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Geared for Change: Tackling Growth in the PR Industry

Today, we are witness to revolutionary changes in communication methods. Developments in social media are changing the way companies do business and will be felt by those in the PR industry and those in communication departments the world over. But are you ready to meet these changes?

The Global Communications Report 2016¹, made a revelation about the growth of the PR industry over the next five years. It’s estimated that the growth will escalate to 33% with a worldwide revenue of nearly US$20 billion by 2020. Stemming from this growth, the study expects many aspects of the PR industry to undergo a transformation.

In such a rapidly expanding world, it’s imperative to be change-ready. How should you gear yourself for this promising future? Here are five tips to consider.

Seek cultural diversity

According to the report “only 45% of agency heads and 44% of corporate executives believe their ranks are as diverse as their clients’ customers or stakeholders.” This means a lot can be done and must be done to encourage cultural diversity. As you keep an eye open for career opportunities it’s worth looking for companies that value diversity. Such companies have more potential and appeal to a global audience. It is also a very healthy sign for a communications team.

Train to meet change
It goes without saying that a strong communications team is built on the varied talents of its team members. Although the Report simply stresses the importance of recruitment and retainment of the best talent, it should also focus on training. Whether you have long been a part of a communications team or are a new recruit, you should always be hungry for knowledge. Consider following courses such as those offered at the Charted Institute of Public Relations, reputed international universities (many which now offer online courses) or your closest university.

Keep up with trends
Balancing work and study with life’s other commitments isn’t easy. But if you’re keen on being prepared for the revolution that social media is promising to initiate (and indeed already has!) then you need to make time for it. This means understanding and eventually participating in the many platforms out there from LinkedIn and Twitter to YouTube and Facebook. Who knows? Before long, your company might introduce a new social media strategy and you could be ahead of the game. As always, practice makes perfect.

Blend traditional and nontraditional skills

Traditionally, all communications people are considered good writers. But should writing be the only skill they possess? The Report indicates that written communication is still the most sought after skill by both client and agency respondents. But we are living in a digital age and it’s crucial that we possess varying talents and skills. As listed in the Report, strategic planning, analytics and SEO are some of the nontraditional skills that must be displayed by communications experts of the present day.

Of course, it is impractical to expect a communication person to be a ‘jack of all trades.’ But we must learn from each other in order to adapt to the changes around us. In a communications team it is also crucial that ideas are exchanged and knowledge is shared.

Nurture unquantifiable qualities

In an industry that is dependent on team work, it is important to nurture qualities that cannot be quantified, such as loyalty, empathy and gratitude.In an insightful article published in the Business Insider, the current ‘Pottermore’ CEO, Susan Jurevics says she ensures that new hires display a sense of gratitude in addition to an incurable obsession with the ‘Harry Potter’ series.

Attributes such as these are extremely important in the communications industry, because whether you are managing internal or external communications you need to be in tune with your audiences and their needs. This is only possible when unquantifiable qualities are nurtured.

Sounds daunting? You are certainly not alone because the industry itself must take massive strides to meet these changes. You too can bravely meet the challenges of a growing PR industry, all you have to do is silence the doubts in your mind, set your goals and take flight!

¹ This widely circulated communications report is produced by University of Southern California’s Centre for Public Relations, The Holmes Report and many others. Last year, the data was gathered from 460 representatives from both the client and agency sides of businesses around the world. The respondents completed the online questionnaire which focused on areas of potential growth in the industry.
© Copyright March 2017
The ideas discussed here may be used, adapted or built upon for academic or commercial purposes provided due credit is given to Smart Media The Annual Report Company as the originator of this work.



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