Maja Pawinska Sims 08 Oct 2018 // 6:00AM GMT
DUBLIN — Public relations will “get its swagger back” in 2019, according to WE Communications president, international Alan VanderMolen.
Outlining his predictions for the industry in the year ahead at the International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) Global Summit in Dublin, VanderMolen said: ““PR will get its swagger back as demand for engagement, and credible, verifiable branded content sky rockets. It’s been a tough few years but if we focus on demand for engagement over earned media, we have an issues-rich and opportunity-rich environment.”
VanderMolen quoted some of the findings from WE’s recent Brands In Motion research, showing that while consumers expect and demand technological innovation, they are also increasingly fearful of the potential for technology to have a negative impact, from data security to driverless cars.
He said: “Consumers are now holding brands responsible for ethical use of technology, and it’s a brilliant opportunity for PR to get back in the boardroom.”
Outlining the challenge for PR professionals, VanderMolen said: “We must understand the technologies and platforms that are shaping our business environment. We must re-emerge as the moral and ethical voice guiding brands on what they should do rather than what they can do. We must regain the ground in the c-suite that has been ceded to CMOs, CTOs and legal counsel. And we must master insights and analytics to maintain credibility.”
Another prediction for 2019 was more consolidation within the marketing holding groups: “With the exception of Publicis, which has Sapient, holding companies aren’t equipped to have management and performance consultancy conversations.
“Budgets are being slashed, outpacing holding companies’ ability to invest in technology like the management consultancies have, and the management consultancies are back-integrating by buying creative shops. Consolidation is real and it’s creating real pressure for the holding companies, but it will also create an opportunity for mid-size agencies to get hold of talent.”