WEDNESDAY 4 JAN 2017 5:03 PM


Despite the increasing popularity of PR as a job role in recent years, it is an industry with a surprising amount of longevity. It also creates a certain amount of debate among scholars of communications as to who the real ‘father’ of PR is.

In the early 20th century, Ivy Lee, best known for working with John D. Rockefeller and popularising the term ‘public relations’, or Edward Bernays who contributed much to the theory behind PR and use of press releases, shaped what is now known widely as PR.

But, despite these fundamentals still underpinning much of PR’s function, development of the internet, advances in communications and increasing globalisation has inevitably led to wider variation in what the job role entails.

Recent research undertaken by multimedia PR platform, Mynewsdesk, and the Stockholm-based Berghs School of Communication has led to the release of a report in how future PR should be conducted. With over 85% of those surveyed expecting the focus on PR technology to increase in the following five year, findings indicate that PR professionals must diversify their skill set in order to face an increasingly digital future.

Around 63% of PR professionals expect their roles will become more strategic, with 50% predicting analytical changes. Mynewsdesk executive Jonathan Bean, chief marketing officer, says, “Advances in technology will only grow exponentially, and significantly affect the way our audiences receive and respond to our messaging. That’s why now is a critical time for PR professionals to be proactive in responding to and preparing for the emerging changes in the foreseeable future as well as the long term.”

Of those surveyed, 40% also expect to see their roles become more creative. This is a trend in-keeping with the industry’s overall efforts to inject more creativity into PR job roles, such as through corporate storytelling and a bigger focus on visual content.

Tor Löwkrantz, Berghs School of Communication programme director, says, “We are witnessing a deep communication transformation, from interruption to involvement. This development could signify the victory of the ‘PR mindset’ over the ‘ad mindset’ at many organisations.”

And creating a clear distinction between PR and advertising is also key, given the almost universal transfer of PR’s function to online. The global nature of PR means it must keep an open dialogue with its audience, creating a two-way relationship which facilitates openness and co-operation; much like Lee or Bernays would have preached, nearly a century ago.

Over 2,500 PR professionals in nine countries took part in the survey. Respondents work across local, regional and global PR firms across 17 different industries including media and entertainment, business services, software and internet, government, and non-profits.