Renee Wilson
PR Council

That’s exactly what the colonists wanted when they fought for independence from the British Empire over 200 years ago.  As I write this mid-year post, I realize it is our nation’s Independence Day.  Happy Fourth of July!  It’s not my job to get political, as we are a bi-partisan association, so I won’t.  Although I will say it is an interesting time in our country, and especially for those of us in communications roles.  Our jobs are more important than ever.

However, I do think we are undergoing a revolution in our industry.  Yes, we are evolving but in some respects I see revolution.  Member agencies are being called upon more and more to help lead briefs, and provide critical counsel on matters of ‘earned’ communications and beyond.  One may argue that we always have done this, but the difference now is that we are being recognized for our leadership, skills and capabilities throughout the client enterprise by departments and leaders who didn’t always know us, beyond our traditional clients.  And that is a good thing.

We also are revolutionary in our hunt and attraction for talent.  More and more creative directors, strategic planners and data scientists are joining our teams.  It’s happening slowly but it is happening, and it will continue.  Talent recognizes that agencies with PR at the core of their services are able to create powerful, lasting engagements and quite frankly key to client success.  We are moving beyond storytelling to actual problem solving for our clients.  That is exciting.

As I travel the country conducting local market roundtables, I’m learning of agencies – of all sizes – embracing the call for data & analytics.  Agencies are either hiring it, borrowing it, or acquiring it.  One thing to note from a recent dinner with our agency data & analytic leaders is that sometimes we hinder our own progress in this area, meaning let’s help our account directors learn more about why data & analytics is needed, and the cost of having it a part of our plans.  It’s not free.  That’s part of the change that we are going through. Budgets need to change to reflect this and we must be more confident in our ability to drive this portion of the work.

I guess one of the best examples of the PR revolution that I’ve seen recently is this year’s Cannes Lions Festival.  Say what you will about Cannes, but it’s still the closest thing our industry has to the ‘olympics of marketing.’  For the first time ever, the PR industry’s presence was felt, and not superficially.  Our PR agencies won.  We broke through.  And we did it among the biggest advertising, digital and media companies in the world.  We won in our own category of PR but we also won in many other categories across the festival, further underscoring the power of having campaigns with earned at the core.  It was a noticeable step forward for us and one long overdue.

You say you want a revolution?  I say ‘bring it on.’  Our industry has never been more ready to lead this transformation.  Let’s keep pushing forward.  We still have work to do.  We need to continue to transform our talent base and build new capabilities but that work will never be done.  Change is our only constant.  Let’s lead this revolution.  Happy Fourth of July.

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As part of our PR revolution, we continue to look at different parts of the our agency ecosystems to help agencies build and grow.  Some activity currently underway includes:

  • Based on the success of our NY CMO breakfast, CMO events are planned for this year in Chicago and San Francisco. Please contact Renee Wilson for more information.
  • SHEQUALITY dinners and workshops are planned for across the US for the rest of the year. Please contact Sara Ghazaii for more information.
  • The final course in our masterclass series on Integrated Communications, “Analytics for the Non-Analytical Team” is scheduled for August 16. Please contact Katie Doherty for information on this or any of our other Learning & Development programs.
  • If you are interested in any of the new communities that have formed in the last year, ie, Digital Community or Data/Analytic Community, please contact Tim Koch or Renee Wilson.
  • Our CFO community is working on an engagement with the ANA’s procurement committee to better understand where each other is coming from, as our services have changed so greatly and our modern day communications offering should be valued differently. If you are interested in getting involved, please let Renee Wilson know.