By Aarti Shah
Last week, the Holmes Report launched its inaugural Innovator 25 that spotlights those who have challenged the industry to do things differently. Among them, 21 participated in an online survey that assess how the industry has responded to changing market dynamics.
Most strikingly, the vast majority described the PR industry’s level of innovation as lagging — but even this varies significantly depending on each respondent’s vantage point. The survey also revealed surprisingly disparate responses on where innovation needs to happen.
For instance, all of those outside of PR rate the sector as lagging. Among them, Forbes’ chief product officer Lewis DVorkin and Altimeter analyst Susan Etlinger say the industry should focus more on content creation; while Media Survey owner Sam Whitmore considers research/analytics to be a top innovation priority. Silicon Valley Watcher publisher Tom Foremski asserts the industry needs to put more emphasis on digital marketing.
Seventy-one percent of in-house professionals shared this perspective. Trulia’s Ken Shuman and Coca-Cola’s Ashley Brown consider content creation the way for PR to make innovative inroads. Meanwhile, Citi’s Frank Eliason maintains change management is key and IBM’s Ben Edwards looks towards digital marketing.
Virgin America’s CMO Luanne Calvert considers PR’s innovation level on par with other marketing disciplines. Meanwhile, BMC’s Mark Stouse says “clients already see us as innovative. They don’t see us as business people and that’s why so many of us are left outside the boardroom doors.”
Not surprisingly, those inside agencies took the most optimistic view. Only half said the PR industry lags when it comes to innovation. Twenty-percent called the industry highly-innovative, while the same number feels it’s on par with other marketing disciplines.
When asked where PR needs the most innovation, Next15’s Tim Dyson and Edelman’s Cricket Wardein said digital marketing; RFI’s Scott Schneider, Ogilvy’s John Bell and LaGrant Communications’ Kim Hunter point to content creation. W2O’s Bob Pearson, Weber Shandwick’s Leslie Gaines-Ross and PMK*BNC’s Michael Nyman say the industry needs to be more innovative when it comes to research and analytics.
Hill + Knowlton’s Peter Zandan says there are “pockets of brilliance” throughout the industry, but it would benefit from “innovation in everything we do.” Havas’ Marian Salzman says the impetus for innovation is management style and “less talk about life/work balance and more people who balance work and achievement with a happy family life. It does take a village and agencies need to thrive in villages.”