The Public Relations Industry in 10 Years

Part
01
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Part
01

Innovative Approaches To Public Relations

Two companies that are practicing modern/innovative approaches to public relations are A.S. Watson Group and The Infant And Toddler Forum (ITF).

A.S. WATSON GROUP - GIVE A SMILE CAMPAIGN

CHALLENGE/OBJECTIVE
INNOVATIVE/MODERN PR STRATEGIES
RESULTS/SUCCESS METRICS

THE INFANT AND TODDLER FORUM (ITF): THE THINK TODDLER SIZED CHALLENGE

CHALLENGE/OBJECTIVE
  • The challenge/objective was to raise the awareness of the need for parents with children aged 1-4 to "Think Toddler Sized" at mealtimes and challenge them to make use of the ITF guidelines and create something that is easy for all parents to follow for each meal.
INNOVATIVE/MODERN PR STRATEGIES
RESULTS/SUCCESS METRICS
  • The campaign produced 51,867 platform visits via organic and paid social media activity, as well as partner efforts.
  • A total of fifteen blog coverages, 94 mainstream coverages, and seven parenting publications were produced. The total reach was estimated at 144.3 million.
  • The platform visits surpassed the target at 107%.
  • There were 7,062 parents, or about 13.6% of all visitors, actively engaging on the platform, which was more than 182% over the original target.
  • A total of 96 ideas were produced, which was reportedly 285% over target.
  • A sensible and commercially feasible concept was identified, along with two separate runner-up concepts.

Research Strategy:

To determine the companies practicing modern/innovative approaches to public relations, we searched for award-winners in PR innovations. We found the Stevie Awards gold winners for 2018 and 2019 in PR Innovation. We also searched further for these campaigns and found out that they have received other awards from other award-giving bodies. From their approaches, we selected those that are not common, such as the use of augmented reality and the facial recognition artificial intelligence system for the "Give a Smile" campaign. The implementation of games for continuous parents' engagement is the innovative strategy of ITF which is the first co-creation initiative directed to UK parents. The case studies provide success metrics for each campaign.
Part
02
of three
Part
02

Public Relations Function Innovations

Two companies that have changed their approach to the public relations (PR) function are Reebok and NBC.

Findings

1. Reebok

  • Reebok changed its approach to the public relations function by requiring its public relations, digital content team "and social media teams to work together."
  • The company called its new, cross-functional team the "Newsroom."
  • One reason why Reebok implemented that mandate was to "promote[] collaboration throughout each stage of a digital marketing campaign's development. "
  • Another reason why the company implemented its changed approach to PR is because each of those three departments were centered around marketing. Thus, by having all three groups work together on the same team, each is able to provide unique insights about customer perspectives.
  • By having the three teams work as one unit, each group is able to learn from each other, plus find unique ways to showcase the company's products.
  • The Newsroom model also helps the company "engage with its target audience consistently."
  • Reebok's revamped organizational structure differed from the traditional approach in that each of those three departments were previously individual departments. In fact, those departments used to operate so independently of one another that one source stated that they "operated in silos" with separate initiatives and goals.
  • When the three departments were operating independently, the company's digital marketing campaigns were not integrated, according to Reebok executive Blair Hammond. That executive further commented on the company's changed approach to public relations in stating: "But that's not the Reebok of today. Now, we take those three functions and put them together into a cross-functional group."
  • Reebok Digital Content Director Blair Hammond commented on the benefits of the changed approach to public relations in stating: "In the Newsroom, PR, social and digital content come together and have an equal voice. These groups all have an equal seat at the table and make sure we're not just passing consumers off at each stage of the consumer journey."

2. NBC

  • NBC changed its approach to the public relations function by merging its PR, promotions, and marketing departments into an all-in-one communications/marketing department
  • NBC's revamped organizational structure differed from the traditional approach in that each of those three departments were previously individual departments.
  • Lauren Kapp, who was a Vice President at NBC News Communications, was appointed to lead that new, merged department. She explained the reasoning for the tri-department merger in stating: "We work so closely together, but as the industry changes and the media landscape evolves, we just found ourselves working more closely, and it makes sense to have us more cohesive. We’re always looking for ways to do things better.
  • In structuring the new department, NBC retained each department's whole team and thus didn't implement any layoffs from the merger.
  • Though NBC implemented this changed approach several years ago, we found this job post which appears to show the company's continued PR and marketing combination.

Your Research Team Applied the Following Strategy:

To find companies that have changed their approach to the public relations function, we reviewed a large volume of articles published on that topic. Specifically, we focused our research on companies that have realigned their public relations operations within the companies' organizational structures. The sources we found that published those types of articles came from either media sources such as Forbes to marketing sources such as AdWeek. From this approach, we were able to identify two companies that have changed their approach to public relations internally. Those sources also provided information about the companies' reasoning behind their changed approaches, but did not mention any success metrics whatsoever. We did, however, include commentary about how the realignment benefited the company strategically, though without specific mention of success metrics.

We were surprised by just how limited information was about companies that have changed their approach to the public relations function. Most of the information we found pertained to advertising agencies that provide combined public relations and marketing services. Thus, examples of non-agency companies that have revamped their public relations function was extremely sparse. For those reasons, we included Reebok and NBC as examples thereof, in spite of the fact that they implemented their changed approach to PR a few to several years ago. Both companies we included are progressive companies because they have proactively addressed the issues facing the PR function by reorganizing the structure of the company in support thereof.
Part
03
of three
Part
03

Public Relations Industry Change Drivers

After an exhaustive search through credible sources, it appears that insights into the biggest drivers of change in the US public relations industry, along with information on how the drivers are anticipated to contribute to its decline, over the next 5-10 years is unavailable in the public domain.

PUBLIC RELATIONS INDUSTRY, UNITED STATES

  • According to IBISWorld, the public relations (PR) industry in United States has experienced a 5.3% increase in revenue from 2013-2018. The total revenue in 2018 was approximately $16.2 billion.
  • External competition serves as a constant threat to the PR industry, as public relations firms contend with advertising companies and law firms to regulate customers' notoriety and connection to the public, likely clients employ digital media for outreach purposes, and advertising businesses continue to provide identical services.
  • Research shows that the PR sector experiences difficulty in engaging with minority specialists, namely those that are Hispanic, Asian, or black. Studies also reveal that it is necessary to develop inclusive companies that portray the alternating face of the world's economy.

PUBLIC RELATIONS STATISTICS IMPACTING PR PROFESSIONALS

  • In the last five years, public relations agencies have expanded by 30%. Meanwhile, in the coming years, public relations is expected to continue playing a vital role for companies.
  • About 60% of public relations executives maintain that influencer marketing in public relations is growing in importance. Many also believe it will be crucial to public relations operations in the future.
  • More than three-fourths (80%) of the PR specialists, along with marketers, think that digital storytelling will dominate communications.
  • Almost half of public relations specialists responding to a survey from the USC Annenberg School for Communications & Journalism believe that in the future, marketing and public relations will co-function more jointly.

ADDITIONAL FINDINGS

  • According to the Global Communications Report, about 88% the of respondents said digital storytelling will influence the future of public relations, while 61% of the participants chose branded content.
  • The most significant communication trend impacting public relations within the upcoming five years is expected to be digital storytelling.
  • A Salesforce report found that about 59% of companies have similar marketing and digital ad budgets and employ similar teams to produce campaigns.
  • The integration of advertising, marketing, and communications departments will help lower the cost of campaigns, while assuring that platforms for communication, advertising, and marketing are function adequately.

Research Strategy:

Our research began by searching for information in PR industry research reports on the United States market. We looked for data on sites like IBISWorld, Markets and Markets, among others. We wanted to see if the industry reports mentioned future predictions for the PR industry in the United States which would include drivers of change. However, this strategy was not fruitful as the information we came across was about the PR industry market size, growth rate, etc. We believed that this approach would work as industry reports publish information about trends and growth forecasts for industries in their reports, and could have shared information on the United States' PR industry.

Next, we looked for information on sites specializing in the PR industry such as PR Week, PR News, and PR Daily, among others. Our goal was to use reports and articles published by these websites which could have included information on the future/forecast of the PR industry in the next 5-10 years. With this strategy, we found information on the current state of the PR industry in the United States, industry trends, etc, but there were no details on drivers that may impact the growth or revenues of the PR industry. We believed that this strategy would work as sites like these are the leading source of news and analysis of the public relations industry.

Afterward, we explored the sites of PR agencies in the United States like Edelman, Weber Shandwick, and Fleishman Hillard, among others. Our aim behind this strategy was to look for blogs, articles, white papers, publications, etc. of these companies containing their assessment on how the industry is shaping up, the latest trends, drivers, future predictions, etc. However, we could not find any relevant information. Instead, we found information on the performance and rating of the PR agencies, etc. We believed that this strategy would work as sometimes, major companies publish internal research and reports on their blogs or resources page, which could offer relevant data.

Finally, we searched for business media publications containing any commentary or quotes from marketing or PR industry experts published on sites like Business Insider, Fortune, Marketing Week, among others. We also looked for interviews of executives of the PR agencies on websites such as CNBC and CEO Magazine, among others to see if any executives forecast the PR industry and mentioned factors that could impact the industry, but there were no such interviews available. Our goal with this strategy was to see if any industry experts commented on the drivers or trends in the PR industry, which will affect the future of the PR industry. We believed that this approach would work as media sites usually provide articles on various businesses, as well as opinions of industry experts, which could contain useful data.

We were unable to locate reports or articles mentioning the drivers that are expected to contribute to the industry's decline over the next 5-10 years in United States. One of the probable reasons for unavailability of such information could be that the United States PR industry may not decline in the coming years, and the PR industry may experience positive growth.
Sources
Sources