For their special PR report, Irish Marketing Journal asked me, along with other industry leaders, for my thoughts on some of the key issues facing the PR business in Ireland. The Q&A format is ideal for summarising thoughts on sometimes complex issues. Take a look to see if you agree with me (and let me know if you don’t)
The clients’ view of how PR fits into their communications/marketing strategy in 2017 – does the focus on digital advertising detract from the resources available for public relations activity?
The difference between commercial Success and Failure can boil down to Good and Bad communications. Clients understand this implicitly. It makes no sense to invest thousands or millions in developing a new initiative, brand or service and then letting it down by paying scant attention to the communications needed to promote it. Owned, Earned and Paid social media are now an integral part of the PR mix. In my experience, digital advertising is funded separately and is not a drain on the financial commitment given to PR.
The extent to which companies see PR as a commodity, using firms as an
outsourced partner to handle specific elements of their marketing while
executing other tasks in-house.
In the Corporate and B2B space in which I operate PR is not seen as a commodity discipline. There’s a definite view that PR and reputation management is a very particular skill that’s best handled in an expert outside resource. I was once nick-named Commssolver by a client because I was constantly being brought into firms to solve communications issues that hadn’t been handled well internally. That happens much less now as I’m involved at the start of the NPD / launch process so I can help to shape the narrative, develop the necessary plans and avoid any potential mishaps.
What PR firms have done to ensure their employees reflect the diversity of their clients – are ethnic minorities and older people sufficiently represented in the industry?
I’d like to think that the industry is working on the basis that it’s only Talent that matters and that ethnicity or age is irrelevant in that case.
Many professional services firms have recognised that billing by the hour is
no longer sustainable – have PR charging structures become more flexible?
Time is the most valuable commodity I offer as a professional communications expert and I charge appropriately. If I don’t respect the value of my time, why should I expect anyone else to? While hourly rates may be a more common aspect to crisis communications nevertheless having a view of how much time a project or campaign will take to deliver has to be calculated carefully, billed accordingly and reflected in a retainer or daily rate.
The economy is growing but Brexit looms large – how has the upturn impacted
you and/or your clients and has the uncertainty surrounding the UK affected
the PR industry in Ireland?
Certainly the PR market is buoyant currently and Ireland Inc is getting on with business as usual – I think that it’s too early to assess the potential impact of Brexit as we still don’t know its shape
Has any individual PR campaign stood out for you in 2017?
There was lots of really great work in Ireland worthy of mention. There’s too much to choose from so I’ll kop out my mentioning a notable and clever Healthcare / OTC campaign from the UK. It caught my attention in terms of its creativity, insight and appeal to a 16 -25 market and that’s the #CondomEmoji campaign created by Premier for the Durex brand. It tapped into the popularity and engagement that Emoji’s generate and helped position Durex as a key player in the worldwide fight against HIV and AIDS.