Our Creative Director, Chris Grabowski, muses about the #10yearchallenge by honing in on our industry.
Having worked in PR for ten years, and a bit (quite a bit) and with everyone, even my friends’ mums doing the #10yearchallenge, it felt like a suitably large trend to be bastardised into a post. A chance to look back at what has changed and how the PR/comms industry has aged in the last decade.
So here are ten things that have impacted the current look of PR:
1.We think differently – and the work is better. In MHO agencies are putting out far more creative work than 10 years ago, the changes in media and impact of social and digital has been to the benefit of PR. It has given agencies to truly activate any idea, nothing is off the table or out of an agency’s remit.
2.Reading less, watching more – 10 years ago the national newspapers were still it. If you got coverage in a national you were golden, a clean-sweep of the nationals and you went to the pub. With the circulations down and the pages blocked out with Brexit or Trump it’s the likes of Piers and Susanna, or Holy and Phil that set the tone for the media not the front page of The Times.
3.Don’t write as much as we used to – an enormous amount of craft still goes into the copy for media, but the press release being the vessel has gone. Targeting onlines, broadcast and influencers – campaigns go out in packages as bundles of imagery, footage and short-form headline copy, not long-winded release with endless Notes to Editors.
4.We are healthier – for the better (begrudgingly) drinking culture has changed, agencies don’t tend to hit the pub in the same way or with the same frequency as before. The focus in now on physical and mental wellbeing, with the odd blow-out. Over at Cirkle, we are currently in the midst of an agency Ironman Challenge seeing our 40+ employees each complete an Ironman over the next few weeks, but I’m sure we will sink a few to celebrate at the end.
5.Dress different – I wore a suit on my first ever day in PR, to be fair they told me not to wear it the next day, but the industry has a more relaxed style to it now. No matter what sector you work dress-codes are more paired down and the ‘emergency’ blazer has gone.
6.More flexible – smart phones mean the office is always with you, but it has also given more progressive agencies the opportunity to be more flexible with how teams work.
7.In-touch with our emotions – you increasingly see people being quite refreshingly, publicly honest about their own mental health and how they are coping. We don’t bottle it up any more and the industry is better at identifying and helping those who raise their hand.
8.We are valued – once an industry obsession to be at the top table, to be on par with the media, ad and digital agencies. Ten years later the table doesn’t exist in the same way. Most clients have become better at working closer with agencies and knowing what they do best. With agencies knowing what they are good at, what their role is in the mix, and not trying to be ad agencies with a tenth of the numbers.
9.Still humble – and not in a good way. PR agencies are still bizarrely bad at PR-ing themselves. I don’t remember the last time I read something outside of an industry title that referenced an agency, quoted an employee or was simply a piece of work the agency did for its own agenda.
10.Not cheapening ourselves – activations tend to be less disposable, we aren’t selling into papers anymore so stories don’t get thrown away the next day. In part this has meant agency work is created with greater longevity, less stunts, less moment-in-time activations. In-line with this, agencies are also better at putting a value on their work and their ideas and having the kahunas to stick to them.
So overall time has been kind, we can do more now than we could ten years ago. We are healthier, more flexible and more ambitious than we were before and the output is better than ever. It will be interesting to see how we are faring in another ten but one thing is for sure, I will still be using the same profile picture.