[Originally written for the CIPR Friday Roundup.]
I delivered the inaugural CIPR Strategic Management Series presentation this week on the Influence Scorecard. We explored the future developments of social media, related information technologies and business strategy development and execution, all three of which are massively transformed in the past decade and a half, and continue to change rapidly.
And we discussed what's encompassed exactly by the increasingly heard phrase, "socializing the enterprise".
The following question, asked during the Q&A part of the evening, is perfectly formed to offer up a slice through the future as I see it: "What does all this mean for PR agencies?". Let's set the scene...
No organization is an island. Everything an organization does occurs in the context of a changing world, in a dynamic interplay with every entity around it. This has always been the case, but social media is taking the friction out of the system and related technologies contribute further to the data / information flood. This rapidly changing landscape demands a Darwinian type response; only the fittest will survive let alone thrive.
Organizations must cultivate a sensitivity to the new dynamic and sharpen their ability to interpret and respond to the myriad communication flows issuing from all sides. In biomimetic terms, we're talking about the fitness for purpose of the organization's ears, eyes and mouth.
Given the growing criticality of such senses then, perhaps you'll agree that I'm not taking too big a step in forecasting that organizations will increasingly find it unviable to outsource them.
An agency account executive is somewhat isolated from the client's culture, buzz, tone, knowledge, etc. They're not at the water cooler. They're not tapped in to the client's intranet. Hell, they're often not even full time, spread as they often are across three, four, five clients. Such agency becomes simply unworkable. Come the end of this decade, PR agency is dead.
But organizations need help in making this transition, in growing these heightened capabilities. Step up the PR consultancy, adept at designing and embedding the processes required. It oversees the client's in-house team, or its own embedded team, developing skills, systems and capabilities, and enhancing the understanding of public relations, what it can achieve and its role in business strategy.
The PR agency is dead. Long live the PR consultancy.