PR Leaders’ Visions for the Industry


By Maureen Ray

It goes without saying that the PR industry has changed a lot over the course of the past several decades as technology has improved, leading to more access and insight into corporate America and a greater call for transparency among its leaders. What does that mean for the future of PR? I was lucky to attend the Fifth Annual Agency Leaders Roundtable hosted by PRSA Chicago, and find out.

Here’s the summary of what I heard:

  • Take stakeholder’s POVs into account: Thanks to social media and a constant news cycle, consumers will call out companies for acting in ways that seem inauthentic or insincere (ahem, Wells Fargo). It’s time for brands to view their actions from the audience’s vantage point without bias and understand the real expectations.
    • What does this mean for PR? PR pros are already shaping messaging and anticipating tough questions for clients – in the future, PR pros should work to counsel clients on how actions may be perceived by the audience to help develop the most successful course of action. After all, it’s perception that makes or breaks brands and companies, despite best intentions.
  • Diverse agencies teams: Clients are tasking agencies with developing more creative and diverse ideas that reach diverse audiences. Agencies need to recruit more diverse talent to develop robust POVs on different client and audience challenges. Additionally, this talent needs to be pipelined to ensure diverse leadership as well.
    • What does this mean for PR? We all want to recruit good people, but need to look to new recruiting methods to attract more diverse talent while in school and develop that talent through mentorship.
  • Bridging online and real-life: Digital media has been around for at least a decade now, but PR pros still need to bridge the gap between online and real life by creating experiences that are easily shareable online for a seamless user experience with a brand, client, or product.
    • What does this mean for PR? Marketing programs no longer live in silos – experiential, social and media relations need to offer a consistent brand experience. PR is in a key position to lead more integrating programming, creating a brand story from which integrated tactics can stem.

maureen-ray A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Maureen Ray is a graduate of the PR/AD program at DePaul University. She now is Assistant Account Executive at Ketchum Chicago.


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