On The Verge of Calamity? Why Agencies Need To Adapt Or Perish

ExtinctionSometimes when thinking about the future it’s good to look at the past.

And in some cases, it’s helpful to look at the long past like, say, the past 540 million years. That’s how far back the reliable, observable fossil record goes, and judging from the data experts believe there have been at least five major mass extinction events since then. The technical definition of these events is not important; suffice it to say, this is when s— gets real for most of the critters around at the time.

And without stretching the metaphor too thinly, I believe the PR industry is on the edge of a mass extinction event – a moment at which the environment under long-term stress undergoes a short-term shock. Or, in our case, it’s not one shock a series of short-term blasts including major shifts in technology, globalization, and economics that are in the process of disrupting, distorting or eliminating virtually every service industry.

Now, I’m no pessimist.  I’ve spoken frequently around the world on reasons to be optimistic about the agency business and I still believe that even the face of massive change – even potentially catastrophic change for many – there is enormous opportunity for those willing to adapt. Because, unlike the 96% of all species that perished in the Permian-Triassic event of 66 million years ago, we have a choice.  We can roll with the punches, adjust to the environment, adapt to new realities.

Change or Perish: The Future of PR is the thrust of the 2013 ICCO PR Summit this October in Paris. Here some of the world’s leading thinkers on the PR business will share their candid views on the trends, innovations and ideas that are challenging – and possibly saving – the communications consulting business.

Agency bosses and gurus we’ve all long admired, emulated and respected (feared?) as competitors and colleagues will offer insights to the strategies and approaches in a wide range of areas most likely to affect our future: leadership and talent diversity, creativity and innovation, linguistics and social science, measurement and evaluation, development markets, new media models and agency structures, and integration with other communications disciplines.

In times of epic change like these, survival is never guaranteed.  But the odds of hanging on just a bit longer are greatly enhanced when we’re willing to step beyond our own day to day tasks and to listen, learn and contribute to a wider conversation about the wider world around us.

Hope to see you in Paris.

This blog first appeared on ICCO.

Image credit: www.greenretreat.org