Tim Hughes writes…
I’ve been doing this for 30 years – 25 years as the head of Hughes, which I established in the store cupboard of a friend’s business in 1992.
In the past five years I’ve seen more change than in the prior 25.
When I started in print journalism, typewriters were common – although they were fast giving way to clunky computers.
When I worked in television, there was always a rush to get things shot as early as possible in the day so that the film could be sent to the processors, then cut, then printed and then aired – a far cry from Snapchat or Instagram.
I saw teletext machines give way to fax machines; fax machines do away with couriers; and the internet and email replace fax machines. But these were just tools for doing business with our clients more efficiently – not necessarily impacting on our work for clients up until the past decade.
In Australia – and particularly South Australia – we were probably sheltered from change for some time.
Trends have been changing at a much faster rate beyond our borders and shores. I don’t believe we’ll be as sheltered from change in the five years to 2021. The rise and rise of digital and social media has seen to that.
And the pace of change will be even greater in the next five years than it has been in the past five years. For example, the amount of information on the web is expected to increase by 400 per cent in the next four years (Michael Schaeffer, The Content Code).
From my perspective, the past five years have seen the greatest changes to the so-called PR business – and the greatest challenges and opportunities.
Just to give you a bit of background on our consultancy:
We are one of the largest consultancies in SA.
We work for a broad range of clients – largely in the corporate space – and in almost every case, we work at the highest level of that organisation and then deliver down.
If we have a point of difference in the marketplace it is our commitment to being strategic and aligning our work in a measurable way to the business goals of all our clients.
Our clients include Adelaide Airport, Adelaide Convention Centre, BankSA, Calvary Health Care, Flinders Fertility, ENGIE, major property developers and a number of organisations in the defence sector.
Our experience mirrors the experience of the wider PR profession – at least in Australia.
Over time, our consultancy has changed and in recent times, it’s changed even more quickly.
We started as opportunistic publicists, we developed a reputation for managing reputation through our work on issues and crises communication, we became more conscious of the importance of being strategic in delivering outcomes aligned to our clients’ business goals.
Our expertise was harnessed to assist internal communications.
Our interest in “brands” in the broader sense, helped us bring internal and external behaviours and communications together. Because of our experience and network, we became “influencers” and “advocates”.
We responded to changes in the communication environment by embracing social and digital media – and including it in our programs in a strategic manner. We were one of the first in Adelaide to appoint a consultant dedicated to social media work.
Recognising the influence of video, we established a Digital Video Production capability to deliver web and blog content and electronic news releases to both new and traditional media under-resourced to meet the demands of their audience.
We then expanded our skill set with a graphic design team to support our work in social, digital and video media. These services now account for 25% of turnover – and they’re growing.
So, you can see how our industry is changing – and the pace is only going to pick up. It’s going to impact on the whole of the marketing communication sector. But we believe PR has the most to gain.