The PRCA kicked off its 2019 events calendar this week with a lively discussion about the top predictions for PR and communications over the next 12 months.
2019: The Year of… brought together an audience of PR and comms professionals with a panel of industry experts including: Adrian Wheeler, PRCA trainer and author, Danny Whatmough; managing director, integrated media at Weber Shandwick; Justine Bower, director of communications – consumer & social at UKTV; Tony Langham, CEO of Lansons and chaired by Jim Donaldson, CEO of UK & Middle East, FleishmanHillard Fishburn. Key discussion points from the panel covered a range of topics including: mental health, creative collaboration, independent consultants and the demise of digital marketing.
The panel were all in agreement about the importance of improving mental wellbeing. With recent research from the PRCA and PRWeek showing there is a huge need for the industry to take the mental health of employees seriously, 2019 should see real and positive change. Justine Bower spoke about the pressures put on PRs, from remaining calm in a crisis to the need to be ‘desk present’ (i.e. working through lunch and not taking screen breaks), and how we combat this by encouraging open and honest conversations about mental health.
Another hot topic was around collaboration, more specifically, creative collaboration. As technology allows greater co-creation and the demand for creativity grows, practitioners will become ‘creative curators’, using data and analytics to uncover new insights from existing ideas. Adrian Wheeler supports this theory, he said that the need for creativity is high and by working together we can generate new and exciting ideas.
One area of PR which continues to be on an upward trajectory is the rise of practitioners turning freelance. Tony Langham pointed out that the industry depends on freelancers to support agencies but with a number of freelancers, or independent consultants as they prefer to be called, the big issue they face is selling their time versus selling their offering.
Perhaps the most controversial point of the session was the suggestion that digital marketing was no longer a necessary department. Danny Whatmough said we need to stop thinking of digital marketing as a silo, it is integrated into all activity. As digital is spread across entire organisations, these job titles and roles are no longer relevant and for the channel to mature it’s time to turn to the data and audience insight we now have access to and use this to drive campaigns and content.
With so many positive changes predicted for the year ahead there were several key words that came up time and again: confidence, reputation and humanity. Practitioners need to have more confidence in the work they do, the impact they have on reputation and bring humanity into the workplace to positively affect the creative they produce.