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Welcome Provide a little about me – from Pittsburgh, went to DC to work at Booz Allen, then went to Chicago to work at C-K, then came back to Pittsburgh to lead the PR team at Brunner. I joined BCW in September.
Just joined BCW – a merger of Burson Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe Joined because it’s a perfect combo of the traditional and the new
Global scope and diverse insights, work with the biggest brands – huge respect for our PR expertise.
Before I start talking about 2019, I think we need to first look back at 2018. Let’s set the stage for where we’re at now so that we can better understand where we’re going. So I went back and looked at some of the year’s biggest stories that impacted the industry…I should warn you that before doing this, you should probably have a stiff drink nearby.
Listen, I know – no one goes into PR thinking it’s an easy job. It’s regularly cited as one of the most stressful jobs in America. But the challenges we’re dealing with go beyond crisis communications. We’re at the precipice of some existential changes in our industry and your guess is as good as mine on where we’re going to be in a year, or 5 years, or 10 years. But, like we tell our clients - don’t get too high, don’t get too low. So let’s take a measured look at some realistic things we can expect to see in 2019.
And of course we’re going to start here. The hashtag that launched a million PR conference themes, panel discussions, and keynotes - #fakenews. You can’t talk about PR without talking about Fake News. This theme has colored virtually everything we do.
Nike is one company that’s taken the administration head on and has gone from being one of the most talked about companies in the world to being at the head of one of the most talked about issues in the world. They stated their case, took their stand and said we’ll deal with the fallout – both positive and negative.
But that lack of trust in Facebook isn’t just about the Russians’ interference in our elections – it goes to the very heart of our relationship with Facebook. In a lawsuit that was unsealed this year, it was revealed that Facebook cooked their metrics so that more brands would create videos. It didn’t matter that no one was actually watching them – it was bringing in money and more content. Unfortunately, many brands remain under the social media platforms’ spell when it comes to metrics they should be caring about.
And allllll of this has led to a news media crisis. What’s true? What’s not? Does it even matter anymore? According to the Simmons News Media Trust Index from last month, the average percentage of respondents who rated news sources as trustworthy or very trustworthy was just 40.1% - not a ringing endorsement for journalism in general. A lack of trust in the news media doesn’t bode well for us -
So yeah….I mean, 2018 was great! Can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store for us!
And one of the biggest changes that we’re seeing overall is that PR and Marketing are converging…faster and more often than ever before. This isn’t bad or good. This is just the nature of the business. For instance,
Last year, 47% of agency and 45% of in-house professionals predicted that. This year, that number jumped to 90% for agency and 82% for in-house professionals, with half of all PR professionals stating that this integration will be driven by senior management.
I’ve worked in both situations and there are pros and cons – Pros – closer to the work, a lot less red tape, larger budgets Cons – metrics are wrong – everything’s tied to marketing metrics; less genuine – is this something the company truly believes in or is it being done because Gartner said consumers buy more from companies who do this?
Almost 60% of survey respondents said their organizations had "completely" or "somewhat integrated" the PR/comms and marketing functions. Yet almost 14% of practitioners characterized the collaboration between the two functions as unsuccessful. Another 26% characterized it as neither successful nor unsuccessful.
Today, earned media remains the dominant source of revenue for agencies at 50%, but it is predicted to drop to 37% over the next five years, with shared (23%), owned (23%) and paid (17%) picking up the difference.
Employment at U.S. PR agencies reached an all-time high of 63,000 jobs in August, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s up from 62,100 the month before and breaking the previous record of 62,500. The new record number also represents a 6.6% increase from August 2017.
“"The PR firm could be hiring this documentary filmmaker and pitching the metro newspaper in the morning, and then competing against both of them in the afternoon," says D'Angelo. "Agency collaborators and competitors can change in the same day."
2019 will be a pivotal year for you, for me, and for this industry.
Wanted to start here – this is a quote from the Global Chairman of Ogilvy PR and the new Chairman-Elect of the global trade association – the newly named PR Council (formerly the Council of Public Relations Firms. Maybe some of you have started to hear about this gap – maybe it’s in terms like “traditional” and “contemporary” PR; or maybe you heard about PRSA’s effort to redefine the term “public relations” or maybe you’ve noticed that it’s become a lot harder to get clients to buy into your PR strategies. Whatever the case, the increasing desire for integrated marketing (including PR) is forcing a seismic shift in what many think of when they hear the term “public relations.”
Came across this quote a few years ago from a friend of mine and I love using it. I very much believe in the “ask for forgiveness, not permission” ethos and it’s served me pretty well. And that’s the attitude, combined with the belief in integration, and the ambition to be at the tip of the spear of this shift in our industry that I look for in my team members. I was even featured on a website called RebelsatWork.com. Unfortunately, these qualities are very much the anomaly. PR hasn’t attracted the same boat-rockers, disruptors, and change agents that other fields have. Sure, we’ve got a lot of people who may recognize the problems with our industry but how many have really committed to making change? How many are willing to put in the work to manage upward and make some change in their org, with their clients, within the industry?
Best practices help you avoid standing out in a negative way…but they also prevent you from standing out in a positive way. Stop trying to be what you think we want and embrace what you are
Internships outside of your hometown/school
Do you want to join an agency? A brand? What industry? Why? “Looking for an entry level position” isn’t a goal. It’s the bare minimum.
Want to get into PR? Join PRSA. Want to get into Advertising? Go to AdFed events. But do it virtually too.
If you can’t get me excited about you, how are you going to do that for my company?
Lead without authority, a title, or a position
"How am I doing? How did I do?" Ask for feedback early and often. It shows that you want to improve and that you want to know how to do things better. After every presentation you give, report you complete, article you write, etc. make sure you ask your manager if he/she has any feedback for you. And don't let them get away with just telling you that "you did a good job." Ask them specifically what you could have done better. Seek the negative AND the positive feedback. "Don't worry about it – I got it." One of the things that all managers love is to be able to cross something completely off of their to-do list because they know that someone they trust is taking care of everything – from beginning to end. From doing the actual work to keeping the right people informed, the ability to take something entirely off your manager's plate and do it well is something that will be much appreciated. It will also give you some great experience in showing him/her that you've got what it takes to move up to the next level as well. "I just read/watched/heard…and it got me thinking that…" Learn how to look at everything you read/watch/listen to from a work/client perspective. I want people who are constantly on the lookout for newer, better, more efficient ways to do things and who can apply them to their current work. You should be bringing new ideas to your boss at least as often as he/she is bringing them to you. "You know how we've been doing X? Why do we do it that way?" Question the status quo. Don't just accept things because "that's the way they are." If you're curious about some process or rule or regulation, ask for the background on it. You'll be surprised to discover how many things we do for no other reason than that's the way it's always been done and no one ever bothered to ask. "I don't think that's the best way to do that. How about we do it this way instead?" Please, don't be a yes-man/woman. Disagree with me. Don't just assume that what I say goes. Sometimes, I have no idea and am just throwing ideas out there and want some honest feedback on them. When I was first given a team, the first person I approached was a good friend of mine whom I knew would be candid with me and tell me when I was wrong. I knew that she'd tell me about an awful idea long before it made its way to the client. "Here's what I'd recommend and why." If I've asked you to work on something, don't just send me your research. I want to know your thoughts on it too. You're the one closest to the research. Give me your recommendation and your rationale for it. It shows me that you can think critically and that you can back up your assertions. "Here's what I learned and how I'll do it better next time." Learn how to be your own worst critic. One of the best things you can do is become self-aware. Know where you're strong, know where you're weak, and know where you can improve. "You gotta see/read/listen to this – I know you'll love this." It doesn't always have to be about work. Don't be afraid to send your boss the latest meme if you think he/she will enjoy it. I like to know my team's interests outside of work, and I want them to want to get to know mine as well. "Do you know who I can talk with to understand this better?" If you're struggling with something, I will NOT think of less of you if you ask how you can get smarter on the topic. I'll be impressed that you were self-aware enough to know what you don't know and confident enough to ask about it. I may not know the answer either, but I'll be sure to help put you in touch with someone who will. "What can I do to help? Be proactive. Don't wait for other people to task you with something. Ask if you can help with something. Or better yet, refer to numbers 3 and 4 above.
Also a former President of PRSA Pittsburgh – 2015 and 2016. Now Membership Chair.
Waynesburg University PR Week Keynote
Steve Radick, SVP, Senior Director