LONDON--PR thinking is set to dominate the marketing landscape, according to a major new survey of marcomms students in four European countries.

The study, conducted by the MediaSchool Group, polled more than 2,000 students in the UK, France, Spain and Belgium. Aged between 20 and 25, and studying either advertising, marketing communications, design, PR or events, the students were polled on specific areas: digital, the future of marcomms, career, ethics and inspiration.

The findings are likely to prove eye-catching. 70 percent, for example, believe that 'PR thinking', where the creation of word-of-mouth and trust for brands is most important, would dominate the way all agencies respond to briefs within a decade.

"As an industry, we should embrace the fact that PR thinking looks set to be so dominant in the years ahead," said PRCA director-general Francis Ingham. "The time when digital stood alone is, indeed, drawing to a close –something we should very much welcome." 

81 percent saw content marketing becoming an essential part of their jobs, with 90 percent saying that  that in 10 years, full-service agencies would feature practitioners that are comfortable creating strategies in advertising, direct, social, digital and PR.

"These predictions are not surprising," said GolinHarris international MD Matt Neale. "In fact 10 years may be too generous. Today we're seeing digital specialists folded into PR and advertising agencies at a rapid pace. The agency of the future will operate across all media channels, in real time." 

More than 80 percent, meanwhile, believe that specialist social media and digital shops will die out within the decade. And 70 percent said of this generation of students do not believe they are digital natives, preferring to hand that designation to the generation that follows them.

Students were also polled about which agencies and brands they admired. Publicis came out on top of all marcomms groups, well ahead of Omnicom, WPP and IPG.

31 percent named Ogilvy PR the most admired PR firm, ahead of Edelman (15 percent) and Hill + Knowlton Strategies (13 percent).

Apple was the clear favourite as the in-house team this generation would most like to work for, receiving 44 percent of votes. The same proportion called Red Bull Stratos the most admired creative or branding campaign of 2012.