Charting the future of public relations

The CEO View 

Dave Senay
CEO, FleishmanHillard
(Global)
2014: +4.7% 

"FleishmanHillard’s growth has been fueled by big bets we’ve made in reputation management, the social enterprise, analytics, strategic integration and investment in deep expertise by industry sectors and practices. It’s what our clients need and it’s how we are becoming the most complete communications firm in the world. That’s a vision realized first and foremost by an amazing array of talent working together across a truly collaborative global network. Multi-regional clients are now the rule, not the exception. 
 
Clients are responding, as well, to our role as trusted advisor in a world of bewildering choices and hyperventilated claims. They appreciate our relentless commitment to excellence as we deliver the right message, to the right people, at the right time and place, in an always-on paid, earned, shared and owned media environment. Our global platform, FH ContentWorks, the industry’s largest network of content studios, delivers a client engagement model suited to their specific needs. 
 
Our big bets are taking the firm beyond the status quo. And our clients are reaping the rewards of an unprecedented era of innovation at FH. Products like TrueIQ (a social, analytics and content command center), The Authenticity Gap (true insights as brand and reputation merge), our proprietary A.R.C. crisis methodology and certification, all respond to burgeoning client needs. In this way, we have become uniquely positioned to deliver the best counsel, the best content and ultimately more value to all of our clients. We talk about The Power of True, and this is what we mean by it."   

Donna Imperato
CEO, Cohn & Wolfe
(Global)
2014: +11.6%


"Driven by the unprecedented and remarkable speed of technological advances, we are witnessing a communications revolution. With consumers now deeply involved in, and often driving, the marketing equation, clients are increasingly looking for the best solutions for their brands across paid, owned, earned and shared media.  

Cohn & Wolfe’s sweet spot is the intersection of marketing and brand communications, so we were well positioned to capitalize on this revolution. Five years ago we set out to evolve and expand our offering to bring clients more integrated solutions. With double-digit global growth over the past 18 months, our financial results are proof positive of the success we’ve had delivering what consumers want and what clients need. 

This past year, we made significant moves to further our integrated communications capabilities, including hiring senior talent with diverse backgrounds, formalizing our Paid Media offer, advancing our Digital Healthcare expertise and launching our ME-24 Mobile Engagement Unit, a joint venture with global multiscreen marketing giant Joule.

Despite seismic changes in technology and media, many of the drivers of today’s communications marketplace have always been PR industry strengths:  storytelling, strategic communications, earned media and even content creation. Our industry’s future success will be defined by staying ahead of the technology curve, hiring and training the right talent to meet new demands and delivering compelling, integrated programming that makes an impact. All without losing sight of our roots of inspiring and earning the trust of influencers and stakeholders."


Madan Bahal
CEO, Adfactors
(India)
2014: +16.3%


"All growth is a leap of faith, without the benefit of experience. Five years ago, given the global economic conditions that prevailed then, no one would have said that we would have grown the way we have. And yet, here we are, at a crucial inflection point: the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund say India will be the fastest growing economy in 2016. 

Several factors will combine to drive the next phase of growth of our industry. For the first time in two decades, we have a government that has a substantial majority in Parliament; that means that progressive policymaking that will drive growth will not be hampered by the ‘policy paralysis’ of coalition politics. What’s more, growth will be sustainable, and over several years. 

Second, the faith in our ability to realise our potential is present among both foreign and domestic investors; we are attracting billions of dollars in investment into healthcare, infrastructure, education and manufacturing – all drivers of sustained growth. Coupled with that is the tsunami of Indian entrepreneurship that has been unleashed in recent years. Together, the promise for the communications industry is enormous.

Third, digital and social media in India may lag behind the developed countries by years, but there is no doubt that digital media is becoming a critical source of influence. The numbers may be small, but what you cannot ignore is the speed of acceleration. The explosion of digital and social media communications will be nothing short of exponential.

Fourth, there is a vast untapped market in India’s smaller cities; they are fast becoming the critical driver of economic and corporate revenue growth, be it in consumer markets or financial purchasing power. The government’s ‘smart cities’ initiative will further enhance that potential.

Fifth, India’s media is wonderfully complex: there are several thousand newspapers, more than 500 TV channels; ‘Digital India’ will be here much faster as broadband connectivity reaches further into the so-called hinterland. The media is free, independent and vibrant. 

For those who leverage the combination of these factors, growth will be the great separator of those succeed and those who will not."

Beth Garcia 
CEO, Approach
(Brazil)
2014: +15.9% 


"Communications’ agencies in Brazil have doubled their market income over the last 5 years, achieving almost a total of $1b (US) in 2014.  This is a trend that tends to sustain especially among the medium to big agencies, which are now taking advantage of the crises scenario and the new demand of a handful of services. This growth is not only the result, but also the cause of an increase in markets’ and agencies’ maturity. This is an especially amazing achievement, mostly given that Brazil, as a whole, had only 0.1% of growth.

Over the last years, content has increased its importance, value, and role in corporate communications’ strategy. This was advantageous to Brazilians PR agencies, which are mostly consisted by former journalists. What we now call “storytelling” refers to the good ‘old stories well told by journalists everywhere. The journalistic scrutiny in finding trustworthy sources, intriguing stories, interesting features, and captivating characters has proven to be an advantage in creating quality content.

In this ever so maturing market, Approach’s entrepreneurs, with a creative mindset and the capability to adapt to a situation of years of economic crisis and instability, led the company to stand out and grow in the market. Approach’s culture has enabled the company to go further than simply responding to clients’ demands. There has been a significant increase among digital and internal communications, different stakeholders’ platforms, and even advertising in the company. Widening the spectrum of PR has been of outstanding importance for the biggest communications’ firms in Brazil, and this will become increasingly necessary in the future."

Jo Carr 
Managing Partner, Hope & Glory
(UK)
2014: +75.3%

"Our growth over the past 12 months has been thanks to the team focussing more rigorously than ever on the craft of PR. Great ideas, brilliant execution, old fashioned media contacts and skills. Doing that work means we attract and keep the best talent; we have happy clients who stay and want to do more and a healthy stream of prospective clients that come knocking.  When you find yourselves in that situation, the money tends to take care of itself.

Great work doesn’t happen by accident, however. Too many agencies take a "monkeys with typewriters" approach to ideas - have infinite numbers of them in a room and they'll come up with something eventually. 

We’ve tried to foster a sense of bravery within the agency and a willingness to experiment and try new things. That active search for better ideas than ever - and a brilliant team of publicists to make sure they get more than their share of space - is what will continue to drive our development. 

At the same time, we’ve deliberately shied away from creating divisions or fixed account groups so we can continue to cast the right teams for our clients - giving them access to people who either have the relevant experience, the requisite skills or simply a passion for a subject. 

So our growth has come from being able to offer clients the best of both worlds:  big, integrated brand campaigns and activations, alongside an agile and nimble press office.  In the past year clients such as Sony and IKEA have expanded their remits with us to encompass both aspects.

Finally, I think we’ve also been lucky in that we launched at a time and in a market where big brands are moving away from some of the traditional agency networks and wanting a more bespoke, more personal relationship with their agency team.  It’s not by accident that the UK has seen a sharp rise in the number of small, independent, creative agencies being launched.  There’s certainly demand for braver and more interesting work which we feel we are well-placed to deliver."

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