PR rising stars reflect on their careers and the industry: An interview with Max Mitchell (part 1 of a 2-part series)

Gifted with a talent for editorial narratives and a perfect environment for professional growth, markettiers Team Head Max Mitchell, reflects on his career journey, including winning the 2020 Rising Star of the Year award at the 2020  ICCO Global awards.

Mitchell got his start at markettiers—a leading broadcast PR agency generating creative national, regional and international campaigns—six years ago. After completing a Media Studies course at Kingston College, Mitchell reached out to markettiers’ CEO, who set him up with an internship. When his stint as an intern ended, Mitchell was offered a full-time role in the company’s newsroom. Now, he works as a Team Head, a position he’s held for the last two years.


ICCO: Can you walk us through your roles/ career up to now including your time at markettiers?

MM: I started my career at 21 within markettiers’ newsroom. I was introduced to, and worked with, ex-journalists and broadcast experts who taught me what makes a good editorial story, how to pitch to broadcast and the importance of understanding the needs of different media.

My role then moved from media-facing to client-facing as I became a Senior Account Executive and began taking my experience of the media to clients, advising, and reviewing current PR plans through the lens of landing broadcast media.

After a few years I climbed the ranks, and eventually, when I was a Senior Account Manager, I lead a team of 6 people. My role was very much about leading from the front and to help nurture and grow the team as we continued to bring on more brands.

The team grew to eight to 10 individuals and my role then included ensuring we continue to hit commercial targets and milestones. At which point, I was promoted to my current role as a Team Head.

ICCO: What attracted you to a career in communications?

MM: Growing up I always loved watching TV and going to the cinema. If you look at that as a standalone statement everyone’s first reaction would be ‘ooh he’s a bit lazy,’ but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Unlike most people, I loved the adverts and always wondered why they all looked and sounded so different.

What this ultimately meant for me is I excelled in anything in school that included media and allowed me to get answers to those questions. Eventually, my interest shifted from wondering why brands were talking and sounding the way they did to how and why those particular words were chosen and positioned the way they were. I ended up meeting the head of markettiers, who gave me the opportunity to join their newsroom, where I fell in love with editorial narratives. I never looked back.

Max Mitchell, winner of the 2020 ICCO Rising Star of the Year award and Team Head at leading broadcast PR agency, markettiers.

ICCO: What aspect of your work do you enjoy the most?

MM: I’m going to cheat a bit on this answer because I honestly feel that without any one of these things in my day-to-day my job just wouldn’t be the same.

Firstly, the variety of clients I get to work with is extraordinary. I can be helping to launch a new vegan food product from a well-known high-street retailer on Monday, by Wednesday be championing small businesses and helping traditional bricks and mortar businesses digitally upskill and broaden their offering, and finish the week off making sure an environmental charity’s B-roll has had a touch point with international media in South America.

None of that, however, would be possible without my colleagues, whom I adore more than they know, and being a team lead puts me in a unique position where I can interview and help bring new, amazing, and diverse talent into the industry and into my team, to ensure we can continue our great work.

ICCO: How has your work life evolved over the past 2 years, not only in terms of your win but also the pandemic?

MM: Completely. And I don’t mean this just in the way that I now work from home most of the time in comparison to how I used to. The beginning of the pandemic for me was such a learning curve. I watched our senior team completely re-organise and re-focus a 100+ people workforce, not out of fear or worry but out of understanding that media habits were changing and therefore we must too (despite how comfortable we have become in the 27 years the company has been going), which is no easy feat, let alone to do it successfully.

This meant that my team and I had to, in essence, forget a lot of what we knew and spend even more of our time understanding media habits, needs and wants to ensure that we could continue to guide our clients through an ever-changing media landscape and continue to do great work for them.

ICCO: Has there been a campaign or project over the past year that you’re especially proud of contributing to?

MM: Absolutely. I run the team within markettiers that works with Freuds and the Cabinet Office on their Covid response within broadcast. Since the beginning of the pandemic, our role has been to use radio and TV to ensure the messaging around keeping safe, getting vaccinated and alike have cut through.

I’m extremely proud to have been a part of the current drive to make the UK the leading country in the vaccination programme and if even just one person listened and did something which ultimately saved theirs or a loved one’s life… that’s a job well done as far as I’m concerned. However, we know the reality is that many thousands have been reached and influenced by our work in a valuable way.

ICCO: Is there a personal characteristic that you feel has been greatly developed through your work in PR and communications?

MM: Through all its pros and cons, I have always been a pretty empathetic and understanding person, and this for me has continued to develop as we continue to work with a variety of diverse brands: the only way to truly communicate to diverse groups is to try and understand their hopes, dreams, fears, and cultural differences beyond just demographic.

ICCO: What are your thoughts on the importance of ethical PR & Communications globally?

MM: Being ethically sound should be strong in everything we do, and PR & Comms is no different. I personally believe there is a high standard of ethics within the industry but of course there is more that can be done, not least by actively engaging and supporting the individuals and organisations making those changes.

ICCO: ICCO’s World PR Reports over the last two years have revealed that retaining talent is the industry’s number 1 challenge. As a young person in the industry, do you have suggestions regarding ways PR leaders can nurture and retain the talent of younger employees?

MM: This is such an interesting question because I don’t think we can understate how important fresh, ambitious, and diverse groups of young talent are in this ever-changing industry and world. I also don’t feel this topic needs to be over complicated.

We work in an industry where businesses boast and win awards for reaching and changing the perceptions of everyone from the general public to the most discreet groups. Saying that, you would think we should have the highest rate of retention! Yet the truth is behind closed doors they lose young staff due to lack of understanding, listening and communication.

My advice for PR leaders is this: truly want to teach the next generation, share, and recognise the successes and compensate the pressures. I genuinely believe at markettiers my senior team care for me, want me to succeed and, although I’m not perfect, make sure through my career I’m on the straight and narrow. And for that I give them my loyalty and best.

Ultimately, be as great at communicating with your team as you are your clients. Be empathetic, give space to grow and celebrate growth that comes from the inevitable bumps in the road. In essence, make everyone feel we are all in this together.



This is part 1 of a 2-part interview series with 2020 and 2021’s ICCO Rising Stars of the Year. Visit News – ICCO PR next week for an interview with 2021’s winner; Interel’s Victoria McNish.

Cannes Young Lions PR Competitions to begin in March

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) has opened three prestigious Cannes Young Lions PR Competitions managed by PRCA UK, PRCA MENA, and PRCA APAC, respectively.

Sponsored by the International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) and in partnership with PRovoke Media, the Cannes Young Lions PR competition celebrates outstanding creativity and recognises excellence among up-and-coming public relations and communications professionals.

Competing teams from across the world enter a pre-selection process in their own country established by their local Cannes Lions representatives. PRCA UK, PRCA MENA, and PRCA APAC will join other associations around the world in hosting regional competitions before the world’s very best young professionals compete for the coveted global prize.

Key registration dates and information can be found on the respective PRCA websites.

– PRCA UK page
– PRCA MENA page
– PRCA APAC page

ICCO will host ‘Cannes Uncovered’ on 8th February to discuss all things Cannes Lions, including tips for this year’s Young Lions entrants, register here.

How does the competition work?
Briefed by a charity or NGO, teams of two – aged 31 years old or younger – will have just 24 hours to shape a PR strategy that demonstrates creative process, connects with the organisation’s brand values, engages with the public, and builds relations with relevant stakeholders. The campaigns will be judged by a selection of local industry experts with the winner of each region awarded the opportunity to compete digitally for the global crown at the Young Lions Marketers Competition 2022. The crowned winner will then have the option of attending the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2022.

PRCA Director General Francis Ingham MPRCA said:

“This is the most prestigious competition for any young person in our industry. My advice to anyone thinking of entering? Be fearless and authentic. This is a wonderful opportunity for a young team to shine on a global stage. Best of luck to all our entrants – the PR world will be watching.”

Visit here for more information about Cannes Lions.

Four Global Industry Leaders Inducted into ICCO Hall of Fame

The International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) inducted UK Government Communication Executive Director Alex Aiken, Nigerian PR trailblazer Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, and Global Women in PR co-founders Angela Oakes and Susan Hardwick into its exclusive Hall of Fame during today’s ICCO Global Awards ceremony.

Established in 2003, the ICCO Hall of Fame recognises those who have made exceptional progress in the internationalisation of the public relations industry, and who have combined cultural sensitivity with commercial acumen to create agencies that share global reach with local relevance.

The 2021 Class joins industry greats like Harold Burson, Richard Edelman, and Margery Kraus.


Alex Aiken, Executive Director for UK Government Communication, said:

“It’s an honour to be recognised alongside leaders of our industry like David Gallagher, Karen van Bergen and Barry Leggeter. And I’ve learnt from the work of many people that the ICCO have already recognised, from Harold Burson to the Edelman’s, and the late Lord Bell. I’m grateful to the ICCO and will use this recognition to redouble my efforts to promote effective, ethical and enterprising communication around the world.”


Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, President, African Public Relations Association (APRA), Group Managing Director, CMC Connect (Perception Managers), said:

“I am deeply humbled and honoured to have been elected into this famed hall of achievers in public relations. As I celebrate it, I am quickly reminded of how much more work we still have to do to ensure public relations is rightly valued. Many of our clients relate with us with great levels of ambiguity, which blunts our competitiveness. We as practitioners must collectively correct this anomaly through Affirmative Public Relations. I thank ICCO for recognizing Africa through me and as a continent, promise to continue our contributions to the advancement of global practice.”


GWPR Co-Founders Angela Oakes and Susan Hardwick said:

“We are both absolutely delighted to accept this award in recognition of the networking organisation we founded and developed – GWPR. Sue and I launched GWPR as a not-for-profit membership organisation in 2015. Our goal is to champion, connect and support women in senior roles in PR and Communications all over the world.

“Over the last six years we have successfully built a truly global membership organisation, with GWPR national networking groups and affiliates across Europe, Russia, India, Africa, the Middle East, Central America and Asia Pacific.  And in 2022 we are thrilled that the US will also be joining the GWPR global network.

“The gender issue of ‘women in the boardroom’ is high on the business agenda globally and although PR women dominate this industry worldwide, there remains a significant imbalance in the boardroom. We strongly believe that creating a better balance is important; not just for women, but for business as a whole. Not only do we shine a light on these issues, but we drive activity programmes to come up with solutions and help make change.

“Finally, we would wholeheartedly like to thank ICCO – and in particular Francis Ingham – for having faith in us and supporting us since the very beginning.”




Further information about the 2021 ICCO Hall of Fame Inductees:


Alex Aiken is the Executive Director for Government Communication covering international issues and national security. He is part of the leadership of the Government Communication Service and was appointed in December 2012. He had led the biggest government campaigns of the last decade on Covid, Brexit, and the GREAT Britain campaign. Between 2000 and 2012, he was Director of Communications and Strategy for Westminster City Council. Before joining Westminster he worked in Parliament and for Conservative Party. He has trained and advised politicians and officials in countries and states around the world in the practice of government and communications.


Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, or YBO, as he is popularly called, is one of the premier PR practitioners in Nigeria and Africa, with more than 30 years of experience. Having founded CMC Connect Limited in 1992, Yomi has consulted for many multinationals and governments in Nigeria and abroad in areas of government relations & legislative affairs, perception management, marketing, advertising, PR and crisis communications. He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) where he was past Chairman of the Lagos State Chapter. He also sits on the boards of several blue-chip companies in Nigeria. As part of his continued efforts at mainstreaming Africa into global PR practice, YBO has served as a Board Member of the International Public Relations Association (IPRA).

His love for Africa is evident in his selfless service to the African Public Relations Association (APRA) where he served as a two-term Secretary-General and is the current President. He was recently appointed as West Africa Chair for the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA). He has bagged several awards in his profession including the prestigious PR Golden Eagle Award as the Most Outstanding Public Relations Person of the Year 2010.


Angela Oakes is a PR professional with an impressive track record working with global multi-nationals on strategic brand development and integrated consumer campaigns. In the 1980s, Angela worked at several London-based PR agencies including Hill & Knowlton, Catalyst Communications and the Grayling Company, where she worked with the Grayling founder to help develop the business. This invaluable experience of seeing a successful agency being built from scratch led her to subsequently launch her own PR agency Oakes Bacot, later re-branded Treehouse PR.

Angela’s personal experience of the value of a networking organisation like WPR, at a time when she was juggling her own business with childcare responsibilities, spearheaded her decision to work with Sue Hardwick on launching Global Women in PR in 2015. She believes this is her legacy to the global PR industry and a clear demonstration of her passion to empower the next generation of PR women to become senior leaders.

Susan Hardwick was formerly a board director at one of the UK’s top PR consultancies (owned by Countrywide Porter Novelli), head of communications for a large retail chain, and ran her own business (Hardwick PR).

An experienced advisor on brand development and issues management, Sue handled a wide portfolio of UK and international clients. Clients ranged from FTSE 100 companies to top international sporting events. Whilst being primarily based in the UK her work was of a global nature masterminding communications programmes throughout Europe and the USA.

Being involved with Women in PR provided a very important support network when juggling running a business with being a mother. To have had the chance to then develop GWPR has been a significant part of Sue’s involvement in the PR industry. Networking remains an essential part of business life and to have helped to generate a worldwide group of organisations, supporting each other, has been a real high point and an important part of supporting women in an industry she loves.

Ketchum shine at ICCO Global Awards

Ketchum companies clinched the most wins with five at the ICCO Global Awards: Purpose, Digital and New Media, Influencer Marketing, Financial Services and Media Relations.

Fleishman Hillard claimed the team award for Network of the Year as well as the team award for Championing Diversity. BECG won Independent Consultancy for the Year, while the Grand Prix Prize for the best campaign of the year went to Fanclub PR for ‘Mount Recyclemore’. Leader of the year was Dr Vivien Chiong from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.


The awards, sponsored by CARMA, Vuelio, thenetworkone, Milk and Honey PR and M&A Advisory, took place online and were hosted by ICCO Chief Executive Francis Ingham. Finalists from Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States competed for 25 prizes.

Alison Clarke, Awards Jury President, said:

“As the challenges of the pandemic have continued throughout 2021, the awards entries show that agencies have responded with impressive campaigns at the heart of critical global issues, creative commercial work, and impactful ideas. What all the winning campaigns share across a wide variety of countries and cultures, is that they achieved tangible results in line with their strategic objectives. It was a joy to see the work and I’m greatly encouraged by this evidence that the industry is in great shape”.

The full list of winners is as follows:

Healthcare Award – sponsored by PRovoke

Walgreens Boots Alliance and Hill+Knowlton Strategies/WPP – Walgreens Combats Health Disparities During the COVID-19 Pandemic with Its Vaccine Equity Initiative



Digital and New Media Award – sponsored by BlackHouse Media

Ketchum London – Bodyform/Libresse – Pain Museum



Best Cross Cultural Campaign




Purpose Award

Ketchum & McCann and CARAT – Mastercard – The Strivers Initiative



Broadcast Award




Influencer Marketing Award

Ketchum & Omnicom Public Relations Group – The Incredible Egg Challenge



B2B Award – sponsored by M&A Advisory

Kurio – Framery One – The First Connected Sound Proof Pod


Financial Services Award

Ketchum, McCann & Carat – MastercardThe Strivers Initiative



Strategy and Evaluation in a Campaign – sponsored by CARMA

Methods and Mastery – Biden for President Influencer Activation



Media Relations Award

Ketchum Austria – New German Media Makers #WeatherCorrection



Public Affairs Award

Interel UK – APPG – On Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing #notalaughingmatter



Event, Launch or Stunt Award

Fanclub PR – Mount Recycelmore



Consumer Award

W7Worldwide – Healthcare Innovation for the Saudi Market



Technology Award

Fanclub PR – Mount Recycelmore



Not-for-Profit Award

Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation and Hill+Knowlton Strategies – Making the Global Goals Personal


Lifestyle Award

Orta Communications – Barbie, «You can be anything», with Anna Kikina



Automotive and Transport Award

Value360 India – ANCHORING in the storm of national unrest: MG Motor India



Crisis & Issues Award

FleishmanHillard Vanguard – Avon Campaign Against Domestic Violence



Employee Communications

Pragma komunikacjie  Internal Product Launch for Takhzyro


Grand Prix: Overall Campaign of the Year

Fanclub PR – Mount Recycelmore



Rising Star of the Year

Victoria McNish, Interel UK



PR Leader of the Year

Dr Vivien Chiong, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore



Championing Diversity




Independent Consultancy of the Year – sponsored by The Network One




Network of the Year – sponsored by CARMA


ICCO Global Summit: Learnings and future action

The ICCO Global Summit – which brings together the brightest minds in the industry to discuss and advance new ideas and catalyse innovation through dialogue and collaboration– returned as a hybrid event this year. Over two days, we listened and learned from PR and communications experts and futurists from over 30 different countries.

How did it go? From the reactions pouring in from PR leaders across the world, I would say the Summit went incredibly well. We came away with new approaches and gameplans that will help us navigate our everchanging world, prioritise our employees and local community members, engage in deeper and more courageous conversations and engineer an enduring legacy for our industry and our world.

We had some great content with talent, integrated communications, purpose, ESG, and transparency coming out as key themes. My takeaways from the Summit which should be acted upon right now:

Invest in your people’s well-being – nothing is more important

We all are aware that the Covid-19 aftermath put greater emphasis than ever on the well-being of workforces. Mental health has emerged as one of the key subjects in discussions around employee welfare. And really, we’d be foolhardy to ignore this much-needed conversation. Look at what’s happening to those who have done that. They are bearing the brunt of the Great Resignation. In all the discussions on talent at the Summit, the top reasons cited for people leaving included excessive workload, toxic culture, lack of recognition, inequitable work-life balance, and unfair treatment. Which means, workforces today will no longer lay low and tolerate sub-par working conditions.

If we want to retain talent and expect them to be sincere and committed, we must prioritise creating work environments that make them feel seen, heard, and recognised. According to The Bravery Mandate, WE’s 2021 Brands in Motion Reports, respondents have rated employee wellbeing and personal needs (physical, mental, and financial) as the most important issue. And employees have been rated as the group leaders need to communicate with the most (over customers, shareholders, and the media).

Flexibility is the key in this new era

In 2022 and beyond, we must make it our purpose to rebuild a company culture that has employee engagement, growth, and welfare at its core. To do that we must move with the times and find a middle ground, starting with embracing the hybrid work model with new openness. Surveys have shown that many employees would like to continue remote work, while some want to return to work in an office. Flexibility is the key here.

Important data for your consideration:

  • Surveys have shown that flexible and remote working is more important than financial benefit for employees.
  • Flexible working has gone up by 91% this year (for men and women) in PR.
  • Remote working has gone up by 20% in one year.

The hybrid model will differ from office to office. Regardless of how it is executed, organisations must exercise empathy and listen to employees’ feedback and then incorporate them in their decision-making. Forcing employees to come to work full time is clearly not favoured.

Help employees cope with mental health issues

The pandemic has exacerbated people’s mental health problems, and it is our responsibility to equip our employees with tools and resources to protect their mental well-being. This can be done in the following ways:

  • Conduct regular employer surveys to detect and understand mental health problems in the organisation. During the pandemic, we had conducted several surveys, which had specific questions on mental health, and that helped us gauge the problems faced by our people.
  • Drive awareness and action on mental health by encouraging people to openly talk about mental health and back up that talk with action. For example, my firm launched a #WECare initiative, a couple of years back, to improve people’s mental and physical health. As part of this programme, we host webinars with mental health experts and encourage our people to discuss their problems.
  • Make mental health services more accessible to employees. Here again, I will give another example from my firm. We launched an ‘Employee Assistance Program’ to provide counselling services to employees. The initiative includes a mental well-being support helpline and free access to resources such as open webinars, reading material, to name a few.
  • Strive for work-life balance. I know that sounds impossible in the PR industry, but push back on unrealistic demands and deadlines whenever possible.

Bottomline: To make the industry more attractive to young talent, we must continue to champion our people: ensure that they feel good about the company they work for, their contributions, and the company’s larger purpose—and that they tell their friends about it. Annabel Dunstan’s, Founder and CEO, Question and Retail, four-point plan for people retention hit the right chord with me: Listen Better, React Better, Feedback Better and Engage Better.

Break down the silos – integration is the way forward

Agility is key in 2022 and beyond. We cannot deliver on client expectations and manage them if we don’t creatively collaborate and integrate our services. The World PR Report has shown that the industry continues to have the best of both worlds – old school skills are still heavily in demand, but digital competence, insight, corporate reputation management and strategic counsel continue to power ahead.

We already own digital and continue to provide non-PR services such as marketing and advertising, and this dynamic merger is paying dividends, as was pointed out by Francis Ingham. But we must challenge ourselves to incorporate more integrated capabilities into our campaigns. For this, we need to build a team of people from diverse professional backgrounds. PR jobs have already evolved over the past decade, and we are seeing new roles such as insights and analytics experts, data specialists, social media managers, brand journalists, to name a few. As the economy and job markets evolve, new roles will emerge.

According to a report released by The World Economic Forum, 97 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between human, machines, and algorithms over the next five years. We must be ready to bring together different species of PR specialists to continue to demonstrate our value. I know hiring from outside the industry is a pain point, but if we can demonstrate our value, show that the possibilities are limitless when you work in PR, and focus on the wellbeing of our people, we will attract diverse talent.

Bottomline: Integrated communications is a tremendous asset that will help our clients achieve an even greater level of brand and product success, through strong integrated storytelling across the entire media ecosystem. We just have to be passionate about helping clients solve challenges and create approaches that incorporate the right blend of capabilities.

Purpose means bold and brave action

Only brands that have the courage to take bold and long-term action on deep and complex issues will flourish in 2022 and beyond. The days of armchair activism are over. A decade ago, consumers would believe whatever a brand said if it was said with confidence and aplomb. But today, where information access is at our fingertips, consumers will look for evidence. Sustainability pledges that won’t come due for decades to come aren’t good enough. The people in your community need to see the impact of your actions with their own eyes.

During most of the discussions at the Summit, the call for businesses to increase their environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG) performance was stronger than ever. More and more consumers are expecting socially responsible and sustainable practices across industries and business sectors. Investors and policymakers too are seeking out and supporting businesses that prioritise ESG. Even consumers and B2B decision-makers surveyed for the latest WE Brands in Motion report, rated environmental sustainability and income equality among the top issues brands must address.

Bottomline: As their strategic partners, it will be a key communications priority to help brands create an authentic purpose legacy by building on their core promise and making deep and sustained investments in the issues their stakeholders care about most.

The power of integrity and transparency can’t be overlooked

The profound upheavals of the past 18 months have made the clamour for authenticity a business imperative. As the Executive Director for Communications, UK Government, Alex Aiken, said, “Truth and openness are more important than ever in modern communications.” A few recommendations on how we can go about it:

  • Always defend the truth: The erosion of trust in the media and the proliferation of social channels and online sources of news have resulted in a misinformation surge. As communicators, we must be scrupulous about the facts of any story we promote and hold both clients and journalists accountable. It is our moral responsibility to work with only recognised experts to bring fact-based, unbiased information to our clients and their stakeholders. Everything published must be attributed to a credible source. For this, we must consider investing in fact-
    checking tools.
  • Fight for a free press: Communicators should do their part in restoring faith in free media and free speech – both essential to an effective PR business. The need of the hour: a concerted effort by all stakeholders – communications firms, news organisations, brands, technology providers and users – to sustain a vibrant, authentic media.
  • Use technology responsibly: Technology will continue to present golden opportunities to innovate and advance. But we must strike a balance between innovation and ethics and choose what works best for our clients without sacrificing consumer privacy.
  • Amplify communications efforts by government agencies: In any public health crisis, a government often faces challenges in conveying messages to the public and in the absence of information, people fall prey to misinformation. PR professionals should consider how they can use their gift of communications to support government efforts by creating and delivering powerful, persuasive messaging. For, example, to counter anti vaccination campaigns, a game-changing collaboration of vaccine stakeholders, supported by communication strategists, is the need of the hour.
  • Stick to your values: We are cognisant of the fact that for PR agencies, our clients are our customers. And, just like their customers, clients today are more inclined towards working with agencies that put purpose over profits – agencies that really care about their people, community, and the environment they operate in. And that is what our employees – arguably our most important stakeholders – expect of us too. Employees want to work with organisations that they can be proud of. Surveys have shown that Millennials and Gen Z will be only willing to work if their values are aligned with a company. So, while we counsel our clients on purpose, we also need to put our money where our mouth is. If we think a brand’s actions are against our values, we must choose ethics over commerce and have the courage and conviction to push back.

Bottomline: The responsibility to maintain ethical standards extends to every single member of the PR fraternity. Till the time we walk the talk, we will not find a cure to the industry’s ethical dilemma.

In conclusion, I hope communications continues to be a catalyst of change. The pandemic has shone a light on the vital importance of communications and PR. But we cannot be complacent. We need to keep communicating from a place of purpose, clarity and empathy and show people a new way forward – a way that illuminates our shared humanity.

Nitin Mantri
President, ICCO
Group CEO, AvianWE

Strategic consulting firms as most critical PR skill – ICCO World PR Report

World PR Report 2021 2022 booklet

PR and Communications professionals across the globe have citied ‘strategic consulting’ (45%), ‘measurement, evaluation and analytics’ (35%) and ‘research, planning and insight’ (32%), as its top three areas of skillset investment, to help nurture, develop and retain talent – in the recently published ICCO World Report 2021-2022.

The specific areas of focus for talent development come on the back of 52% of those surveyed, saying that ‘retaining PR and Communications talent’ was the biggest challenge for their business going forward.

On a survey out of 10 (1 being strong disagreement and 10 being strong agreement), 6.1 was the average score given for PR and Communications professionals feeling like there is a ‘plentiful supply of talent’ across the world.

The report – published in partnership with Opinium – delivers a compelling snapshot of the global PR landscape, revealing the issues, trends, and opportunities for agencies across seven worldwide regions.

Reuben Sinclair Co-Founder and Managing Director Rohan Shah said:

Given the tumultuous nature of the past two years, it is no surprise that 45% of respondents believe that the most relevant skillset for future PR executives over the next decade will be in the realms of strategic consulting. Retaining talent still remains a significant challenge across the board and therefore offering a compelling employee value proposition (EVP), is key.”

PRCA Director General and ICCO CEO Francis Ingham said: 

“The ICCO World PR Report shows a global industry that continues to have the best of both worlds -old school skills are still heavily in demand, but digital competence, insight, corporate reputation management, and strategic counsel continue to power ahead. Everywhere in the world, strategic consulting is becoming a PR executive’s most important skill.  As the industry recovers strongly, developing and retaining talent that addresses these areas will be more vital than ever.”

Download the report here.

PRCA Ethics Council Leaders Speak to PR Industry Ethics Confidence-Index Trends in New ICCO World Report Data

– Western Europe Maintains Lead as World Region with Highest Confidence in PR Industry Ethics

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) Ethics Council noted measurable fluctuations in specific regions of the world tied to the PR industry’s self-assessment of ethical operation, based on new data just released by the International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) World PR Report 2021-22.

ICCO serves as the voice of public relations consultancies globally, with a membership composed of 41 associations and more than 3,000 PR firms across 70 countries, from Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Americas, and Australasia.

The ICCO World PR Report is the definitive study of the global public relations industry, conducted annually by ICCO.

Every year, it provides agency leaders with vital information on the composition and direction of the public relations industry, including an analysis of where the global PR and communications industry stands today; how it has been performing over the past year; and what it predicts will happen over the next few years.

Two years ago, in ICCO’s 2019-2020 World PR Report (with data procured in Q3 2019, pre-pandemic), the statement “The PR industry operates ethically” received a 6.8 global composite score of agreement on a 10-point scale (where 1 equals “strong disagreement” and 10 equals “strong agreement”):

pr industry operates ethically graph showing total score of 6.8 out of 10 believe it does act ethcially

Last year’s 2020-21 World PR Report (with data procured in Q3 2020) saw Western Europe surge to the regional lead ahead of North America, with a then-7.5 agreement index to “The PR industry operates ethically” statement, but with the global composite score decreasing from 6.8 to 6.3:

pr industry operates ethically graph showing total score of 6.8 out of 10 believe it does act ethically. 2022 figures

In ICCO’s 2021-22 World PR Report (with data procured in Q3 2021) just released on Nov. 17, 2021, the global composite agreement index to the statement “The PR industry operates ethically” improved slightly, from 6.3 to 6.5.

Geographic regions that increased in agreement-index from the prior year included Africa, Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Regions that lost ground with lower agreement ratings from the prior year included the Middle East, North America and Western Europe, although Western Europe continues to lead the world’s regions with the highest agreement-index score of 6.9. The United Kingdom maintained the same score from the prior year.

pr industry operates ethically graph

ICCO President and PRCA Ethics Council Co-Chair Nitin Mantri (Group CEO of Avian WE in India) said:

“Given our vast power to shape narratives across politics, business, and society, ethics must be integral to PR. And as custodians of truth and reputation, we understand that. It is, therefore, encouraging to see that in the face of rising misinformation, agency heads are operating ethically, and the scorecard has improved from last year.

“But now more than ever, the pressure on our clients, and us, to be honest is at an all-time high. Consumers want brands to do societal good, but they aren’t yet convinced that brands are delivering. They are aware of purpose washing and will call out an insincere campaign in a heartbeat. It’s our responsibility to ensure that our clients make genuine commitments to important issues and ground their statements in long-term, quantifiable action. And while we do this, it is essential that we – as an industry – be consistent, authentic, and empathetic. We need to stay true to our values and what we stand for, whether we are dealing with our clients or engaging with our own workforce.”

PRCA Ethics Council Co-Chair Mary Beth West (Senior Strategist of Fletcher Marketing PR in the United States) said:

“You can’t achieve credibility without accountability, and proving PR’s worth on both counts is essential for elevating our industry’s core value to clients and to the boardroom.

“From my own vantage point based in the U.S., it is beyond concerning to see a steady decline of North America’s prior industry-leading posture in 2019 of a 7.4 ethics-confidence index, to 7.0 in 2020 and now 6.6 in 2021. How much lower must it go before the North American industry cohort says, ‘Enough!… We must do better!’?

“PR industry leaders should encourage any colleague to report instances of observed and documented ethics misconduct, while vocally discouraging unethical management retaliation against those who are whistleblowers. Minus that, we will find ourselves in an ethics-compromised accountability / credibility downward spiral, with catastrophic economic damage.”

PRCA Director General and ICCO Chief Executive Francis Ingham MPRCA said:

“The PRCA Ethics Council is committed to raising standards in public relations all around the world, and it’s therefore important that practitioners reflect on the data contained in ICCO’s annual report. If we are candid, there is still much room for improvement, particularly because of the turbulent environment caused by Covid. The PRCA and ICCO have placed ethics at the heart of our work, and our resolve to drive change for the better has never been stronger.”

Meaningful Measurement and Evaluation to shape the future – ICCO World PR Report

ICCO World PR Report 2021-22 booklet

Global agency heads predict meaningful measurement and analytics technology will have the greatest impact on the PR and communications industry’s future, according to the 2021-2022 ICCO World PR Report.

When asked which technology will have the greatest impact on the industry in the future, 21% of respondents predicted measurement and analytics, followed by research, insight and planning (18%).

With clients and brands requiring support more than ever in corporate reputation, purpose initiatives, and digital services, there is a growing opportunity for PR and communications teams to entrench effective measurement and evaluation frameworks in their services. In fact, one in four respondents expect to invest in measurement, evaluation, and analytics in 2022. A further 18% expect to invest in research, planning, and insights.

Encouragingly, the research paints a picture of a global industry more aware and willing to embrace meaningful measurement and evaluation approaches, as championed by AMEC, to prove the power of its work. 58% of respondents across the world now use AMEC’s free educational tools and resources, with the UK (73%), Africa (69%), and Eastern Europe (67%) recording the highest usage.

The report – published in partnership with Opinium – delivers a compelling snapshot of the global PR landscape, revealing the issues, trends, and opportunities for agencies across seven worldwide regions.

Richard Bagnall, global co-managing partner CARMA International and Chair, AMEC, said:

“Economic uncertainty around the globe driven by unprecedented debt levels, socioeconomic and political challenges means that budgets will be tight and client organisations will be expecting a meaningful return for their investment. They are looking for organisational-relevant results that support their objectives, not to be serviced by ‘busy fools’ confusing meaningful evaluation with activity driven ‘counts and amounts’. Leaning in, learning and embracing meaningful measurement approaches and best practice as championed by AMEC and endorsed by ICCO is the way to do this.”

PRCA Director General and ICCO CEO Francis Ingham said:

“This can be a pivotal moment on evaluation for our industry. Clients and senior colleagues have seen the enormous value that effective communication brings during this Covid period. Now is the time therefore to encourage them to integrate proper measurement and evaluation into everything they do -and ICCO and AMEC are determined to do just that. To steal a famous quote -carpe diem.”

Johna Burke, Global Managing Director, AMEC, said:

“The seeming disproportionate use of quantitative data is only part of the 2021 ICCO World report story. This important benchmarking research also highlights the shift in focus toward objectives aligned with reputation, purpose, sustainability, and diversity, which will force the qualitative values of PR and communication – these objectives are never represented by a single number or vanity metric. AMEC is proud to partner with ICCO, as its members navigate this shift and balance qualitative and quantitative measurement and evaluation.”

Download the report here

Singapore’s Heather Seet & Victoria Brown, winners of the ICCO Next-Gen PR World Cup finals

Heather Seet (L) and Victoria Brown (R) are the official winners of the 2021 ICCO PR World Cup

Mutant Communications’ Heather Seet and Victoria Brown have today won Gold at ICCO’s inaugural Next Generation PR Word Cup. The UK’s Elliot Payne and Sophie Webster won Silver, and France’s Maria Da Silva and Vasileios Vrakas claimed Bronze.

Representing PRCA Asia Pacific as Team Singapore, Heather and Victoria competed against 10 national teams, between 13-20th October, to be crowned the world’s best. In the final, pairs representing Finland, France, Hungary, India, Italy, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Singapore, UAE, and the UK were set a brief by the International SOS Foundation. Teams had to not only come up with a creative idea but also put together a five-minute video pitch explaining how they would implement the idea on a practical level.

The Next-Gen PR World Cup is the first competition held by ICCO to showcase emerging PR talent from around the world. To reach the final, teams first had to win at a national and regional level, by responding to a brief set by a local charity or NGO.



Heather Seet, Associate, Mutant Communications

Victoria Brown, Manager, Mutant Communications


Elliot Payne, Junior Creative, Boldspace

Sophie Webster, Junior Creative, Boldspace


Maria Da Silva, Influencer Consultant, Agence Proches

Vasileios Vrakas, Account Manager, Omnicom PR Group

Elliot Payne (R) and Sophie E. Webster (L) received silver at the PR World Cup finals

The winners will now receive the opportunity to present at the 2022 ICCO Global Summit, as well as an opportunity to lead ICCO’s new Next Generation Advisory Group, which will be launched in 2022.

Kayla Perfect, Senior Group Marketing Manager, International SOS Foundation, and Chair of the Jury said: “On behalf of the International SOS Foundation, we are humbled with the efforts put forth in the competition. The calibre of the campaigns, ideas and innovation is commendable. They all address Duty of Care in their unique way and many could be implemented immediately”. Commenting on the winners, Kayla added: “A very thorough campaign utilising all of the Foundation’s channels. Commendable emphasis on measuring the success of the campaign”.

Maria Da Silva (R) and Vasileios Vrakas (L) received bronze at the 2021 PR World Cup finals.

Rob Morbin, ICCO’s Deputy Chief Executive, said: “Congratulations to Heather and Victoria for an excellent pitch, beating fierce competition! The International SOS Foundation provided a tough brief but each team rose to the challenge. The ICCO Next-Gen Final was a true showcase of the global PR industry’s emerging talent. I look forward to working with Kayla and Victoria on our Next Generation Advisory Group, as we look at fresh ways to support our young members and emerging leaders.”

The competition brief is available here and all of the competitors pitches will made available on the ICCO website.

Jessica Oppenheim & Leticia Villegas – Mexico’s ICCO Next-Gen PR World Cup Finalists

As the competition period for the inaugural PR World Cup finals come to a close today, October 18th, we wanted to take some time out to congratulate a few more of these talented finalists for making it to this stage. Jessica Oppenheim and her teammate, Leticia Villegas from Mexico, are one of eleven teams from around the globe to participate in the 5 day long competition. Over the last 5 days, all teams have worked to create and film a PR campaign video pitch for a brief set by Think Tank, the International SOS Foundation. As of today, an international team of judges will score each pitch. Winners will be announced on October 21st. In a meantime, join us in getting to know team Mexico!

Jessica Oppenheim, Senior Account Supervisor for P&G, Porter Novelli Mexico & ICCO Next – Gen PR World Cup finalist

Jessica Oppenheim

Senior Account Supervisor for P&G, Porter Novelli Mexico


Q: What’s your favourite PR campaign that you’ve been involved in or have seen?

Jessica: The first campaign that I worked for in a PR Agency made me fall in love with PR, it was about bringing the first chapter of ILTM Americas (International Luxury Travel Market) to Mexico’s Riviera Maya. It was an amazing experience to host media from all over the world, having the same interests as me, while showcasing the beauties of my country.

Q: What does being creative mean to you?

Jessica: Being creative is to have the ability to see beyond a brief or requirement and, instead of doing it the traditional-lineal way, it is taking it to another level of inspiration, turning it into something unexpected, surprising, and intelligent.

Q: Favourite social media account to follow?

Jessica: @prgirlmanifesto, @herve_in_paris, @allaboutwanderlust_, @dudewithsign, @mrwonderful_, @pictoline, @ocean_obsessions_

Leticia Villegas, Porter Novelli Mexico’s Senior Vice President & ICCO Next-Gen Finalist

Leticia Villegas

Senior Vice President, Porter Novelli Mexico’s 


Q: What’s your favourite PR campaign that you’ve been involved in or have seen?

Leticia: What I enjoy the most of my work in PR is to create connections and strategies for brands to be and show their best version and have a positive impact on their communities, with results being seen through the engaged response shown by people. A memorable instance where I was able to participate was Batman’s 80th anniversary celebration, where the Batsignal was shone on different buildings across the world, an iconic symbol which brings good memories across generations.

Q: What does being creative mean to you?

Leticia: Being creative is to give shape to ideas in order to take risks, create the unexpected and always retain the ability to improve and adapt as needed.

Q: Favourite social media account to follow?

Leticia: @natgeo, @magnumphotos, @humansofny, @seregalandudas, @rp_latam


Winners of the PR World Cup will be announced across all ICCO platforms on October 21st.