The Death of the PR Pantologist? Hiring for the future of our industry – from the ICCO 2015 Global Summit in Milan

Written by: Aaron Kwittken


The Death of the PR Pantologist? Hiring for the future of our industry -- from the ICCO 2015 Global Summit in Milan

Last week, I traveled to Milan, Italy to participate in the ICCO Global Summit to moderate a panel called, “The Talent Integration Game, Decoded.”

ICCO is a gathering of some of the best and brightest in the global PR community so I was thrilled to take on the job – plus, how bad could a few days of work in Italy (and the inevitable extra pasta) be?

The panel I moderated explored the implications on hiring talent for an industry that is shifting toward a more integrated and omni-channel approach. I was joined by Maxim Behar, CEO of M3 Communications Group, and Rachel Bell, CEO and founder of Shine Communications. In our discussion, we explored how the historical sentiment that PR agency talent should be “jacks of all trades” fits in with today’s omni-channel environment. Social strategy, community management, content creation, experiential and data analytics skills are all par for the course in today’s world of PR agencies.

One of the major takeaways from the conversation came in the staunch agreement that PR agencies, globally, must start changing their internal culture to be more inclusive of specialist talents and non-traditional backgrounds. Agencies need to start integrating team members who understand a multi-disciplinary approach in order to form inter-disciplinary teams that are focused on building data-driven programs that are social and digital by design. There has been an increasing amount of comfort and credibility in the minds of CMOs, but we need to change the hearts and minds through procurement practices as well. Finally, we need to navigate meeting the “old-school” earned media needs of certain clients with the more “modern” demands of clients who favor an omni-channel approach and understand the value of a creating for them a broader message and brand awareness.

The discussion was an important and timely one, held among influential peers in the industry and around the world by whom I was honored to be surrounded. I look forward to continuing to explore and embrace the changing agency landscape, as Kwittken continues to build our specialist talent practice areas to enhance our client offerings. And meanwhile, I will continue to decompress from over indulging in gelato.

Giuliano Pisapia, The Mayor of Milan will open the ICCO Summit

Giuliano Pisapia, Mayor of Milan, invited by Assorel, will be the first speaker at ‘ICCO Global Summit “Food for thought: a PR perspective”, to be held for the first time in Italy, at Milan, on 8th and 9th October 2015.
ICCO – International Communications Consultancy Organisation, including the PR Associations dedicated solely to Public Relations from 31 countries is represented in Italy by Assorel, which was also one of the founding members in 1990, expressing the first President, Guido Bellodi.
Giuliano Pisapia’s speech will have a special significance as it follows the growing success of EXPO2015; the choice of Milan as venue of EXPO2015 was one of the determining factors for deciding to organize in our city this important international Public Relations conference.
“We are honored of the presence of the Mayor of Milan, who accepted the invitation to open ICCO Summit – said Alessandro Pavesi, Assorel President – he represents an institutional participation which strengthens the presence of the city of Milan within an important international event”.
Milan, october 1st, 2015
ASSOREL is the Italian Association of PR Agencies, founded in 1982, is member of Confindustria Intellect and ICCO – International Communications Consultancy Organisation.

For more information:
Phone ++39 02.70100704 Press Office:

PR As A Force For Global Competitiveness? #agencypublisher

Written by: David Gallagher

So today the World Economic Forum released its 2015-2016 Global Competitiveness Report – billed as the most comprehensive analysis of economic competitiveness among 140 countries and, in my opinion, a pretty good indicator of where it’s good to do business today.

And next week, ICCO will publish in conjunction with the Holmes Report the 2015 Global PR Report – the only analysis of its kind looking at the PR agency business across 30 or so markets.


Well, yes. There’s no relationship at all between the two reports, their design or their conclusions, for that matter.

But there may be a pattern emerging between the two that’s worth considering. All ten of the most competitive economies overall (Switzerland, Singapore, US, Germany, Netherlands, Japan, Hong Kong, Finland, Sweden and the UK) also have well-established and generally growing PR consulting industries.

I’m not suggesting there’s a causal relationship, but it’s not too far of a stretch to imagine economies conducive to competition are also conducive to PR consultancy, and vice versa.

Dubious?  Consider the factors needed for PR consultancy to be effective and valuable (yes, some may be relative):

– freedom of speech and independent media

– democratic institutions of government

– market competition

– digital infrastructure

– engaged citizenry / consumers

– global / international trade

– rule of law

– creative talent

Or looking at the other end of the spectrum, it’s hard to see PR thriving in the least competitive markets.

In any case, it’s food for thought.

I’ll look forward to your views or at next week’s ICCO Global Summit in Milan.

David is president of the International Communications Consultancy Organisation and will chair its annual summit in Milan, 7-9 October in Milan

PR Agencies Are Changing – And Not A Moment Too Soon

Written by: David Gallagher


Senior Partner/CEO Ketchum Europe
President, ICCO

One of the benefits of volunteering time to be active in industry associations like ICCO is the opportunity to learn from colleagues, thought-leaders and even competitors on what’s going on outside your own agency, and in conversations with smart innovators from the world, there’s a consistent theme: change.

Few of the leaders in the PR business I’ve met over the past year doubt that the agency world is undergoing significant transformation, and most would agree these changes are coming just in the nick of time.  Our business is no less vulnerable to the disruption we’ve seen in other industries – music, travel or, of course, the media – and the best agencies have plenty to teach us all when it comes to providing better service, developing stronger talent and building more resilient business models.

A few of the ways they’re changing (and what we can learn):

  1. Media relations – part of what marketers might assign to the ‘earned’ component of their channel mix (paid, earned, shared/social and owned) – is as valuable as ever. It’s a true differentiator against others that might specialise in advertising or website development for example.  But to survive in an integrated world, the strongest agencies are building their own capabilities to amplify content through paid channels, develop social media strategies and produce content that works across all channels.
  1. Leveraged teams – led by senior (and expensive) experts and supported by less experienced (and less expensive) layers of juniors still has a place in procurement-driven engagements. But this place may be shrinking as clients look for new areas of specialist skill, new ways of pricing work and new expectations for the actual results of an agency engagement.  Some agencies are finding success with more ‘liquid’ teams and flexible structures to accommodate changing client expectations and budgets.
  1. The boundaries between ‘independent’ and ‘network’ offerings are blurring. There are advantages to both, but many independent agencies are building their own networks of like-minded consultancies to provide expertise and reach wherever their clients need it, while many network agencies are developing their own ‘boutique’ offers and specialist services to offer widely to clients of all sizes.
  1. The talent coming into PR is stronger than ever – we need to nurture it. Most markets report greater numbers of stronger applicants entering the agency business than ever before – welcome news for business models that rely almost entirely on human brain-power.  Once in, however, great hires are not always easy to hold, with many lured into corporate assignments or other industries.  Great agencies learn how to anticipate and meet the needs of the ‘millennial’ generation for more sustainable, dynamic teams.
  1. Data, analytics and measurement are finally here.  Really. One of the most discussed but least-realised topics in PR has been the need for stronger research and robust measurement.   We have all discussed, agreed and, mostly, ignored.  No longer.  The most innovative agencies see that easily accessible data, simple analytics and a client orientation to proven results can offer a competitive advantage, which they are putting to work.

Another great thing about being active in local, national or international industry organisations like ICCO is the opportunity to meet the people leading the way in these areas, and hearing first hand of their successes in ways you can apply to your agency and your own career.

I know – I have had the pleasure to meet and learn from the best, from my own agency and our fiercest competitors.

And now you can too – at the global ICCO summit in Milan this October. If any of these topics are vexing you and your teams (or if you have successful solution to share), you won’t have a better opportunity to interact with our industry’s leading thinkers and problem solvers than this one-of-a-kind conference.

ICCO Global Summit 2015: Click here to register today!

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 31 countries across the globe in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australasia. Collectively, these associations represent over 2,000 PR firms.

Contact Binta Kristin Hammerich, ICCO Global General Manager


ICCO Global Summit: Message from the President



Dear PR agency leader,

Running a successful PR consultancy is not getting any easier, is it?

Clients want more for less. Good people are hard to find and harder to keep. Competition is relentless, and from unexpected quarters.  And technology continues to disrupt business models for clients and agencies alike.

Which is why we are pleased to present the 2015 ICCO Global Summit, Food For Thought – A PR Perspective, in Milan, Italy, 8-9 October in conjunction with the Milan EXPO 2015. Unique among international conferences in our field, the ICCO Summit is designed by PR agency leaders, for PR agency leaders, with the sole purpose of advancing the world of PR consultancy through education, networking and collaboration.

Whether you run an independent agency you started yourself or have responsibility for part of a large global network, the ICCO Global Summit is the best opportunity on the calendar to exchange ideas, make new contacts and learn from your colleagues from around the rapidly changing nature of PR agency management.  We’ve arranged for top leaders to share their perspectives in an open forum, with a program designed for plenty of networking.  And of course, opportunities to enjoy the splendours of beautiful Milan, a global centre for business, fashion and design, and home of the extraordinary Milan EXPO 2015.

You’ll want to book early to avoid disappointment.

See you in Milan!

David Gallagher, Ketchum CEO & ICCO President






ICCO Global Summit 2015 – tickets now on sale!

Welcome to the 2015 edition of the ICCO Global Summit, a unique event that brings together senior practitioners from public relations consultancies around the world to explore the issues and opportunities affecting our industry.

We are very excited to bring the Summit to Milan, a metropolis known for its global business, fashion and design. The general theme is “Food For Thought”, debating how consultancies and communicators can survive and thrive in a changing world. We aim to unite director-level and above to spark debate, share best practice and strengthen our community.

The Summit will be held in conjunction with the EXPO 2015, and should attract the best and brightest from the global PR community!

More information here:

David Gallagher,

ICCO President

David Gallagher