I'm typing this post sitting on the front row at the CIPR's PR 2020 event at Russell Square HQ. To my left, Stephen Waddington. To my right, Julio Romo. On stage we have CIPR CEO, Jane Wilson, Dr. Jon White, and ComRes Marketing Manager, Simon Thwaites.

ComRes annual survey

ComRes conducts an annual review of key market stats for the UK PR industry, and Simon is running through that right now. Interestingly, in light of the PRSA's current Defining PR initiative, which the CIPR supports, only 44% of ComRes poll respondents agreed with the statement "My friends and family understand what I do for a living."

ComRes finds that the most common PR functions undertaken in practice are: strategic planning, media relations, online reputation management.

I'm not entirely clear how helpful this finding is when the terms are pretty vague. Think about it – do you know a practitioner who would claim to be doing anything that wasn't strategic? And aren't all meetings somewhat to do with planning; QED, lots of strategic planning! Not quite how I'd describe strategic planning, but you can see how these things can be interpretted in sloppy fashion.

And if definitions of public relations often reference reputation, and with that web thing being really important, we must be doing lots of online reputation management. Right?


I've skipped over some of the other ComRes findings presented this afternoon, and will insert a link here as soon as the stack is online. It's worth a butchers despite my negative take here.

I hope we'll learn more from Dr. Jon White's research...

PR 2020

Jon's research is based on scenario planning, reviewing the best case outcome, the worst case outcome, and the most likely outcome on a range of critical issues. He ran workshops all around the UK over the summer months, where practitioners led and explored these scenario plans, and I very much enjoyed participating in the London session.

Some panel information:

  • 106 participants in 15 national, regional and special interest group meetings
  • 28% male / 72% female
  • 48% consultancy.

Jon pulls out this quote from a session with the CIPR Midlands group, 1 August 2011:

Are we fearful of the best case scenario? Working towards the best case scenario means becoming transparent, accountable and better at what we do.

In my words, professional PR practice is bloody hard work!

By 2020, the research finds that a successful practice will be:

  • Clear on what public relations is, and the benefits it can deliver
  • Strongly led
  • Respected
  • Established as a senior management discipline
  • Leading on innovation

My goodness, Jon has just said there were 60 most-likely scenarios, including:

  • Some movement towards more professional practice
  • Practice remains ill-defined, 'fuzzy', an element in marketing
  • Reputation much the same
  • Little progression on measurement.

Damn, the last one cuts like a knife. I'm wondering how well known the Influence Scorecard will be by 2020?

Ten recommendations for action

  1. Encouragement to the Institute to provide leadership and meet expectations for its leadership
  2. Education and training for PR practice need to be taken to higher levels, which will involve greater collaboration with education and PR
  3. Practitioners need greater confidence in what they do, and should lead practice development by example
  4. There is a need for clearer thinking and guidance on measurement and evaluation
  5. Codes of conduct should be strengthened
  6. Practitioners need to move faster to develop their knowledge of digital communication
  7. There is a need for better definitions of PR and what it is to achieve
  8. Change should be embraced
  9. Industry bodies should commit to R&D
  10. There is a need to synchronise experience and fresh talent, and to celebrate young people in practice.

The full report is now available on the CIPR website. I'm looking forward to diving in to the full 90-odd pages!

And you can read Stephen Waddington's post here.