What the Future May Hold for Agencies


Inspiration is always a great thing. But so is comfort. Comfort knowing that other people or organizations are asking the same questions, and facing the same challenges that, we as agencies are.

 

I had the pleasure of attending The Holmes Report’s Global PR Summit, Provoke, on October 25 and 26 and it was nothing short of valuable. The conversations were engaging and intense, opinions were strong and a lot of great intel was shared. And in the end, I can’t help but be excited for the future of marketing and PR. It’s a bright one, but it certainly will be what agencies make of it.

 

It’s a time to look forward and to think of all the ways we can evolve as agencies. The speakers who were in so many words – off the beaten path – including Casey Gerald, a Harvard MBA who runs MBAs Across America. He delivered a fascinating speech and opened up our eyes to a different way of thinking. He talked about how it’s not the how or what, rather the WHY that leads to the transformation of change. He reminded us to spend time with entrepreneurs and small business owners because they can teach us a thing or two around doing good in the world and what it means to stand for innovation and transformation. A quote that Casey shared from Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard really made me stop and think:

 

global PR, public relations, entrepreneur, innovation

 

Further inspiration came from Raney Aronson-Rath, Executive Director of FRONTLINE, who assured us that long-form stories are alive and well. The work that FRONTLINE is doing is beyond impressive. They are using VR effectively and are doing phenomenal marketing and have gone on to triple their audience – who is younger than ever, more engaged than ever and awareness around issues/news has increased. I had the pleasure of meeting their VR specialist and got to put a head and ear set on to experience VR through their lens and it was beyond captivating. I’m now a fan and have been scouring their site, thirsty for information. The topics are deep and the content leaves you impacted and thirsting for more, and as Raney put it, she wishes there was more “serious journalism” out there.

 

Millennials came up frequently. People seemed to tire of millennial talk towards the end, but the fact of the matter is that millennials will make up more than 75% of the workforce by 2025. So they’re extremely relevant and we need to pay a lot of attention to their behavior and needs. One recurring theme was the values, CSR, and ethics embedded in brands are extremely important when it comes to millennials looking to select an employer.

 

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Influencers were talked about constantly, but my favorite panel was one titled “Are We Heading to the Era of ‘Block this Influencer’” with Audrey McClelland and Mikey Murphy. Audrey, a mommy of 5 and Mikey, an 18 year old are both strong influencers within their ecosystems. Both of them were so authentic and honest. Audrey loves brands that organically and authentically fit into her and her family’s lives and Mikey needs to be a believer of brands, and mentioned that brands who tell influencers what to do takes away the authenticity of it all. They both agreed that influencers who are looking to make fast cash will quickly lose the trust of their audiences.

 

As you can see, it was a busy two days and there are so many sessions I didn’t highlight in this post, including more around influencers, data & analytics, and the future of AI (beyond fascinating).

 

PR and marketing agencies have a lot of work to do and have no choice but to continue to evolve with the consumer and the rest of the world. At the same time, it’s important for agencies to pay close attention to employees, as they are a brand’s most valuable asset and possess the potential to be a company’s biggest and influential brand advocate.

 

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