation are all benefits influencing the landscape of public relations.
Finally, he made the following suggestions for preparing for the future:
- Focus on strategy, not tactics
- Include all the tools available
- Integrate and innovate
- Embrace the new normal
- Deliver more listening points than talking points
- Maintain your individual brand ethics
What do you think? Are you beginning to see an upturn in business? How are the current media and economic environments affecting the way you do public relations? Share your thoughts with me and the readers of Fresh Ideas.