2016 will be the year that PR truly embraces integration and inclusion

By Andrew Barratt, Ogilvy Public Relations

A prediction for 2016 can be summed up with one word – unification.

The PR industry, the work we do for our clients and the way we use the media landscape to speak to consumers, in order to be most effective in 2016 needs to build on 2015 to be more united. We have seen evidence of stronger unification in 2015 and 2016 will build on this trend.

Explaining what this means requires having two eyes – or ‘I’s’ – on the industry: integration and inclusivity.


  • Viewing the media landscape more holistically

The media landscape over the past 5 years has become fragmented, with a greater number of media outlets in which to communicate a brand message. This has created a huge opportunity for marketers in which to harness different types of channels to speak to consumers at different moments. But this has also created a challenge: how to retain a consistent and clear message across multiple media channels. In 2016, Barratt predicts that marketers will have to work harder to create messages and marketing campaigns that work across the fragmented media landscape in order to communicate a clear brand positioning and message to consumers.

  • A convergence of marketing disciplines

With a need for marketers to have a more integrated approach to handle the complex media landscape dovetails with a convergence of marketing disciplines. Search specialists, public relations practitioners, data analysts and advertising creatives will have to work closer together in 2016 in order to produce effective and competitive marketing that works across the range of media outlets.

  • Holding company integration

And so this will follow with a further integration of the marketing agency business itself at the holding company level. We have already seen Publicis take the bold move at the end of 2015 with a restructure shake up at the holding company level. Creating a clearer strategy of the agency businesses that holding companies acquire, and building and growing on 2015 the benefits of cross-horizontality and bringing together agency teams for clients at a holding company level, will be a necessary trend for 2016.


  • Diversity initiatives within our industry

Inclusion within our industry, and a promotion of diversity has had huge attention this year. There has been some good work in this space, and I believe that 2016 will show a further commitment to greater diversity within our industry. This will be because agency leaders will recognize the benefits of a more diverse workforce, but also because diversity initiatives could become an agency-supplier prerequisite from some clients. If you are committed to building a creative organisation one of the first things you need to do is embrace ideas and ways of thinking that are different to your own. Clients recognize this, as well as it being the right thing to do.

  • Greater inclusion of diverse role models in marketing

And this celebration of diversity will filter into the work that is produced for clients. Today we are embracing difference – seeing the value of not everyone being and doing and looking the same – as never before. For marketing organisations this provides a huge opportunity, but also a challenge: to seek to understand and engage groups of consumers that have previously gone unrecognised. A celebration of different types of people, and portraying the beauty and diversity of the human race as it is, not as it’s been sanitized to be through the lens of traditional marketing, will be a trend for 2016.

  • The power of bringing consumers together

And so all this is about bringing people together – consumers, employees and clients. Bringing consumers together around an inclusive brand message. Celebrating and bringing together a more diverse workforce within our industry. And working with our clients to overcome the challenges of a fragmented media landscape and the need to converge the disciplines in order to create the most effective and engaging content.


Andrew Barratt works at Ogilvy Public Relations. He was awarded Young Communicator of the Year by the PRCA in 2015 and is a member of the CIPR Diversity Working Group. In October 2015 he was recognised by the Financial Times as a future business leader. Previously he has worked for Hill + Knowlton Strategies and PepsiCo.

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