Disrupt Thyself

“Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks” – Warren Buffett

If you are a firm that has been born in the last 9-12 months, you are probably enjoying the journey of building a business.  If you are a firm older than that, I hope you are enjoying disrupting your business and learning new ways to work.  And, if you are a firm that has not changed anything and continues to “patch leaks” as referred to above, please disrupt yourself immediately so you can partake in the excitement of this new marketplace where disruption is now the norm, and still remain in business.

What does disrupt yourself mean?  It means:  relook at everything; relook at your offer; relook at your capabilities; relook at your talent base; relook at your client base; relook at your infrastructure, etc.  Take stock of it all – then, take action based on your analysis.  Now.

We, at the PR Council (PRC) have the unique pleasure of serving you as we go through this industry disruption.  The PRC (as you know from our strategic direction we launched at the end of last year) is disrupting itself, too.  We have three focal areas:  1) Set the Standards; 2) Grow the Marketplace for PR & Beyond; and 3) Lead the Evolution.  There is a great deal of work underway to aid you in your disruption, based on these areas.  Below please find a quick update on our strategy.  As always, we’d love to hear from you.  Please let us know how your disruption is going and if there is anything we can do to help.

1.Set the Standards
By now, you will have seen the standard-setting action the PRC has led including the industry work on harassment with our Zero Tolerance Policy; Agency Leader Zero Tolerance Video; sample anti-harassment policy for agencies to adopt; and Managing Harassment Workshop.  You may have seen our Gender Pay Equity statement, and “Gender Pay Equity 10 Principles for Discussion” and corresponding workshop.  And, I hope that you have signed our Diversity Pledge, participated in our Diversity Census and saw how the PRC is now a part of ‘PwC’s CEO Action Pledge’ Program.  With our PRC participation, we are making a statement that the Member Agencies of the PRC are standing together with numerous corporate CEOs who have also signed on for their companies.  Please also stay tuned for our Agency Diversity Resource Guide 2.0 that will be distributed in September at the Diversity Distinction Awards.

In addition to the above, the PRC is helping set standards via our reports on Compensation & Benefits, as well as Business Benchmarking.  Both surveys’ data collection process is underway.  Take the information and use it to disrupt how you are thinking.

Finally, if you were not one of the Member agencies that participated in the News Literacy Project’s Day of Action to fight fake news last week, you can still help the cause.  Please see ourPRC website for more information.  We must not let a standard of accepting ‘fake news’ settle anywhere.

2. Grow the Market for PR Services & Beyond
Part of the marketplace disruption is having our industry move more front and center of the integrated marketing mix, reaching new client touchpoints. To that end, we currently have planned two training workshops: ‘Conquering PR’s Role in the Modern Marketing Mix,’ in the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) training curriculum for their senior marketing professionals.  Our first two courses are in September and October.  One of the messages we will deliver to these course participants is to look at ‘Find A Firm’ on the PRC’s website, if they need help finding a PR firm.  We will explain that there are also case studies that demonstrate great work, found on thewebsite.  So, if you have current, ‘game-changing’ cases that should be featured on the site, please send them in.

Also, members of our CFO community and I, just attended the ANA Financial Management meeting, to learn what is on the mind of procurement leaders, and to join in the conversation about how the marketplace is evolving.  Through conversations at the conference, we were able to discuss how the ‘value’ of PR must be seen in a new way.  My latest PR Week column will focus more on this conversation and ways to grow the market among the procurement professionals.  We still must disrupt some preconceived notions about our industry.

3. Lead the Evolution
One of the ways that the PRC is helping to lead the evolution in the industry and to ensure our Member agencies ‘disrupt’ is by providing new research on ways the marketplace is changing.  One study that we plan to release this month features research done with the CMO Club that looks at how BtoB and BtoC CMOs are incorporating earned into their marketing mix, as well as their thoughts on corporate reputation being linked with brand reputation.  In addition to the quantitative study, the report will include six in-depth interviews with leading CMOs, as well as three interviews with PR agency leaders.  This should provide a good piece of collateral for our Members to use for business development and to help explain the role we can play within the overall enterprise.

Another piece of new research we will release is from our PRCNext Board.  They recently looked at why our industry may be losing our mid-level talent, and what can be done about it.  The early preview of findings is disruptive.  We look forward to sharing with you in September when the insights and information is packaged properly so that agency leaders can take action.

And finally, I know we talk a lot about the need for a greater understanding of data & analytics among our industry.  The need is definitely there.  At the PRC we have offered a great workshop and web series on various aspects of data & analytics from our partner, Avado, which we plan to repeat.  If your firm is not retraining current talent to be data savvy or hiring new team members to supplement your offer in this space, please consider one of these trainings.  Our industry will not truly change, and our perception will not truly evolve to be one that is rich in data & analytics unless all firms that counsel clients have this competency.

Disruption is not easy or painless.  However it is necessary to stay relevant, and in turn thrive.  Go forward and disrupt!