21st century Public Relations: a Blockbuster story

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Any PR person worth their salt knows that statistics can make the basis for a good story.  In the age of the corporate storyteller, we’re forever hearing how narrative skills are essential for PR practitioners.  But sometimes we can forget that the narrative often needs numbers to support it.

So what’s the story from the stats revealed by CIPR’s State of the Profession survey?  Well, fans of one-paced plots need not apply.  And the am dram among us might as well get a new income stream.

‘Diversification’- that’s the key word for the 21st century.  (I stole this from a late 90s Hollywood blockbuster, the name of which escapes me now.)  But the silver screen character that time has blurred from my memory could just as well have been talking about the state of the PR profession in 2014.

For many, there’s a slightly uncomfortable juxtaposition at the heart of our current situation (a Catch-22 if we’re sticking with the story theme). On the one hand, the skills required of the PR person keen to remain relevant and required in 2014 are evolving at pace. Clients and the C-Suite are asleep no more to the reality that audiences get their information multi-platform and 24/7.  This has had a transformational affect on our roles.

Convergence of the old communication silos is seeing us work closely with different departments and need skills such as copywriting (56%); print and design (42%); website design and coding (35%); strategic partnerships (34%); and content marketing (32%).  It’s no surprise that this departure from the old day-to-day has given us a bit of a crisis of confidence.  In fact, just one in six of us are very satisfied we have the skills to succeed in the future, while one in three public relations practitioners (35%) say that the biggest challenge to the industry in the next five years will be an expanding skill set required of professionals.

And while all of this is going on, nine out of ten of respondents say that being considered a professional is important to them.

So it should be.

We’ve all been peeved in the past at people in the pub, who’ve looked blankly, or worse, angrily, when we tell them we ‘do PR’.

We do much more than that.  At our best, we work strategically and smartly to affect an organisation’s very being, advising on its objectives, how it creatively communicates with its audiences, and how it knows whether it’s done a good job when it turns the lights off at night.   The impact of social media on all aspects of organisations hands us a golden opportunity not just to be heard at the top table, but to be rewarded in cash and in kind for sitting at it.

If we’re not prepared to take this seriously, why should anyone else?  In any other profession, the accepted way to professionally develop is through continuous learning. In a world of diversification and flux like ours, where the skills we need are increasingly out of our comfort zone, it’s even more important.

Hold your head high. Be professional with a capital PR.  If you’ve read this far, you’ll know every good piece of content should have a call to action.  Well here’s mine?

Being out of your comfort zone can be exhilarating. Revelations about yourself and the world around you rarely come from the same old.  It’s why I and, I’d like to think, every other member of the Social Media Panel loves what we do.

But support is available to give you the skills to succeed in this uncertain future.

Sign up for CIPR’s CPD scheme now. You won’t regret it.


  • Dan Tyte MCIPR, Co-Chair of CIPR Social Media Panel and Executive Director, Working Word PR

Founded in April 2010, the CIPR Social Media Panel (#CIPRSM) has played a significant role in the development of CIPR policy guidance, education, and training on the topic of digital and social media in public relations. #CIPRSM is made up of some of the foremost social media thought-leaders and contributors.

  1. Great piece that highlights how there is definitely the need for a new narrative both for the profession and for ourselves -to guide our futures.
    Yet, at the moment I fear we are an industry complacent and failing to take advantage of and fully exploit opportunities in Brand Story-telling and Content Marketing.
    Hope this article inspires other practiitoners to do something about their own future and jointly help create a better story for PR

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