Trends For And From Results15 years, 10 months ago
Keith Hunt identifies some key trends that will impact on the PR sector in coming months.
The only thing that is certain about the future is that it is uncertain, probably nowhere more so than in the volatile creative services area. But here goes anyway. There are noticeable trends now that will hit more strongly through 2007 and it is these upon which I concentrate. As for things which we know we don’t know, I’ll pass on them. First up is CSR and all things which are green, sustainable, ethical.
There is absolutely no question that values are becoming as important as value. Everywhere you look, whether at the retail level, at the brand level with "fairtrade" brands, or in supply chain management, CSR is where it’s at. It will increasingly affect everything from annual reports to packaging design. Be with it or beware.
All companies and brands must now have a clear point of view and an associated action plan to address social and environmental issues. However, being socially responsible will not be enough – it has to be communicated if there is to be a benefit to a company’s or brand’s reputation. All forms of creative marketing communications come into play, not just PR.
Second up is digital. No surprise there then. It increasingly permeates every aspect of our business and the stampede to digital will continue. Whether you are client or agency there is no hiding place. The opportunity it offers across the marketing communications spectrum is phenomenal and for clients, whether exploiting transactional websites, harnessing the power of blogs to engage consumers or using mobile for producing instant sales promotion "coupons", the opportunities appear almost limitless.
The difficulty for clients and creative people alike is holding on to the tails of the express train. The agency challenge will be to participate in the space both as brand architects and as initiators of new forms of content and interconnectedness.
It will be critical therefore for all involved in the creative area to keep up-to-date. The important thing to remember is that the internet isn’t the next new thing like satellite TV. It is not technology driving change to the supply of media. It is consumer driven change in behaviour that will in time completely alter the way radio, TV, press, film, music, telephony is done.
Then we come to the difficult issue of how output from the creative industries will be valued in 2007. In the UK, the government sponsored Cox Report of 2006, which will be followed through this year, raises the profile, visibility and, hopefully, the value of the creative industries. On the other hand there are questions such as: will creative work continue, all too frequently, to be bought by those too low down the client structure; will clients improve their understanding of the value of creativity; will procurement departments continue to try and buy it in an inappropriate fashion?
The jury’s out but the historical trend is not encouraging. Against this, creative agencies in 2007 will ever increasingly have to realise that they are not dealing in art but in something which has to create a commercial return. The imperative for agencies in 2007 is to prove their value.
There is no reason for the creative industry to think it should escape evaluation and accountability. Clients will continue to demand better value for money and accountability for their budgets, which may cause the industry to start to polarise between low cost "suppliers" and higher value, high advice/strategy partners.
Finally, the economic outlook for both Europe and the UK looks good and despite its problems the US economy continues to exhibit strength. Against this background the marcoms industry will continue to grow in 2007.
Keith Hunt is managing partner at Results International. Results advises the marketing communications industry, working with advertising, PR sales promotion, direct marketing, design, interactive, media buying, market research, telemarketing and others marketing services organisations. It provides a full range of business strategy, client and staff satisfaction, change management and corporate finance advice.mail the author
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