14 February 17

“It is about understanding your client, providing sound counsel, issues preparedness, account management, business and financial acumen – those things are never going to change.” – Fergus Kibble

 

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a panel of four leaders in the PR industry to hear them outline what the future of Public Relations looks like, and offer advice to the next generation of practitioners.

The panelists were Jason Carnew, National GM at Haystac Francesca Boase, MD at Edelman Australia, Fergus Kibble, founder and MD at FORWARD Agency PR, and Craig Badings, Partner at SenateSHJ. Let’s see what they had to say.

Is traditional PR dying as quickly as forecast?

The proposition that the traditional press office is becoming less important is indisputable, but other traditional elements of PR remain unchanged. Identifying these unchanged elements is important because in doing so we are likely to identify the fundamental aspects of what PR really is.

All four of the panelist centered on the reality that, in essence, the core purpose of PR has remained unchanged. Francesca Boase finds that although the industry looks much different to how it did when she started “narrative, the core of storytelling, will always be critical to what we do. It is more about the story we are telling than the tools that are used.” Jason Carnew cited the example of car manufacturing in the 1950’s and how this process looks different, and indeed archaic, compared to today’s methods – but at its fundamental, the product and experience is the same.

 

How does PR retain its fundamental essence in this ever-changing landscape?

Knowing the essential unchanged elements of public relations allows you to then answer the question of how to apply and adapt those elements in a shifting paradigm.

Fergus Kibble explains that the key to adding value in such a dynamic context is at the outset asking, “What is the client’s commercial or communications need, or the brand issue – and how do we help solve this problem?” Fergus highlights the importance of coming from a problem-solving perspective with a value creation mentality, rather than a media program mindset.

At the end of the day, as public relations professionals we are enlisted to protect, build and enhance the reputation of our client’s brands. To do this effectively, the ability to listen to our clients and interpret what they want and need is the main driver of success. As Francesca Boase observes “to have all the wiz-bang technology in the world, while brilliant, is meaningless if you aren’t solving the problem that the client has.”

 

Tips From The Top: lessons for young professionals from four of the best

Craig Badings – Don’t be a generalist

“My challenge to you is to identify what you are (or could be) a specialist in. What could you become known for in this massive, multidisciplinary industry that will excite your clients and excite you? No one wants a generalist.”

 

Jason Carnew – Work with passion

“I will forgive someone who tries and loves what they are doing but doesn’t make it. That person will always be protected in any business that I am running, versus someone who ‘knows everything’ and doesn’t really care about it.”

 

Francesca Boase – Accept feedback

“The ability to accept feedback is an extremely powerful, and often painful lesson to learn. Often it is the painful feedback that offers you the greatest opportunity to grow. Accept it, process it and implement it.”

 

Fergus Kibble – When opportunity knocks, answer the door

“I couldn’t have planned my career. Doors will open for you, and when they do, step through them, take risks. Whatever you are doing, put your heart, soul and shoulder into it and do the best that you can.”