Workplace Mental Wellbeing Audit 2021: Francis Ingham Forward

Francis Ignham, PRCA Director General

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), Opinium Research and The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) have published new research on the state of mental health in the UK industry. PRCA Director General Francis Ingham reflects on the findings and shares his own battle with mental health.

I thought long and hard about what to say in this foreword. And after a great deal of hesitation, I reached the conclusion that honesty was best. So here goes…

I have suffered from appalling mental health my whole life. Frequent bouts of depression; destructive and pointless anxiety; an underlying lack of confidence. All of which I’ve hidden from almost everybody.

Why do I say this now having kept quiet about it for decades? Because it would be disingenuous to do otherwise given the content of this report, and given the recommendations it makes, particularly about the need for candour.

Covid threw a powerful spotlight on mental health. I have never before had so many conversations about how people were feeling. And they were honest conversations, not the ‘Oh fine thanks. How about you?’ type. That’s one positive of Covid, and I can’t see it going away.

This report delivers data on where we are, and recommendations on what we should do. Some of its findings -such as nine out of ten practitioners have suffered mental ill health over the past year- are shocking. Others -such as three out of four have found their workplace to be supportive- are very welcome.

The four recommendations are simple, sensible, and sound. You shouldn’t feel guilty because you’re feeling unwell. You definitely should talk about the issue. We need to take better care of ourselves, and for many, that’s about workload. And where hybrid working works well, keep on with it -we’ve certainly embraced it at the PRCA and ICCO: some people like working from an office -cool. Some people like working from home -that’s cool too. Most people like a mix.

For many of us, this has been the most stressful, challenging period of our lives. Many people have been broken by it. Even more have come close to breaking point. But every crisis is a catalyst for change, whether for the better or for the worse. If we embrace the recommendations made here, then that change can definitely be for the better.

ICCO announces new Regional Presidents

ICCO is pleased to announce that five Regional Presidents have been appointed, who will represent the recently formed Regional Boards covering Europe, Americas, Middle East, Africa and Asia.
The following candidates were elected by the ICCO Global Board of Management:
Europe: Juergen H. Gangoly, Managing Partner, The Skills Group; Vice President, Public Relations Verband Austria (PRVA)
Americas: Aaron Kwittken, Global Chairman & CEO, Kwittken; Board Director, PR Council
Middle East: Loretta Ahmed, CEO, Middle East, Africa & Turkey, Grayling; Chairman, PRCA MENA
Africa: Bridget Von Holdt, Executive Director, Glasshouse Communication Management; representative of the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA)
Asia Pacific: Nitin Mantri, CEO, Avian Media; President, Public Relations Consultants Association of India (PRCAI)
The Regional Presidents will join the Global Executive Committee, comprised of the Global President, Vice President, Treasurer, immediate Past President, the Regional Presidents, and the Chief Executive.
The new structure, announced at the Global ICCO PR Summit in Oxford in September, aims to ensure that all regionals, organisations and individuals represented by ICCO can create and develop their own voice for the benefit of the regional and global PR and communications industry.
Commenting on the new structure, ICCO President Maxim Behar said: “All regions from now on will be represented in the ICCO Global Executive Committee. But not only that; elected Regional Presidents are great professional colleagues and widely known PR experts and we do believe that their input into ICCO’s management will be significant. We all look forward to working together to strengthen ICCO’s position as the largest global PR community.”
Juergen H. Gangoly, newly appointed Regional President – Europe said: “With ICCO’s new regional structure in Europe, we have the goal to further grow the organisation and make the voice of Europe’s PR industry even more heard by the public. We will intensify ICCO’s relations to European institutions and to partner organisations in the wider communications industry all over Europe. Supporting cross-border co-operation amongst our members from training and educational activities to business and information services will be part of ICCO’s working programme in Europe for the coming years.”
Aaron Kwittken, ICCO Regional President – Americas said: “I am looking forward to working with my colleagues around the world to better promote cross-border collaboration and conversation around a compelling point of view on our role in an increasingly digital world without agency borders.”
Loretta Ahmed, ICCO Regional President – Middle East said: ““As we continue to evolve our agencies and what we do on behalf of our clients, we must also do so with one eye on the rest of the world. That connection, especially for a region emerging as fast as the Middle East is critical. I’m honoured to be elected President for ICCO in the Middle East. Having lived in the region for four years I continue to see communications consultancies delivering world class campaigns and ICCO provides another platform for recognition on all that the Middle East PR sector is achieving.”
Bridget Von Holdt, ICCO Regional President – Africa said: “Africa tends to be the forgotten continent, yet is identified as a focal growth point for so many international companies. As the Regional President, I will use the ICCO platform to position Africa and the agencies represented on the continent as strategic partners, as innovative and of course as the experts within the region.”
Nitin Mantri, representing Asia Pacific as Regional President, said: “ICCO has been making giant strides in elevating the public relations profession, and now with the regional bodies there will be greater consistency in communications standards across the world. The aim would be to encourage discussions on the issues facing the industry and sharing the best practices across this region to elevate ICCO’s role in Global public relations.”
About ICCO
The International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) is the voice of public relations consultancies around the world. The ICCO membership comprises national trade associations, agencies and networks in 48 countries across the globe in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Americas and Australia. Collectively, these associations represent some 2,500 PR firms.

Executive Summary – World PR Report 2016

Article by Francis Ingham, Chief Executive of ICCO

The ICCO & PRWeek World PR Report is the definitive analysis of where the global PR and comms industry stands today; how it has been performing over the past year; and what it predicts will happen in the next few. Drawing on the breadth and depth of ICCO’s membership – 37 national associations, operating in 48 countries, and representing more than 2,500 agencies – it is a vital tool in understanding our industry.

What are the headlines?

Agency heads are optimistic. On a scale of 1-10, there is a global average of exactly 7. The most optimistic markets are the UK (8.1), and the Middle East (8.0); the least are Latin America (5.9), and Africa (6.0).

And they are expecting an increase in profitability, with a score of 6.2. Leading the pack is North America (7.2), followed by the UK at precisely 7. At the other end, we have Latin America again (5.2), and Western Europe (5.7).

Both of those findings deserve celebration, given the at times tempestuous and uncertain state of the world economy. What is driving this performance? I would highlight three factors, which we have seen for the past few years now, and which are remarkably constant region-by-region.

The first is chief executives taking corporate reputation seriously. Quite simply, the business community around the world is more aware than ever before of the fact that their most important asset is their reputation.

The second is that marketers are taking their spend away from other disciplines, and diverting it into more effective mediums of PR and comms. And the third is that clients are increasingly asking public relations firms to provide non-traditional services.

Those last two points amount to one incontrovertible trend – in an increasingly integrated marketing world, PR’s nimbleness, insight, and creativity is beating the competition.

What have been the main practice areas of growth?

Four stand out head and shoulders above the rest – digital comms; corporate reputation; marcomms; and public affairs. And when agency heads are asked to predict which sectors will drive growth over the coming years, they name exactly those four again.

Obviously, there are variations by region, reflecting different local priorities, and different levels of market maturity. But the message is clear – those areas have driven growth in the past, and are set to do so again in the future. Looked at by sector, we again see four key areas of growth now and in the future – technology; consumer; healthcare; and financial and professional services. And underpinning all of this behaviour is the crucial role PR and comms agencies now play in social media and community management, and in creating content across the whole range of media – areas where wise agencies are making significant investment. So far, so encouraging.

But what of the challenges faced by the industry?

It will come as no surprise that two perennial ones are right up there – meeting profit margins, and handling general economic conditions. The first is a symptom of PR’s inability to charge appropriately for the value it delivers – former ICCO chairman Richard Houghton’s regular lament that ‘Fridays are free’; the second is something over which we have no control.

The area where we certainly have the ability to make a difference is talent. In six of the nine world regions, it tops the bill as the key challenge. In fact, only in Asia does talent not rank in the top three. Although our industry continues to power ahead, its growth is being hindered by our failure to attract and then to retain the very best.

Within that challenge are two specific areas of concern: hiring senior staff, and attracting people from non-traditional background. The latter is of particular concern to ICCO. If agencies keep on recruiting the same type of person, with the same type of background, they are automatically excluding themselves from large parts of the market. The more varied teams are, the abler they are to deliver excellent services to the widest possible range of clients.

I would make two final observations: First, and it is a point made by several contributors from different regions, the industry has reached a happy place of maturity. Social media and content may be the biggest areas of growth, but there is still room for the older skills of PR and comms, such as media relations. And that place exists in established and developing markets.

There is, quite simply, a home for all branches of our profession.

Second, what a brilliant time to be in this industry. Even in difficult economic circumstances, PR and comms agencies are profitable, growing, and optimistic.

How would I sum up the future? Bright. And getting brighter.

Download a free copy of the ICCO & PRWeek World PR Report 2016 here


ICCO announces new Innovation in Communications panel

ICCO has announced at its annual Global PR Summit that it will be launching a new Innovation in Communications panel.

The panel will aim to engage and educate the international public relations and communications industry on innovative topics relating to its development. It will also prepare research into new practices and encourage the adoption of ground-breaking ideas and products. Finally, it will benchmark and develop best practice standards in communications and engagement.

The panel will be co-chaired by Russell Goldsmith, Founder, Audere Communications, and Elayne Phillips, Head of Civil Service Communications & Internal Communications, Prime Minister’s Office & Cabinet Office Communications.

The panel will be made up of the following members:

  • Richard Bagnall
  • Hanna Basha
  • Stuart Bruce
  • Dom Burch
  • Simon Collister
  • Russell Goldsmith (Co-Chairman)
  • Michelle Goodall
  • Joanna Halton
  • Gabrielle Laine-Peters
  • Rachel Miller
  • Adam Parker
  • Elayne Phillips (Co-Chairman)
  • Julio Roma
  • Andrew Smith
  • Paul Wilkinson

If you would like to find out more information about the panel, please contact Russell Goldsmith.

Francis Ingham, Chief Executive, ICCO, said: “Innovation is key to good communications and is an essential part of a thriving PR industry. The panel will share best practice and innovative practices with the wider global PR and communications community. The industry is already at the forefront of innovation and the panel will serve to encourage a healthy debate on innovation.”

Russell Goldsmith, Founder, Audere Communications said: “It’s a genuine thrill to have another opportunity to work with the same forward thinking individuals who made up a large part of the CIPR’s Social Media Panel.  After our work in that team finished in December 2015, a number of us felt there was more value we could add and having spoken with colleagues and peers in the industry, across business and in the public sector, we felt it appropriate to re-launch the panel with a focus on innovation in products and practice across international communications.  We were therefore delighted that ICCO agreed to support us and give us a platform to achieve our objectives.”

Elayne Phillips, Head of Civil Service Communications & Internal Communications, Prime Minister’s Office & Cabinet Office Communications said: “Professional communicators from in-house teams, agencies and consultants, are facing similar global challenges – some of which can be solved with innovative communications.  As a group, we have always been proud to be progressive in our approach, challenge the status quo and offer new thinking, and we want to continue to push the boundaries.  So, get involved, follow us, contribute to discussions and join us at the heart of innovation in communications.”

About ICCO

The International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) is the voice of public relations consultancies around the world. The ICCO membership comprises national trade associations in 48 countries across the globe in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Americas and Australia. Collectively, these associations represent some 2,500 PR firms.

ICCO and PRWeek launch World PR Report 2016

The World PR Report 2016, published by ICCO and PRWeek, has today launched at the Global ICCO PR Summit in Oxford.

The report, presented by Francis Ingham, Chief Executive, ICCO, is the annual analysis of the international public relations industry. The report includes a breakdown of the top 100 global agencies, market analysis from regional leaders, and a report on agency growth, opportunity, investment plans, and talent challenges.

The report revealed that agency heads are optimistic – on a scale of 1-10, the global average for optimism is 7. The most optimistic markets are the UK (8.1) and the Middle East (8.0). The least are Latin America (5.9) and Africa (6).

When asked about their expectations of profitability, North America came in highest with a score of 7.2, followed by the UK at 7. Latin America came in lowest at 5.2.

Noted areas of growth include digital communications, corporate reputation, marketing communications, and public affairs. These growth areas vary by region, reflecting differing local priorities and differing levels of market maturity.

Commenting on the Report, Francis Ingham said: “The World PR Report is the definitive analysis of the global PR industry. It is only by understanding where we are and in what direction we are moving that we can continue to drive growth and invest in opportunities. We are thrilled to see that the industry is bright, and getting brighter.”

Danny Rogers, Editor-in-Chief, PRWeek, said: “We are very proud to present the World PR Report 2016; the best, and most contemporary, guide in existence to the PR industry across the globe. It has been produced by PRWeek, the pre-eminent source of news and analysis of the sector, and ICCO, the voice of PR consultancies around the world.

“As well as providing the definitive ranking of the world’s top 100 PR consultancies and further listings of local agencies, the World PR Report 2016 has asked this vast network of PR firms about the recent trends in their business, along with their forecasts for the year ahead. We look forward to the next year, and revisiting these rankings and indicators in a year’s time to gauge progress.”

Full analysis and commentary of each of the markets is available in the World PR Report, which will be published by PRWeek both online and in the magazine.

About ICCO
The International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) is the voice of public relations consultancies around the world. The ICCO membership comprises national trade associations in 48 countries across the globe in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia. Collectively, these associations represent some 2,500 PR firms.

ICCO announces new regional structure

ICCO is pleased to announce that it has launched a new regional structure for its organisation.

The new structure divides the world into five regions consisting of the Americas, Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. Each region will have its own Regional Board with an elected President. It is then these Regional Presidents who will go on to elect the Global President for ICCO, a position that is held for two years.

As well as being the voice of ICCO in their region, each Regional President will support its members by putting on a conference and awards each year which will be held in their region. This will result in ICCO having six conferences each year, as well as six international awards programmes.

The purpose of this change in structure is to ensure that all regions, organisations, and individuals represented by ICCO, can create and develop their own voice for the benefit of the regional and global PR and communications industry.

Francis Ingham, Chief Executive, ICCO, Director General, PRCA, said: “Ensuring that ICCO members receive the best services has always been at the forefront of our goals. I believe that this new regional structure will ensure that every member can access the very best insight, resulting in both depth and breadth of knowledge. Crucially, this new structure will allow us both to service our greatly-increased number of members, and also to grow even further in the future.”

About ICCO
The International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) is the voice of public relations consultancies around the world. The ICCO membership comprises national trade associations in 48 countries across the globe in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Americas and Australia. Collectively, these associations represent some 2,500 PR firms.

Oxford summit to focus on the PR consultancy of the future

The Global ICCO PR Summit takes place later this month (29 & 30 September) in Oxford, UK.

The event theme focuses on “creating the consultancy of the future”, with a particular emphasis on talent, inspiration and innovation. International industry leaders presenting at the event include Karen van Bergen, CEO, Omnicom Public Relations Group; Michelle Hutton, COO, Edelman Europe, Scott Kronick, President & CEO, Ogilvy PR Asia Pacific; Alex Aiken, Executive Director, Government Communications – UK Government; Ian Pearman, CEO, AMV BBDO; Pascal Beucler, Chief Strategy Officer, MSLGROUP; and Andres Wittermann, Executive Vice President EMEA & APAC, LEWIS.

The conference will also see the launch of the much anticipated World PR Report 2016 which has been produced by ICCO and PRWeek.

Registration details and the full line-up are available on the ICCO Summit website.

ICCO Chief Executive Francis Ingham said: “If you work in PR and communications, then you need to be in Oxford on September 29th and 30th. We’ll have some of the industry’s biggest names there, drawn from right around the world, giving their analysis of where we now, and where we will be in the future. The ICCO summit is the pinnacle of the PR and comms conference season – if you’re serious about your profession, you’ll be there.”

Content marketing platform Passle is the event’s headline sponsor, and will be running a panel session discussing what brands, including the personal brands of staff, say about  agencies.

Passle co-founder Tom Elgar said: “We are delighted to sponsor the ICCO global summit. As the voice of public relations consultancies around the world the ICCO summit is the ideal place for Passle to showcase its platform that enables busy experts to demonstrate their knowledge and experience online. By creating timely, authentic commentary on news and trends Passle makes it easy for PR experts provide industry-leading analysis for their clients, prospects, employees and stakeholders.”

Previously the summit has been held in cities including Milan, New Delhi and Paris, and is the major annual event of the International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO).

The event will take place at Macdonald Randolph Hotel, Oxford and will be co-chaired by David Gallagher of Omnicom, Nitin Mantri of Avian Media (India) and Andrey Barannikov, CEO, SPN Communications (Russia). It is also sponsored by Paprika, Capstone Hill Search, ePressPack, Conversis, Gorkana, Avian Media, Porter Novelli, 72 Point and OnePoll.

For more information on attendance and sponsorship, please contact Charlene Corrin, General Manager, ICCO:

PRCA UK Census 2016 reveals that the PR industry is worth £12.9bn

Article by PRCA

The PR Census 2016 launched by PRCA has revealed that the UK PR industry is worth £12.9bn – over £3bn more than previous figures in 2013.

In 2016, the PR industry’s value is estimated to have grown by 34% since 2013 when it reached £9.62bn.

The PR Census 2016 has also revealed that the PR industry has grown to around 83,000 employees. This is an impressive level of growth since 2013 when it was 62,000 strong.

Launched yesterday, the PR Census 2016 is the most comprehensive and authoritative analysis of the PR industry, developed by the PRCA in conjunction with PRWeek and global research house YouGov.

Francis Ingham MPRCA, Director General, PRCA, said:

“Three things stand out for me from the PR Census 2016.

“The first is growth. Our industry is surging ahead, becoming bigger and bigger. And that growth is seen in pretty much every sector. The industry, it seems to me, has settled down to a balance between what we used to think of as its new and its traditional forms.

“The second is difference. Differences in gender balance; in pay; in expertise and duties. The industry is composed of plenty of unique hubs of PR excellence all around the country, all powering forward in slightly different manners.

“And the third is challenge. The gender pay gap is still obvious, and still troubling. We still recruit from too narrow a circle, denying ourselves access to some outstanding talent. And far too many of our industry still –remarkably- turn to AVEs when measuring their impact.

“We intend using every bit of influence we have to address every one of those challenges.”

Danny Rogers FPRCA, Editor-in-Chief, PRWeek, said:

“As someone who has been in and around this industry for two decades – first as a graduate trainee in PR, and later as an industry editor and author – what strikes me about the PR Census, is how little the big themes actually change.

“We are still discussing the future of print, the hot growth of healthcare and tech, the difficulties of measurement and the lack of diversity. But the industry is getting most things right. Because for most of those two decades UK PR spend has been growing rapidly, and continues to do so. Another constant is PR’s adaptability – and this is more critical than ever as technology and media rapidly transform each other.”

The PR Census 2016 also revealed:


The PR industry remains a young industry, with an average age of 28. It is a female-led industry, with 64% of its employees being women. 34% of PR people have children or dependents.

There has been little change in PR’s diversity since 2011, with 91% being white and 89% being British. However, the youngest generations in the industry represent important improvements in diversity levels.

Undergraduate degrees remain the predominant highest form of education, a fact that becomes more prevalent with each younger generation.


51% of industry members believe that PR is a profession. 40% see it as an industry.

The Barcelona Principles 2.0 are the leading form of PR evaluation, but AVEs remain a significant measurement format.

Technology and health are the mostly hotly-tipped sectors to increase investment in PR in the coming years.

Digital, S.E.O., and online communications are seen as the tasks that have most increased in importance over the last two years, and also those that will increase most in the coming years.

Sales promotion, general media relations and writing articles, newsletters etc, are the roles thought to have most decreased in importance over the past two years.

What do we do?

Our leading duties are general media relations, media relations strategy planning, and digital and social media.

The senior members of the industry oversee communications strategy development and reputation management; while younger members handle general media relations and writing.

Technology and consumer services, media, and marketing continue to be the most prevalent sectors in which PR agencies work.

PR agencies are most likely to be made up of between 11-50 people. In-house teams are overwhelmingly made up of 2-5 people, regardless of organisational size.

Salaries, benefits and working hours

The average PR salary is £45,100, down from £53,781 in 2013.

The average agency salary is £44,805, down from £54,311 in 2013. Pay at the senior levels has fallen, but professionals who are Account Director-level or below have seen a small increase.

In-house salaries increase more uniformly, and the average salary is £43,591, down from £50,438.

The average freelancer salary is £56,789, down from £73,322 in 2013.

There is a significant pay disparity between men and women, an average of £9,111.

The highest salaries in PR agencies go to those handling central government work, alongside retail and wholesale, and food, beverages and tobacco. In-house salaries peak for those working for technology, finance, and utilities companies.

PR professionals are contracted to work, on average, 35 hours a week. However, the average amount of time they are actually working is 45 hours a week.

The leading form of flexible working in the PR industry is flexitime (core hours with flexible start and finish) which is taken up by 28% of the industry.


The market sizing data was calculated by taking a combination of historical data from the previous PR Censuses published in 2011 and 2013, combined with PRCA benchmarking studies, and the Government’s ONS tables of industry sizing and growth.

The online survey generated 1,874 responses, and was generated by YouGov using two different sample sources:

  • Targeted sample sent to PRCA members and PRWeek subscribers
  • Public link on PRWeek and PRCA websites

The fieldwork was undertaken between 17th February – 26th April 2016.



Who we are: Founded in 1969, the PRCA is a UK-based PR membership body, operating in 45 countries around the world. We represent in excess of 20,000 people across the whole range of the PR industry. The PRCA promotes all aspects of public relations and internal communications work, helping teams and individuals maximise the value they deliver to clients and organisations.

What we do: The Association exists to raise standards in PR and communications, providing members with industry data, facilitating the sharing of communications best practice and creating networking opportunities.

How we do it and make a difference: All PRCA members are bound by a professional charter and codes of conduct, and benefit from exceptional training. The Association also works for the greater benefit of the industry, sharing best practice and lobbying on the industry’s behalf e.g. fighting the NLA’s digital licence.

Who we represent: The PRCA currently has more than 400 agency members; 270 in-house communications teams from multinationals, charities and leading public sector organisations; and thousands of individual members.


Who are the most inspirational people in PR today?

Written by: Daney Parker


PR Moment

Who are today’s most inspirational PR thinkers? Senior communicators nominate those they most admire and who are helping to shape the PR industry for the better.

Alex Aiken, executive director, UK Government Communications. “Alex is transforming the way in which democracies engage and communicate with the communities it serves for greater accountability, transparency and impact. I learn something new and useful in every interaction with him, and his efforts in public service are just as influential in the private sector,” says David Gallagher, CEO of PR firm Ketchum Europe (who himself happens to be one of PRCA’s Francis Ingham‘s PR heroes, see below).

Adrian Wheeler, five-times divorced ex-chairman of the PRCA, and serial non-exec. Francis Ingham, PRCA director general, nominates Wheeler for his “optimism in the face of reality“. Ingham’s names two more of his PR heroes:

David Gallagher. “Master of making ‘you’re completely wrong’ sound like a compliment’”.

Alison Clarke, ex-CEO Grayling and ex-PRCA chairman: “Spinning the most threadbare of materials into absolute gold: the correctly-named @PitchWitch”.

Liz West, PR manager at theme park Alton Towers. Nikki Alvey, owner of agency Media Hound PR recommends West, “for a very open and well managed PR and social media response to the crisis this year.”

Caroline Kinsey, founder of and chairman of PR agency Cirkle. Neville Hunt, senior lecturer at University of Bedfordshire says: “Caroline has an enviable reputation as one of the top individuals and females in the PR industry and she has had senior roles in the two leading UK PR industry bodies. Caroline is an exceptional person who has won many personal awards and under her leadership Cirkle has won 30 awards over the past three years.”

Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why. “His work on the importance of having a purpose or belief at the heart of every organisation is very inspiring” says Richard Moss, CEO of PR firm Good Relations. Moss lists two other PR thinkers who are an inspiration:

Seth Godin, author of Purple Cow. “My thinking on creativity has been influenced by this book, which is about transforming brands and business by being remarkable, had a real impact on me. The very best creative work is always inherently remarkable – quite literally – it’s worth talking about.”

Malcolm Gladwell, I really admire his work in ‘The Tipping Point’, a book which theorises the factors at play when an idea “crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire”.

Sarah Scales, co-founder of PR agency Brands2Life. Sally Bratton, managing director or agency Bratton PR, says: “Sarah is an inspiration: I worked with her, in a freelance capacity, around 10 years ago and was impressed by her commitment to client needs, as well as the speed and effectiveness of her decision-making. In addition, she has built a strong team around her, who she works well with to achieve the best possible results.”

Michael Prescott, global head of comms at BT. “Michael has been integral to moving perceptions for BT from a utility to a modern media company in close partnership with the CEO and board. He came into PR after years as a national political and home affairs journalist. Kept his strong sense of what works for media and political audiences in terms of engaging communications. One of the best connected and most liked PROs in the UK across media, politics and other key influencer audiences.” Nominated by Colin Byrne, CEO, UK & EMEA at PR firm Weber Shandwick, who by happy coincidence is our next nominee.

Colin Byrne, Weber Shandwick. “Strangely enough as a PR professional I actually choose not to follow many of the ‘top PR gurus’ because I often find their views too corporate or outmoded. However, there is one person in the PR world who proves this viewpoint wrong; Colin Byrne. Perhaps the reason for this is that he’s not your typical PR agency head. In fact, ‘left-wing, Northern and working class’ is the Weber Shandwick Europe chief’s description of himself.” Byrne’s admirer is Sharon Barlow, director and PR specialist at agency Stop and Stare Marketing.

Francis Ingham, PRCA.Francis has expanded the membership, the services and the professionalism of the PRCA and the industry … and he has done whilst enjoying himself.“ Nominated by Trevor Morris, professor at Richmond University. Morris goes on to praise two other of his PR heroes …

Tim Bell, founder of PR firm Bell Pottinger. “Never pious. never dull, often controversial, nearly always charming. Still the biggest and probably the oldest name in the industry.”

Sally Costerton, director at Sally Costerton Advisory. “For her drive, her success and her advocacy for senior women in PR”.

Paul Sutton, independent social and digital media consultant: “Paul has a good view on things, especially the intricate relationship between PR/social/content and I enjoy reading his blog. Paul, like me, has grown up in a traditional PR world but has embraced the opportunities that digital brings the industry.” Sutton is one of the choices of Jim Hawker, owner of PR agency Threepipe, his other choice is Danny Whatmough.

Danny Whatmough, head of social, EMEA at Weber Shandwick. “Danny has got a good grip on things from an integrated way of thinking and I find myself agreeing on most of his viewpoints. Danny is great at filtering news and making good reading recommendations through his Twitter channel.”

Sally Hetherington, business and creative communications consultant. Jane Austin, owner of agency Persuasive Communications says: “Sally just gets on with it and has no ego – it gets in the way of good relationships, good results and a good time. Sally has integrity, doesn’t submit
to trends and has always trodden her own path. She’s instinctive, tenacious, endlessly creative and always hits the spot.”

Anne Gregory, professor at the University of Huddersfield: “Anne has given great public service as CIPR president and, latterly, as chair of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management. Anne’s recent book with Paul Willis on Strategic Public Relations Leadership should be read by all PR and corpcomms managers.” Nominated by Tom Watson, professor at Bournemouth University, his other nominee is below.

Ansgar Zerfass, professor at the University of Leipzig in Germany. “Ansgar is current chairman of EUPRERA and is the leading communications management researcher in Europe and probably world-wide. He was one of the founders of the European Communications Monitor which is the annual benchmark study of current corpcomms practice. Ansgar has excellent relationships with many major German industrial and financial organisations which fund practice-oriented PR and corp comms research in a manner not found in the UK. His research papers are well worth reading as they consider current issues”.


When we asked “who are your PR heroes these days?”, two senior PROs explain why they cannot name names:

Graham Goodkind, group CEO & Founder of agency Frank PR: “I get constantly inspired by the young talent coming into Frank, they are the ones who provide the new and fresh thinking that leads us to come up with better and better ideas. As one gets older and has done PR for a while, there is a natural tendency perhaps to do the stuff that has worked in the past. A negativity acquired by experience can also develop; you start to hear “Oh, that’ll never work” one too many times. Whereas those fresh to this business have a lovely naivety, they don’t know if things are possible or not, so they naturally push through barriers to come up with really great insights and creativity.”

Jane Carroll, head of corporate development at Peppermint Soda: “When it comes to PR, it’s not necessarily hearing people talking sense, but seeing it in action that impresses me. The term ‘guru’ can be thrown around with great abandon and, in my opinion, should be approached with a healthy dose of scepticism.

“Of course, there are many stellar PR people in the industry who do excellent work day in, day out. The people I look up to in the sector are often those who do a great job, yet work quietly in the background. For example, the comms team at Alton Towers handled a very intense crisis management situation with extreme calm and proactivity earlier this summer – it’s work like this which should be applauded.”

Original Article from PR Moment

If Cannes is an indicator, the future belongs to PR

Written by- Francis Ingham


PR’s reputation on La Croisette is growing, so now it’s time we took on the ad agencies.

No word carries such mystique in the PR world as ‘Cannes’. It conjures images of rosé wine; helicopters from Nice; yachts; topless sunbathing; and random celebs making tangential points about the merits of their clients’ products. And like all great myths, that parody contains some truth.

But having been here with ICCO for the second year, I also know Cannes is so much more than that. Sure, the location is meant to entice. There are plenty of advertising execs. And Kim Kardashian had a moment when her yacht wouldn’t fit into Cannes harbour for her to convey the groundbreaking observation of ‘maybe I tweet too many selfies in a bikini’. But Cannes does represent and celebrate the extraordinary creativity of the PR industry. So, what lessons did I draw?

– PR is flourishing. Our industry won many more awards this time. MSL should be proud of its #LikeAGirl campaign – pride confirmed in victory.

– PR is here in greater numbers than ever – I bumped into dozens of agency heads, many here for the first time.

– PR is truly international. Judging by the Cannes badges, this year there were many more countries there.

– PR’s future is assured. ICCO ran and made possible the Young Lions programme, celebrating young PR. And the ideas generated were astonishing in their breadth and sophistication.

– PR is growing globally. We like to think of the UK and US as world leaders – they are. But the Young Lions’ gold went to Sweden. The silver and bronze to Columbia and China respectively.

But the main point is this – PR represents the future; advertising the past. When PR first came to Cannes it was the poor relation. Poor in numbers; weak in submission content; disappointed in such a small number of wins. Today? It’s the thrusting, entrepreneurial member of the family, with the best ideas. Winning more business. Looked on with envy by – yes – its more cumbersome, less imaginative relations in advertising.

Of course, not everything is rosé (get it?). Too many people think they can’t win here, so they don’t enter. Our production values and the presentation of our content still need to improve. And we need to grab some of that advertising industry arrogance – the confidence to bid for big budgets and then spend them. In a straight fight, advertising still plans a little better; does creativity a little better. And yet…

The key attributes the judges looked for were excellence in campaign design and delivery. And the ability to link commercial purpose with wider social change. I’ve no doubt that those metrics are ones on which PR can happily base its future.

The agency bosses I met this week recognised the challenges, but were incredibly positive about addressing them. They were proud to represent their industry, and optimistic about its future. Representing the PRCA, now the UK’s biggest professional body, and ICCO, the largest international one, I felt the same. If Cannes is anything to go by, the future belongs to PR.

Original article from PRWeek