Gorkana Group

PR in 2020 – the shape of things to come?

Following on from the Gorkana Group sponsored PR Census 2011 which revealed a healthy and vibrant public relations industry, I attended an interesting event last week.  You may have heard of #PR2020, in fact some of you may have even attended one of Dr Jon White‘s sessions at the CIPR HQ in London.  I went last week and was joined by eight other PR professionals from both in-house and PR agencies.  Whilst having to keep the essence of the workshop confidential (so as not to prejudice the upcoming sessions and hence the research project), I am able to to offer a flavour of the evening.

The Future of PR – Working towards 2020

The topic discussed was “what will successful PR practice look like in 2020?” .    We used ‘scenario planning’ to drive a number of conclusions.   Scenario planning emerged as a discipline from the Cold War,  and the USA in particular, planning “what if?” situations to great effect.  Since then many businesses have used this approach, such as Shell, when anticipating the impacts different potential events might have.  To start this process you need to consider what would success in the future look like.   Once the features are noted down, of which there is no pre-defined number, you need to select three or four key ones to work on.  Jon’s recommendation is to work on three features given the depth of discussion and the debate to follow.    For each feature, you need to ask three questions :

i) What’s most likely to happen
ii) What’s the best case scenario
iii) What’s the worst case scenario

Then take each variable in turn and work through these questions until completed before progressing onto the next. Scenario planning works best when experts from different areas of the business are involved.

The main discussion points are noted down to follow up on and further agree if the ‘mostly likely’ outcome is acceptable and amend until it is. Following this comes the deeper debate of how the ‘most likely’ outcome can become ‘best case’ and of course what actions need to be considered to mitigate ‘worst case’ scenario occurring. This brings about ‘word clouds’ which help form an action plan, or route to event success for all concerned.

‘Scenario planning’ is a thorough and careful design, which allows the detail of a topic to be acknowledged and dissected until a reasonable conclusion has been met. Often the ‘success’ features identified at the outset need to be changed as discussion influences a different or updated variable. The principles used here can clearly be applied in many working areas, including PR and even Metrica and Gorkana Group‘s day to day planning. A good example for PR would be crisis management, planning for the event and the outcomes. From this a contingency plan can be designed and implemented to mitigate risk and brand damage limitation.

Jon is completing 15 workshops in total, with the end result producing a report including all session feedback to use within the Research and Development at CIPR. The plan is that this will be complete and available for all to read in September. Already there have been many consistencies seen in terms of key success drivers for PR in 2020, which is encouraging to see.

When thinking about the skills and challenges facing the PR industry for it to remain successful and viable into 2020 and beyond, what should you be feeding into your scenario plans?

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Written by Jessica Callaghan

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  • http://twitter.com/EliotLondon Eliot Mannoia

    #in RT @MetricaMeasures PR in 2020: shape of things to come? Following the Gorkana Group sponsored #PR Census 2011 http://t.co/MjGQQvn


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