Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The Future of PR

On Monday afternoon I had the privilege of taking part in The Future of PR debate, hosted by Bournemouth University (an institution with a well deserved reputation for churning out high calibre PR graduates), as part of an ongoing CIPR initiative.

For the seven of us sat around the table - a mix of senior in-house, agency and academia - it was like being back in the classroom.

Fuelled with a lot of coffee, as every PR person I know tends to be, we enthusiastically took part in a two-and-a-half-hour scenario planning exercise, where we considered what PR practise would likely look like in the year 2020, along with our hopes and fears.

Of course, placing a group of PR people in a room together and asking them for their opinion it never going to be difficult to get a debate raging and sure enough we were soon tackling issues of diversity, career progression, respect, evaluation, use of research and the broader public perception of our profession as a whole and the need for positive role models and advocates of good PR.

Undoubtedly, one of the most hotly contested topics was whether PR will still be known as PR in the next 10 years. Some could envisage it becoming absorbed under a broader integrated marketing communications banner, driven in part by the calls for new and emerging digital channels to be ‘owned’ by the PR function. Meanwhile, others could see a clear split emerging between those delivering high-level strategy becoming branded as Management Consultants, and the more tactical end adopting the moniker of Publicist.

One area of unanimous agreement was the fact that whatever it is called the need for PR is here to stay. There are many great PR practitioners doing a lot of great work and it is the responsibility of those of us who have chosen this as our career path, whether in-house, agency or those educating the next cohort of PR undergraduates, to continually promote best practise and extol the benefits of our profession.

Author: Graham Thatcher
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