The Dissident Spin Doctor: 2013 sees PR enter the boardroom

by Emma King (@EmmainSA) I can’t tell you what this year’s big business start-up or new social media phenomenon will be (oh, that I wish I could). But we can look at current trends and begin to plan around what we know will happen, so here are my thoughts on the big things we will see in 2013, and how we can prepare our businesses.

1. PR gets (way) more important Emma King

We’ve said this for a long time, but it’s never been truer. In a time of change, it’s important for businesses to manage their reputation efficiently, build relationships, and communicate clearly about what they are doing and why. Corporates realise that these practices need to be built into their very way of working, rather than trying to stick PR Band-Aids over their fundamental business issues.

It’s heartening therefore to see PR entering the boardroom, as with the recent rise of SABMiller’s ex-corporate affairs chief, Sue Clarke, to European MD. It’s recognition that reputation has a very real impact on the bottom line.

Hand in hand with this comes further collaboration between disciplines. I’ve already spoken about the need for integration, and for PR t to sit within creative planning, rather than stuck on as an afterthought here [link to previous article].

Communications professionals arebecoming increasingly responsible for managing the minute-to-minute face of a brand or business – and they cannot do this within virtual silos. Collaboration of talent and experience, irrespective of job titles or department, is crucial for brands to thrive in our super-connected future.

What does this mean for us? Experienced and heavy weight communications professionals need to be included in planning, and have an impact in the boardroom. Those businesses that strike it off a ‘nice-to-have’ rather than an essential, or, even more worrying, entrust their communications to a lightweight PR manager or junior social media intern, do so at their peril.

The Dissident Spin Doctor: The PR agency of the future sits with creative

by Emma King (@EmmainSA) Much has been said about what the ad agency of the future will look like. We all know that the old ways of creating adverts for each separate media channel, and pontificating for ages about this radio execution or that print layout is outdated. We know that integration of all disciplines – in whatever form – needs to be the primary aim; and we know that digital understanding and execution needs to run through everything.

But what about the PR agency of the future? Communications and engagement has to be more than simply farming out a press release to a bank of media names. PR practitioners need to embrace social media and work with online influencers – however we interpret that meaning. That much is a given.

Today PR agencies must make fundamental changes to the old way of working in order to be relevant. These changes need to happen within the agency structure as well as in the expertise and services that they offer. PR agencies need to move away from the constraints that have been set on them, often driven by client perceptions, that their role is simply about media relations, whether that be traditional or social.

When I started at my latest venture as part of a larger agency group, we had a lot of discussion about how the PR function would work – whether we would have a standalone and separately branded business unit or whether it should fall as a truly integrated part of the agency. We decided on the latter – much like the agency did with the digital function – because we felt that in the future we really needed to work in a way in which everything flowed together, and which was not constrained by the division of business units and billing structures.

The Gate Keeper (Chapter 6 In which flames re-kindle)

Tim Broadbent had run TBW Smith Jones Wallace Broadbent and Ndimande for two decades and been an active board member for almost the same time. He had been in the ad business for over 45 years and now, in the twilight of his career, the time when he should have been sinking with steady dignity into his Plett mansion and regular early morning golf, he was staring right down the barrel.

The agency blueprint that rocked the ad market

Two years ago the scene was radically different for Mike Abel, who had just returned from a stint in Australia, to start his own agency. As any agency person departing that market for these home shores will tell you, the market instantly starts talking tail between the legs, didn’t cut it, running for home wounded stuff.

International adland recruitment consultancy opens in Jozi

Fabric, an international recruitment consultancy focused on the media and marketing sectors, has opened its doors in Johannesburg under the leadership of Jacqueline Rose. Fabric also has offices in London and Dubai.

San Reddy to lead PR firm marcusbrewster

The communication industry is rapidly evolving, thanks to the rise of social media, and Reddy identifies its influence as a major challenge for PR firms to respond to and engage with. Communication strategies no longer solely rely on traditional media and firms in his sector need to understand the value of digital media in communicating with consumers. Reddy admits that, while strides have been made in this direction, a lot of work still waits.

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