Today at Bournemouth University I attended, along with a mix of peers from the Corporate Marketing Communications Framework, a guest lecture on “The Future Of PR” hosted by :-
- Richard Fogg – Managing Director, CCGroup PR – Rich is the only BAPR grad we know of who bought the company where he did his placement (Selfie Owner)
- Samuel Hall – Corporate Communications Director and Social Strategist at Oracle, the world’s largest software company
- Tom Cheesewright – Applied Futurist, Book of the Future
Richard and Sam are Bournemouth University BA PR graduates whilst Tom is a Media professional who has worked with both Richard and Sam in his previous roles.
This post is reflective of the guest lecture and is mainly what I drew from what the guest speaks were saying. The lecture itself was on the future of the PR industry and how we, as students, will “fit” in after graduation. It offered advice on the industry and what skills we needed to do well, as well as what to look out for in future, For more opinions follow the #BAPRFUT tweets on twitter.
Futurism – Tom Cheesewright
In simple is the task of looking into a company/organisations/industry’s future and predicting what the field will look like in say 15/20 years time from now. This isn’t just based on thin air, it’s based on researching past and current trends whilst also looking ahead and predicting what the future might hold. It’s nothing to do with mind reading, and it will never be entirely right but it helps organisations plan ahead, instead of getting stuck into ruts.
Cheesewright also talked about the industries past and present. Media as a whole used to be dominated by money, as in large parts it still is. However when we talk about dominating the industry, it’s really the control aspect that organisations are interested in. Organisations could buy media space and influence and credibility was sometimes bought rather than earned. Now with the rise of new technologies and new consumption trends, audiences look for further reassurance from other sources. Therefore one source isn’t always credible on it’s own.
Cheesewright talked of the “approval” system that is in place for bigger media outlets. PR’s knew the process and the approval lines a press release would travel through before even being seeing a page of a paper or magazine. No with the online age and bloggers, vloggers and citizen journalism on the rise a press release can be published immediately with no second thought. On the flip side it could be dismissed without a second glance depending on the platform authors views and opinions.
“Power is hard to get. Power is hard to keep. Power is easy to loose” commented Tom, and he’s absolutely right. Control of content is loose, organisations struggle to control their own content and the issues of ownership are detrimental to a campaigns message
Technology has changed the face of our media economy. It’s no longer one way communication, it’s rather a three or more way conversation, it’s no longer a company talk to a consumer, it’s a company talking to a consumer – the consumer talking back and others then joining in the conversation. At the end of the day the organisation no longer has control.
Cheesewright ended with saying that the future of PR lays within diversity, which is true in so many forms of the word. PR needs to be diverse in what it delivers, how it adapts to change and who it opens itself too.
Future Talent – Richard Fogg
We, as students, are always told about what we need to be and what we need to do to succeed in PR and in our future careers, so it was nice to hear a PR professional say that you can’t have everything.
Foggs talk was based on what the future of pr looked like and what he believes practitioners will need in future. Interestingly enough academic perspective was his top thought. Relating back to my placement year I found using academic literature to support ideas was helpful – it gave me a basis as to why I was suggetsing an idea and what it could possibly achieve. Data analysis and emotional creativity were his next elements followed by multimedia content and social dexterity.
They all made perfect sense, as with the changing world we need to be aware of whats going on around us and what popular trends we need to be clued up on. Social is becoming more and more important as the years go by – it’s prominence in everyday life shows organisations the power it can have. Gone are the days of sending out a press release and expecting coverage, PR is PR it needs to stand out and shine from the hundreds of other releases from other organisations. Do something different with it use multimedia assets available and catch the eye of the media and the consumer.
Fogg suggested ways in which we could become more valuable to a company, listed below. Having a commercial side to you made complete sense to me after working at Honda on my placement year. Your campaign must be commercially viable, what ever campaign you create it has to have a purpose whether its building brand presence or aimed at selling X amount of products.
- Don’t be a purist
- Get in their heads
- Be commercial
- Continually learn
I think Foggs most powerful words were ” Don’t become obsolete in an increasingly mechanical world”. Fogg suggested 6 ways in which we could keep current and make ourselves valuable to companies.
- Be Different
- Question – “Think in questions it sharpens the mind”
- Follow the future
I took a lot from Foggs talk, it emphasized that we need to work continually and not rest on any laurels. Just as PR changes so do we, and we need to be ready to adapt constantly. He commented on the hierarchical agency structures, comparing them to those of the army, boxing people within their roles and making it a monotonous challenge. Similarly in In-House the routes are often similar and long winded,which often put people off and can detriment to the enjoyment of a job.
The Corporate Context – Samuel Hall
In Sam’s talk I didn’t take as many notes, not out of disinterest but the opposite . Sam touched upon the corporate side of PR, being a cost center and always have to prove your worth to an organisation.
The battle ground between PR, advertising and marketing is one which is fought daily. Ownership is skewed and unlike before where everything was boxed neatly and everyone had their remit, the specialisms share aspects which many want and others would rather not look after.
Digital is one which crops us quite often – is it marketing or is it PR? Who owns it? Who talks to the people who have questions. It come’s down to the decision of who wants to take care of it – it’s not something they can be left to simmer, it’s a custard that needs careful attention and dedication.
Hall talks of influence about what it is “Its real and it’s about being relevant”. Trying to be an opinion changer using techniques from the 90’s won’t get you anywhere anymore, neither will a lack of modern technologies. Influence is quite rightly real – you need to have something substantial to be able to creative, develop and culture influence.
Another key piece I took from Halls talk was the idea of information but still being a gift. We often forget what we have at our feet and look up to the skies for something else, its a necessity to continually learn and not immediately jump for something we think may be better.
Storytelling cropped up towards the end of Halls speech, it’s power and high credibility with audiences and consumers means its a useful tool for influence. I never really thought about Storytelling as a tool until today – its something you just assume will work but used correctly it can help shape brand image and credibility.
Just as in PR, it will change and so will we, but we need to stick to our roots. The basis of what PR is is in academia and in reality it differs slightly but its a specialism within itself – we can’t become so broad minded that we loose sight of what we are actually doing.
Hall makes a valid point about PR – it’s no longer just media relations, it’s a whole lot more. It’s strategic, it’s reactive and proactive and its adaptive. More CEO’s want to know about PR and what it does, how we measure it and what the conversation is from the other side. Let’s not loose this interest by becoming out dated.
The future of PR lies in diversity, change and adapting to the media surroundings. We as future PR’s need to be aware, switched on and ready for what’s to come, we must plan ahead, strategise and predict what future elements will affect our organisation.
Our networks are important, just as our influence is. Our personal network of contacts, friends, colleagues will help us grow into better PR’s, we help shape our brands with our networks and the places our network can takes us maybe be further than we could go alone.
Ownership and knowledge of what we do is important, without understanding – whether that be academic or practical, we cannot grow and develop on skills and therefore the industry cannot.
Cheesewright produced the three C’s; Curate, Create and Communicate, a firm basis on which every PR should look into whether 18 or 81.
As I mentioned above this is what I personally took from the guest lecture, feel free to agree or disagree with anything I’ve said in the comments below. For more thoughts on the guest lecture follow the #BAPRFUT tweets on twitter,
Final Year PR student at Bournemouth University