Expect Big Changes in PR: 2015 and Beyond

February 24, 2015

As Seen in… The Access Point

Content remains king! That’s just one of the key takeaways Access learned from a recent 1:1 with Ketchum CEO Barri Rafferty. Barri visited both the Access SF and NY offices in January to share what’s next for Ketchum North America, and the PR industry as a whole. In addition to content, Barri was candid about our field, and where and how our services will evolve in the months and years ahead.

What will be the biggest change to the PR industry in 2015, and beyond?
If they haven’t yet, PR industry pros need to embrace all forms of content. Most of our teams dabble now, but moving forward everyone will be involved and incorporating content across all forms – from digital, designers to animators and other specialists. We’ll also need to focus on content amplification –not just getting content out there, but also making the most of it with paid support and promotion.

In your opinion, how should PR agencies respond to the growing trend of more business keeping their PR in house? How can agencies continue to showcase the value of having an agency partner?
We work side-by-side with in-house teams, who serve as valuable partners and champions for PR. Agencies can continue to prove their own value by using their trend-spotting skills to offer a more holistic perspective on the issue at hand. They also have diversified experience to help brands think creatively beyond their immediate circle and stand out in a crowded market.

Are there any specific sectors that you expect will generate more agency business in the coming year?
As tech continues to grow, they’ll need more branding – maturing companies in the Valley, Alley and all the other tech pockets popping up will need more expertise on how to tell their story and how to have a longer tail. There will also be more proactive corporation reputation, with companies participating in crisis simulation exercises versus waiting until the crisis is upon them to do crisis management training. As technology grows, the turnaround time gets much shorter – if a company has a crisis in Barcelona, we’ll hear about it immediately here in the U.S. News spreads fast, and we need to do more to get ahead of it.

What is the biggest challenge PR agencies face in today’s business landscape?
Different spaces will be vying for the same talent in digital, creative, content, and other disciplines. While we are just beginning to touch on paid media, we need to get even better, faster, before others beat us to the punch.

If you could change one thing about how the PR industry operates, what would it be?
That PR would be more confident in measurement and ROI. The industry should come together as a whole to determine how to measure and present data on what we do, with the confidence to stand behind it (click to tweet). We need to be curious and avid learners who are open to changing the way we do things.

As President and CEO of Ketchum, a top-five, global communications consultancy, Barri Rafferty oversees Ketchum’s offices and affiliates in more than 70 countries.

Outside of Ketchum, she participates in a number of groups including the sustainability task-force for the World Economic Forum and is a member of Arthur W. Page Society Page Up program. Rafferty sits on the board of StepUp, an organization with the mission of empowering girls from under-resourced communities to become confident, college-bound, and career focused and she is also a member of the governing body of OmniWomen, Omnicom’s Leading Women’s Network, for which she holds quarterly panel discussions featuring prominent women. She is the recipient of the Plank Center Milestones in Mentoring Award.

Barri is a graduate of Boston University (M.A) and Tulane University and enjoys watching soccer, volleyball, and dance – especially when her son and daughter are involved! Connect with her on Twitter: @barrirafferty