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PR and journalism have a long and deep symbiotic relationship. So in this first episode of Smoke Signal for 2022 I thought it timely to take a deep dive into the current state of journalism and predictions on how the media industry will continue to evolve in the year ahead. The past two years has seen news media rise in importance and relevance as audiences turn to trusted sources for health and economic information. As we look forward to 2022 the question becomes what’s next?Senior Research Associate at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Nic Newman has studied trends in media and journalism for over a decade. He has just released his latest research paper, Journalism, Media, and Technology Trends and Predictions 2022 which looks at the state of the profession and the key challenges, and opportunities, for the year ahead. The research encompassed 246 senior editors and publishing leaders from over 52 countries, including a number of senior leaders in Australia. Here’s a few highlights from the report that we discussed in this podcast.Revenue models continue to evolveIn recent years revenue models have substantially changed. Where it used to be advertiser-focused it has shifted to be much more reader-lead in the form of subscriptions, memberships, donations and events. The wider adoption of subscription formats for music (i.e. Spotify) and entertainment (i.e. Netflix) has paved the way for news media to more actively adopt this model. However, there is a limit to  the  number of subscriptions people are willing to pay for, and Nic believes we are getting towards that limit. Generational divideA real challenge for publishers is being able to engage audiences of all ages. 95% of all digital news subscriptions are paid by those over 30 years old.Younger audiences consume news in very different ways. For example, those under 25 are unlikely to have brand loyalty; are more likely to be spending their time on social platforms like Tik Tok and Instagram etc; and they want convenience.The role of journalist becomes ever more challengingThere’s a lot of noise on the media industry being in crisis, but in fact 60% of media leaders in the survey said revenues had increased over the past year. Only 8 per cent said revenue had fallen. That reflects the rise in subscriptions revenue and the bounce back of digital advertising as advertisers look to back trusted media brands.Journalists on the front line are facing burnout - the relentless 24/7 news cycle; needing to work across ever more formats and outlets; and then on top of that the global pandemic and associated stress – addressing this is high on the media leader’s agenda for 2022.Big tech and mediaYou can’t talk media without talking big tech. While there has been much made of the recent revenue sharing agreements that Google and Facebook have made with publishers around the world over the past year, the trouble with these according to Nic is that there is not much transparency around the deals and it was mostly the big media companies getting the lions share of the money. This is not necessarily good for audiences; not good for innovation; not good for local news; and not good for competition. You also want to ensure media companies aren’t overly dependent on income from platforms as they need to be independent enough to robustly report on these same platforms.The take-out for comms professionalsSmart brevity. In this world where there are so many different choices and people are short of time, how can you get your point across quickly, effectively. Using the right format at the right time. 
The global pandemic has fundamentally reshaped the communication profession, with communications becoming more materially important to the C-suite than ever before. So, as we look ahead to 2022, what does this mean for the role of corporate communicators?Research from Edelman in the US looks at exactly this question. The report – The Future of Corporate Communications   – was based on a survey of over 200 Chief Communication Officers across the US. In this episode, I am joined by co-author Geren Raywood, who gives us her take on some of the key opportunities, and challenges, facing communication professionals in the year ahead.On the role of Comms today: The strategic positioning of corporate communications within the organisation has fundamentally changed. The pandemic pushed the discipline forward in the way that any good crisis does - communicators had to be in the room to be able to help the c-suite to help maintain stakeholder engagement and brand reputation through the global pandemic. It provided a lot of opportunities to elevate the role of communications.On employee engagement: Employee communication has moved way up the agenda and this is not just a passing fad. The underlying issue is the social contract between employer and employee is changing... the fundamental expectation that employees have for the work experience, how an organisation treats them and how an organisation engages with the outside world is changing and the power dynamic is shifting. On organisations taking a view on societal issues: It is here to stay. 73% of CCOs say societal issues have changed their communication agenda in the past 12 months. That is huge.On measurement: There is increasing expectation from the business to prove results. Communicators are moving from counting the volume of communication or basic channel performance to measuring the impact of communication on behaviour. Are they moving audiences – whether external or internal – to do a certain action?On the role of the communicator: There’s been an expansion from just media relations or internal comms skills to teams needing to have advanced digital, advanced multimedia, brand PR, and increasingly today, data and analytics skills – the demand for communication has never been stronger.On CommsTech: The first challenge of CommsTech is defining CommsTech - The tools, tech and data that allow communicators to precisely target, measure and shape perceptions and behaviour at the individual level… Using AI, analytics and Natural Language Processing to mine insights and then apply those insights into communication strategy to reach an audience where they are.On the opportunity in 2022: The pandemic, for all its hardship and tragedy, has created this moment for communication to take centre stage in the organisation and claim its position as fundamental to business performance and business success. The number one item on the agenda in the coming year is not to lose that momentum – how do you institutionalise those changes made during the pandemic.   
In this episode I speak with Tom Watson who is both an academic, currently emeritus professor in the Faculty of Media & Communication at Bournemouth University in England, and an esteemed author, writing about measurement and evaluation of communications for the past 30 years, including being co-author of three editions of the seminal textbook Evaluating Public Relations.Tom takes us back to the origins of PR measurement and evaluation; way back in fact to the first President of the United States, George Washington, who wanted to know what people thought of him – not too different to the goal of every politician today.Tom describes the global pandemic as the biggest ever communication measurement and evaluation scenario ever –the greatest data collection on behaviour change and attitudes we have ever seen. In many ways a golden age for communication measurement and evaluation because the outcome of communication has become so vitally important.Communication professionals are very good at words, narrative, creation of stories but in Tom’s words, we have to grow up and become adept handlers of data how to gather it, how to process it, and how to express it.“Gather the data anyway you can because any data is better than guesswork.”Tom points practitioners in the direction of a German Model called Communication Controlling which has at its core a goal to show the business value of communications – what was the impact on the strategic and financial targets of the organisation. To this end, Tom warns practitioners off using the term ROI, referring his research with Ansgar Zerfass -when management talk about ROI they are talking about return on employed capital, when communications talk about ROI we are talking to intangibles that can’t be added to the balance sheet. Even if we have one number – an AVE, for example, (which Tom describes as being a classic example of the statement of easy, simple and wrong) – it isn’t an amount that actually exists.Tom puts it simply - the idea of one metric is not reality. We have to have a portfolio of measurements – being both tangible and tangibles.This is the latest in a series of podcasts released during Measurement Month. Catch the other podcasts on this blog, on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts.
November is Global Measurement Month, and in association with the Public Relations Institute of Australia, this month Smoke Signal Podcast will feature a series of episodes with global leaders in PR measurement, all under the theme of “reimagining measurement and evaluation”.In the next episode of the series I am joined from London by Allison Spray who is H+K Strategies Global Head of Data + Analytics as well as an International Board Director for AMEC.Allison describes measurement and evaluation as being like a tailored suit – there is no one size that fits all.  Every client is different, every business has different goals and measurement needs to reflect that reality.As part of her role with AMEC, Allison lead a working group for developing a PR planning Framework. For Allison, It all begins and ends with strategy – what do you want to happen and back track from there. “What is it you are trying to achieve and do the metrics I am tracking right now prove that I have done that – it is about thinking beyond what data I can collect easily and moving to what do I need to know.”The Global pandemic has seen everyone get a lot more fluent in the language of data and statistics – we have had to, it has been coming at us everyday. But data has been around a long time, however the scale of data we are talking about now is literally incomprehensible. Allison cites a fascinating statistic: by 2025 it is estimated humans will interact with data every 18 seconds – that makes data science, AI and engineering increasingly important for the future of communications but for many professionals big data seems miles away from what they are doing day to day.And Allison accepts that the volume of data makes traditional manual analysis almost impossible, rather what is coming is augmented analytics. The use of enabling technologies or machine learning to help analyse the data, making it digestible and helping practitioners get to the insight faster.Brandwatch, Signal AI and Quiid are all examples of technology and tools that, often with engaging visualisations, help make sense of the data. If Allison could change one thing, it would be that measurement doesn’t only come at the end – so many pitches measurement is literally the last slide in the deck. Knowing what you want to achieve and working backwards.“Measurement needs to be throughout – it needs to be in the front, in the middle at the end. Measurement is an iterative process, constantly evolving, and that is the most value measurement can bring.”  We will be releasing a new Measurement Month Podcast every Monday throughout November. Be sure to subscribe via the blog, iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. 
November is Global Measurement Month, and in association with the Public Relations Institute of Australia, this month Smoke Signal Podcast will feature a series of episodes with global leaders in PR measurement all under the theme of “reimagining measurement and evaluation in public relations”.This first episode of the series features Dr Glenn O’NeiI. Based in Geneva Switzerland, Glenn is founder of OWL RE, leading evaluation, research and communication projects for NGOs, UN agencies and international organisations.Glenn strongly believes measurement and evaluation needs to both prove the value of communication and improve the practice of public relations.“Working with the NFP sector, NGOs and UN Agencies there is really a desire to use measurement and evaluation in a way that also helps continual learning – and that is important. It becomes as much about proving what we’ve done has made a difference as how do we improve for the future,” Glenn says.Showcasing the application of measurement in practice, Glenn uses this example on a Euro 33 million anti-smoking campaign #exsmokers are unstoppable which he reviewed and assessed to show the opportunity, and challenges, with measurement and evaluation for PR practitioners.In summing up this campaign, Glenn says monitoring and evaluation done well can really support the communicators the contribution they are making based on sound data.To move the dial on measurement and evaluation, Glenn believes research, evaluation and monitoring should be at least five to ten per cent of every professional communicators workload every day.Glenn is an advocate for the profession jumping from measuring outputs (number of people reached, tonality, share of voice) to measuring outcomes (changing in behaviour, attitude and knowledge).“PR is great at deliverables but the measurement remains superficial. Jumping from outputs to the outcomes is not easy but today is not impossible. To measure outcomes it comes back to asking, consulting or observing people; how can algorithms and technology help us as communicator more effectively and efficiently look at behaviour change.”To achieve this, measurement should start from the beginning of the communication program to set a baseline. At the very start, at a minimum, estimate where the organisation is and where it wants to get to. Then set up points to monitor throughout the campaign.We will be releasing a new Measurement Month Podcast every Monday throughout November. Be sure to subscribe via the blog, iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts.
A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal - The impact of COVID-19 on PR and CommunicationAt the start of the global pandemic as the world was turned upside down I put a hold on this podcast. So for the first episode back I thought it only right to look at how COVID-19 has impacted the world of PR and communications. Stephen Waddington says COVID-19 had an “immediate and dramatic effect on PR and communications”. He authored a report for the UK Government Communication Service titled COVID-19 Communication Advisory Panel Report to look at what the impact those experiences may have on professional communication over the long term.In this episode we speak to Stephen Waddington direct from his house boat on the River Thames to discuss some of the key take-aways from his report: Communication as a strategic management and leadership function. Professional communications was absolutely critical for organisations throughout COVID-19 and has ensured professional communicators a seat at the ‘table’. A significant increase in focus in employee engagement and internal communications as workers went remote. We have let people into our home and it has had a humanising effect on society, and how leaders communicate. We’ve discovered new channels and ways to communicate to overcome the absence of face to face communication but we need to find a balance.An acceleration to digital media. More than just more channels what we saw was innovation and creativity we’ve seen emerge across all aspects of communication.Impact of disinformation and misinformation. Especially concerning was the role of social networks to quite easily disrupt and cause harm in terms of misinformationStephen Waddington writes a regular blog and weekly newsletter, follow him on Wadds Inc here https://wadds.co.uk/blog
Measurement, Evaluation and Learning is how we should be reframing the discussion around metrics in public communication according Jim Macnamara, in a special Measurement Month episode of PR podcast Smoke Signal.
In the final episode of Smoke Signal for 2019 I share a summer reading list for PR practitioners, speaking to a number of practitioners turned authors who have recently – or will soon –become published authors.
This month, in partnership with the Public Relations Institute of Australia, we mark Global PR Measurement Month by speaking with adjunct professor, lecturer, researcher, presenter - Fraser Likely - from his hometown in Ottawa Canada.Having an industry level discussion to highlight the importance of measurement has never been more critical. According to a recent study into continuing professional development conducted by the Public Relations Institute of Australia, measurement and evaluation is one of the top three priorities for Australia’s professional communicators.While Fraser Likely is today synonymous with PR measurement and evaluation, for 30 years, while running his own communication management firm, Fraser never spoke about measurement and evaluation. It was simply performance management.And while the tools, technology and techniques are now more sophisticated, at its heart measurement and evaluation is still all about performance - whether that be of a program, a campaign, a team or an organisation.Fraser defines seven units of measurement: we can measure a specific communication activity and associated messages; a project or campaign; programs such as internal comms or issues management; how PR helps the whole organisation achieve its business goals; how organisation do in regard its environment and society around it (CSR or reputation); the performance of individual practitioners; or the overall communication function and what value it has to an organisation. With measurement and evaluation more sophisticated than ever, the greatest question today is what is the uptake among practitioners? For Fraser, engagement with measurement and evaluation goes hand in hand with the role communications plays in an organisation. Those professional communicators with a seat at the table and part of the strategic management process will look at measurement and evaluation in a much more sophisticated way.
In the final episode of this special Smoke Signal series looking at mental health in the PR sector, Sophie Holland shares the latest research and insight coming out of the UK.Sophie heads up the mental health research team at UK-based insight agency Opinium. Having studied Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford, Sophie is dedicated to giving people greater understanding on the topic of mental health so we can more effectively take a preventative rather than a reactive approach. Opinium recently released a report titled Opening the conversation: mental Wellbeing at Work and in a survey of 400 PR professionals in the UK to be released this month, Opinium found: -89% have struggled with their mental health in the last 12 months that is stress, anxiety, feeling low/ down, panic attacks, exhaustion/ burnout, stress, other mental health problems), versus 62% in wider worker population- Only 31% of those who struggled took any time off work for their mental health (vs. 36% wider workers). Compared to 63% for physical health (vs. 59% wider worker population).
Andy Wright is co-chair of the Mentally Healthy Change Group – founded by a group of leaders from across the creative,marketing and media sector with the aim to de-stigmatise mental health as a topic of discussion and help facilitate the conversation between leaders in the industry and employees.The Mentally Healthy Change Group evolved from a survey of over 1800 workers across the creative, media and marketing sectors – the biggest study ever done into mental health in the sector – which found 56% were displaying mild to severe levels of depression, 55% were displaying mild to severe levels of anxiety. The Mentally Healthy Change Group evolved from a survey of over 1800 workers across the creative, media and marketing sectors – the biggest study ever done into mental health in the sector – which found 56% were displaying mild to severe levels of depression and 55% were displaying mild to severe levels of anxiety. To help set the sector on the right path, the Healthy Change Group recently released a set of minimum standards to put a line in the sand. Since being launched, 45 businesses and agencies have signed up – including Facebook, Edelman and Havas to name a few. In our discussion, Andy describes the goal of the minimum standards as two- fold – to bring the topic of mental health front of mind for employers and a framework for employees to raise issues if they feel they are not being delivered on.
For the past 6 years I have had the privilege of working closely with the Margo Lydon, CEO of Superfriend – a not for profit workplace mental health and wellbeing organisation that was established by the Superannuation industry.Margo has been in and around the industry for the past 20 years and when it comes to raising awareness of mental health and wellness I have never met anyone more passionate than Margo and I have no doubt you’ll hear that too as you listen to Margo.In this special episode to mark World Mental Health Day today, Margo shares her insights into why the workplace, all workplaces, are so important in supporting individual’s mental health.
To mark World Mental Health Day I am thrilled to launch the first in a series of episodes this week discussing the topic of mental health and wellness in the PR sector.These are the statistics: 1 in 5 Australians workers are suffering a mental health condition in any 12 month period; 45% of the population aged 16-85 will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime – that is 1 in 2 of us!To raise awareness and provoke discussion of this topic in PR, I have asked senior PR leaders from around the world to share their three wishes when it comes to mental health and wellness in the PR sector.In this first episode I speak with UK practitioner Jane Fordham who coined the three wishes concept as a way to get PR leaders to share their three wishes, three tips, three kernals of advice for moving the discussion on mental health forward in a positive way.
Matthew Gain moved from agency to in house three-and-a-half years ago with a clear goal of working at one of the FAANGs (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google). He wanted to work in a growth industry, to immerse himself in big data and he was a true believer that the future of media was going to be in global digital brands.He landed at Audible, not in a communications role though, but as country head of the emerging business. Now, as Head of Audible in JAPAC and India, Matthew shares his journey from PR consultant to running a growing technology company across the region, and one that is owned by one of the world’s biggest growth company – Amazon, no less.Listen here, watch on YouTube or download on iTunesAudible’s mission is to unlock the power of the spoken word. It allows people to consume books at times and in places they previously couldn’t – while driving a car, exercising, cooking or cleaning. Matthew notes that 84% of audible users say they still love the smell of books, so Audible is not about replacing physical books, but creating enjoyable entertainment experiences that keep people coming back.The competition, in Matthew’s view, is not Netflix or other subscription services but time and attention. To grab this attention, Audible is increasingly focusing on original content –working with authors in Australia, movie stars in Bollywood, actors in off-broadway theatre – creating great experiences that are brought to life for listening first and foremost.At its core Audible is a data business and this, Matthew says, was one of the steepest learning curves in the move from PR.“Sometimes I think the data knows more about us than we do ourselves,” Matthew says. “At Audible, the data informs our strategy. Every single person I work with is fluent in data and understand how to use data to inform the decisions they make. It is a huge a part of our day and part of every conversation.”Matthew describes a future where voice becomes ever more prevalent – we use voice to engage with the devices around us, today’s smart speakers become smarter personal assistants, and the vast majority of people – especially non-english speakers – use voice to interact with the internet and technology.After three and a half years Matthew says he’s still learning and shares a great anecdote about Audible for Dogs – that is some PR campaigns are just that, for PR, and not necessarily profitable business ventures. It shows you can’t take the PR out of the guy.In the news this episode I discuss the fallout from a recent article in the UK Guardian that revealed a lobbying firm run by Lynton Crosby – CTF Partners – allegedly built a network of unbranded websites and news pages on facebook for dozens of clients that were reportedly promoted as independent online news sources.I thought astroturfing was something I’d left behind in the university textbooks but it seems it is alive and well and ti seems has only become more prevalent in the age of social and digital media. With one industry veteran telling the UK’s PR week that astroturfing is “just another tool in the PR box that is widely used.”This is a story that is worth watching as it evolves.
A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal Episode 18- Postcard from CannesThe Cannes International Festival of Creativity is the only global stage where so many pieces of our industry come together at one time to celebrate creativity and celebrate what we do as an industry.Against the sun-soaked backdrop in the South of France, the Cannes Lions are the industry’s premiere awards for creativity. PR in many ways is the new kid on the block but in an age when ”earned creative” is more valuable than ever they are increasingly making their presence felt.. PR stalwart Michelle Hutton this year held the privileged role of President of the PR Jury – a role she describes as a “career highlight” -and in this episode gives us insight into how the jury whittled down close to 2000 entries from 67 countries to six Gold Lions (and excitingly – or perhaps perplexingly – for the first time one that originated from a PR agency)Michelle said the Jury came together around three clear guidelines. Firstly they wanted to see campaigns that had PR as an input, not just an output. That is, work that was designed with PR thinking not just PR that amplified someone else’s creative. Secondly, the work had to have a clear insight that the creative then developed around. Thirdly, great measurement that looked at not only outputs but the real impact of the campaign.Michelle said the jury really wanted to not only recognise and reward great work but set benchmarks about where the industry should be going. Some of her favourite campaigns were: -Mums For Safety Campaign https://www.lendlease.com/au/company/about-us/safety/mums-for-safety/ created by Sydney’s Houston Group for Lend Lease and took home a Silver Lion-#Stopmithania https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYXHLrOqSy8 created by Leo Burnett for HDFC Bank in India to encourage blood donations won a Silver Lion-The Land of the Free Press https://tbwa.com/work/land-of-free-press by TBWA/Helsinki FInland also took home a Silver Lion for its defence of press freedomMichelle distils two key takeouts from the festival: •There is no doubt that earned creative is winning across the festival. Work that earns the right to be part of the conversation is not just successful in awards but is the type of work that brands need today to be successful. It is yet another proof point that the industry is well placed, this is our time and we should be showing up at the C-Suite to have bigger and broader conversations around how we can protect and promote brands•“he brilliant work that stood out was those that used data to underpin earned-centric thinking to identify the insight; to target the audience; to amplify the work; and to measure the impact. So for those looking to future proof our work data and analytics has never been more important.Michelle said Australia again punched above its weight at the festival and so she is excited to return to Australia later this month when she returns to take the reigns as Edelman’s Australia CEO and Chief Growth Officer for Asia Pacific.“We have some fabulous talent in Australia and in many respects we have been ahead of the curve for many years and I have no doubt we can continue to do that,” Michelle said.“Australia is an innovative market and there are many businesses and brands who can take some risks and I think that’s the wonderful opportunity we have – to do things differently and to lead. That is certainly something I will be focusing on in our business.”In the news this episode I check in with UK pracademic Andy Green in Smoke Signal Episode 5. At the time, Andy was spearheading what had been coined the Dublin Definition – a grassroots effort to better define and make sense of the world of PR and how communications need to evolve and change to make a difference.In the 12 months since the Dublin Conversations have continue online and across the world and last week, Andy and his colleagues toured Ireland to share the outcomes. I look at how the c
The gig economy – made up of contractors, consultants, and freelancers - has emerged rapidly over recent years. Driven by the move away from traditional employment models – by both employers and employees – and the rise of digital technologies that create marketplaces for talent to be matched with job opportunities. The side hustle has quickly become the favourite barbeque conversation as people look for opportunities to learn new skills and try new opportunities.In this episode of Smoke Signal, I speak to Luke Achterstraat, CEO of Commtract – Australia and New Zealand’s first marketplace for professional communicators.The Grattan Institute estimates that over 80,000 Australians earn some type of income from a peer to peer platform - be that Uber, AirTasker or Commtract - in any given month. By 2020 almost 40 per cent of the ASX 200 workplace will be non permanent, in some form consultants or freelancers. When founded just over two years ago, Commtract hit on what Luke describes as two mega trends: from an organisational perspective there was an increasing restriction on headcount, movement to an agile workforce and the increased demand for talent immediately. Effectively companies needing to do more with less.The accompanying employee mega trend saw the rise of people seeking autonomy and greater variety in the work they do – especially among experienced professionals who started looking for a “portfolio career”.Luke talks to an on-demand economy that will only get bigger, with more platforms that become hyper specialized (check out snappr for photographers as a case in point) and a greater focus of community around these platforms. His advice – whether starting out as a grad or an experienced professional - don’t fear the way the market is moving as it is by no means a new phenomenon. The key is to embrace the opportunity it presents. In the news this episode I look the 2019 Digital News Report - a global study into the issues facing news media that was just released by the Oxford University-aligned Reuters Institute.The report is based on a survey of over 75,000 people in 38 countries, including 2000 in Australia.
In this episode I speak with industry veteran David Brain post the Accenture acquisition of Droga5 – an acquisition by a management consultancy into a creative agency that is of a size and scale that makes it different to what we have seen before.David Brain uses an apt analogy to describe the competition the PR industry now faces from management consultants who are moving into brand strategy and creative: the PR industry has been training for the past decade to take on the boxing world champion in the weight class above them (creative agencies) but now having stepped into the boxing ring it has found an MMA athlete waiting for us as well. David Brain has worked at some of the largest agencies globally, including 13 years at the world’s largest PR firm, Edelman, where he was a member of its global management Board as well as a number of regional CEO roles across Europe and Asia.He’s recently taken a “step back” and now is on the board of ASX-listed communications network Enero; an advisory Board member of online New Zealand news magazine The Spinoff; an investor and advisory Board member in start-up Parkable; and is currently launching a new research software Stickybeak. In a recent blog he described the acquisition of Droga5 as ‘at scale threat’ to creative agencies that marks the end of PR’s brief chance to become a lead brand discipline’. David believes there was a moment in time, that is now closing due to greater competition from management consultants - the likes of Accenture, KPMG, Deloitte - for PR to get more of the CMO budget (that can be anywhere from ten to twenty times the size of an organisation’s PR budget) by moving into strategy and creative. That is, rather than falling in behind an idea and “making it famous through earned media”, PR could lead the creative idea from the beginning. But to do this PR agencies now must fight not only against creative agencies (the boxer) but with acquisitions like Droga5 by Accenture we now face even greater competition by management consultancies (the MMA athlete).David says: “That is a big fight for our industry to pick and win. There are no doubt individual agencies who can win that battle, but as an industry on mass, I don’t feel we now have the opportunity of being the lead strategy or creative agencies, an area that five or six years ago I thought we could own.”“We have to be smarter and not go head to head with creative agencies who are more creative and management consultancies who arguably are more strategic from a business standpoint.”David sees a better ‘on ramp’ to those larger CMO budgets, now being an area that is often dismissed - marketing automation. The opportunity: marketing automation tools and technology – such as Marketo (purchased by Adobe for $4bn) and HubSpot – that is now more fundamental in how companies are managing their relationships with customers and partners and managing their outreach to prospects and customers. “At their heart is placing different content in front of different people in different channels – that seems a natural area that PR can play.”
Evolving role of influencers, social networks becoming increasingly attentive to their broader role in society, and the continued rise of voice are just a few of the forecast trends discussed in Red Agency’s recently released 2019 Red Sky Predictions Report.In this episode, Global Chairman of Havas PR Collective and CEO of Havas PR for North America, James Wright, takes us through this look at the top 10 trends predicted to hit the Australian communications landscape in 2019.James is a well-recognised face in the Australian PR landscape, having spearheaded the growth and reputation of the Red Agency. I catchup with James on how he’s found the New York market since landing in January. Apart from the obvious – bloody cold; he shares his experience to date – higher budgets, a much deeper media landscape and bigger businesses.We then jump into the Red Sky Predictions report which focuses on Australia, but James hopes to take global in the near future. Some of the trends we discuss include:Social platforms becoming society platforms as they become increasingly mindful of their role in society: There is ever greater pressure on social platforms to take an increased responsibility to monitor and administer public safety: whether in terms of detection of public threats; or health and wellness around screen time; or social bullying and data privacy. And contrary to many media reports, James is already seeing a shift in approach by major social networks, as they move to better ensure they are looking after the huge numbers of people that are on their platforms.Defining the role of influences: We’ve always had influencers in some way – whether celebrity, a blogger, a journalist. But James explains that today, brands are now using influencer marketing more strategically to drive a brand narrative. James describes the emergence three new categories of influencers – co-creators (work together to co-create a piece of content); distributors (those with access to an audience that you want to reach); and narrators (offer a media appeal outside of social networks; and used in owned media as a trusted brand representative).Quality journalism to rise again: There will be a continued migration back to trusted information. Newspapers have become brands in themselves and the report predicts 2019 will see a renaissance in investigative journalism as publishers reinvest in the traditional business model that will increasingly attract increasingly larger audiences. And for James, such journalism is a cornerstone of the democratised world in keeping politicians and organisations accountable.The rise of ‘ears in’ generation: Voice has made a huge impact in the past year. Everyone today has their headphones in – millennials spend 40 hours a week with their headphones on. At the same time, we are also talking more – not just to each other but to devices – think Alexa. And this is only going to grow as it is only at its infancy.Check out the report for all 10 predictions for 2019.In the news this episode I recap on two of the sessions that resonated with me at the recent 2019 Mumbrella CommsCon – the rise of the slow movement and the need for the PR sector to get more serious about mental health and wellness.
Numbers, budgeting and forecasting are not normally the natural domain for PR professionals. However, if you’ve ever worked in an agency there is one thing we certainly know well – timesheets. But is filling out timesheets and billing our services at an hourly rate devaluing the work we do as a profession? In this episode... Continue Reading →
Reports of the death of media relations have been greatly exaggerated.According to practitioner and entrepreneur, Shane Allison, media relations accounted for 51% of agency revenues in 2018. As such it remains a core skill, but in many ways the way we practice media relations has not evolved from when we used fax machines to reach journalists.Shane has launched a new platform, Public Address, bringing much needed innovation and technology to improve the practice of media relations and help remove the friction that can exist between PR practitioners and journalists.In this episode, Shane supports the view of David Skapinker in Smoke Signal episode 8 that there are now more journalists and media outlets than ever before.As a profession we’ve gone from interacting with 2500 media outlets in 2013 to nearly 5000 media outlets today. In the same time we’ve seen nearly 1000 journalists added to the population of journalists.As Shane puts it: “You look at that explosion of media outlets you understand why the PR is struggling to meet the needs of journalists. There are so many different titles and outlets that we need to be communicating with, and pitching to, on a daily basis.“As a result we have never been busier as an industry. The number of people employed in PR has doubled in the last 8 years… We are putting more and more resources to get the same impact as we would have done five years ago with a placement in mainstream media… So the net effect for the PR profession has been a declining productivity."For Shane, the PR profession has often confused innovation with diversification. So we've innovated by diversifying away from media relations - we’ve introduced video, social, content creation, community management among other skills. But, in Shane's view, that is now holding us back, we need to come back to our core and ask how we innovate in this core skill of media relations.Shane is excited about what he sees as the imminent golden age of media relations in a time when media relations has never been more valuable for brands  – the process can be improved and evolve but the discipline will remain at the core of what we do.In the newsEarlier this month I attended the launch of the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer. In the news this episode I discuss three of the key findings:Media is becoming more trusted than everTrust in social media as a source of news and information continues to be persistently low, especially in AustraliaA trust gap has arisen between men and women – women are less trustingTake a listen and you can view the full results here.
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