Chief Marketing & Growth Officer at Mynewsdesk and moderator of FutureComms15, Jonathan Bean shares his thoughts on the state of PR and a glimpse of what to expect from the event...
1. What can we expect from you at FutureComms15?
I will be moderating the event and interviewing Robert Phillips about his new book, Trust me, PR is Dead. My objective for the day is to ensure that we collectively gain as much knowledge as we can on the future direction of PR and communications as our industry goes through one of the most profound evolutions in its history.
2. Why have you chosen to focus on these areas?
Many in the PR and comms world that I speak to are painfully aware of the need for evolution and revolution in the industry. Equally, many of those individuals are reliant on a pay cheque from either a large agency group or corporation whose business models and practices have been born in another era and they are too afraid to rock the boat! Not Robert Phillips. He left his job as Head of Edelman's European business and has done a lot of thinking about the industry since. My objective will be to find out whether Robert is actually an outsider that sees no benefits to the practice of PR and communications or is just a passionate change maker for an industry that he has risen to the top of.
3. Whose talk/s are you most looking forward to and why?
I am looking forward to all of them. It will be interesting to hear Robert Rose's take on the PR industry from a content marketing perspective and I am looking forward to each and every panel discussion with great panellists and subjects that I know are the centre of conversations at many companies. Also, I am looking forward to hearing from David Schneider as I believe we need to take ourselves far less seriously and have a bit of a laugh!
4. Would you say PR is dead?
PR is not dead. In light of digital transformation requirements and the consequent rise in the importance of earned media, PR and communications could be entering its golden age. This to me is not a sign of a dead industry. However, it is certainly needing to evolve to survive and thrive. The lines between PR and marketing are converging. The leader of one of the worlds largest PR agencies recently told me - he has met with more CMOs in the last 8 months than he has done in the last 8 years; and they have all fallen in love with earned media.
While many of the skill sets the traditional PR professional has acquired are still very useful, we need to ensure that these skills are complemented with skills in data, ROI measurement and various digital competencies that aren't necessarily associated with a comms professional.
5. What are your views on the current state of PR & content?
There was the rise of SEO in the 2000's, social media over the last 7 years, and more recently, content marketing. And content marketing has become central to many organisations, but so should PR. Now, there are two schools of thought here. Either the PR professional will be at the centre of their organisation's content marketing strategy and execution, using their brand and corporate story and creating valuable content experiences for their audiences. Or, they will simply be used as one distribution channel / function in their organisation and become the poor relation once again of an expanded marketing department whose budget is shifting towards owned and earned media. It will be different in every organisation but I for one hope that more PR and Comms professionals move into the corporate storytelling role, however it is labelled, in the future.
6. What are your predictions for PR and marketing for the next 12 months?
There will be more debates over the identity crisis (that both marketing and PR professionals love to talk about!). But two things are for sure. There will be a continuing shift from paid to earned and owned media within corporate marketing budgets. Whilst some communications professionals will still be regarded as fluffy with no real impact on their organisations success, many in-house teams and their agencies will continue to produce great work in terms of creative ideas and execution that has real impact on an organisations' business objectives. Let us be judged on the great work that we do and not focus on the identity crisis which no-one can control.