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.

International judging panel announced for ICCO Global Awards

ICCO is proud to announce the judges for the ICCO Global Awards 2016; the global showcase for the most effective PR from the world’s most talented practitioners.

The awards are the only internationally recognised awards programme purely based on effectiveness, measurement, results and impact for the global PR industry, and supported by PR trade associations representing 48 countries worldwide.

Entries are judged by an elite international panel of top PR practitioners who will consider excellence and effectiveness of PR work submitted from across the world.

David Gallagher, co-President of the jury said: “Much of the discussion in PR about earned, paid or owned media, or the changing nature of social media, or the importance of creative storytelling, or any of the other myriad topics we discuss, are largely academic. The thing that matters: results. What happened as a result of our activity in terms of behaviour, attitude or ideas? That’s what the ICCO awards emphasize – and that’s what makes them unique.”


ICCO Global Awards International Jury:

Co-President: Renee Wilson, President, PR Council (USA)

Co-President: David Gallagher, President, Growth and Development, International, Omnicom Public Relations Group (Global)

Poli Stuart-Lacey, Head of Communications, UK Government (UK)

Michael Schröder, Global President, IPREX (Global)

Michael Frohlich, CEO, EMEA, Ogilvy Public Relations (EMEA)

Victoria Wagner, CEO, Ketchum Germany (Germany)

Denise Kaufmann, CEO, Ketchum London (UK)

Lucio Bergamaschi, Director General, Below Communications and Media Relations (Italy)

Jean-Leopold Schuybroek, Chairman, Interel Belgium (Belgium)

Andrey Barannikov, CEO, SPN Communications (Russia)

John Ehiguese, Founder & CEO, Mediacraft Associates (Nigeria)

Dimitris Roulias, CEO, Out of the Box PR (Greece)

Sharon Murphy, Deputy CEO, Wilson Hartnell (Ireland)

Jürgen Gangoly, Managing Partner, The Skills Group (Austria)

Emine Cubukcu, Managing Director, Ogilvy Public Relations Istanbul (Turkey)

Kresten Schultz Jorgensen, Managing Partner, LEAD Agency (Denmark)

Bridget von Holdt, Executive Director, Glasshouse Communication Management (South Africa)

Grzegorz Szczepanski, CEO, Hill+Knowlton Strategies Poland (Poland)

Andras Sztaniszlav, Senior Consultant & Communications Strategist, PersonaR (Hungary)

Jelena Sarenac, Director of Corporate Communications, Henkel (Serbia)

Michaela Benedigova, Director and Partner, SEESAME Communication Experts, (Slovakia)

Katya Dimitrova, Managing Partner, Interpartners (Bulgaria)

Stian Lyberg, Consultant & Founder Partner, PR-operatørene (Norway)

Marina Haluzan, Information and PR Adviser, Croatia Control (Croatia)

Tatevik Pirumyan, Founder, Managing Director, Communication Management Group (Armenia)

Sari-Liia Tonttila, Managing Director, Ahjo Communications (Finland)

Gary Muddyman, Managing Director and CEO, Conversis (UK)

Aaron Kwittken, CEO, Kwittken Communications (USA)

Sconaid McGeachin, President & CEO, Africa, Middle East & Turkey, Hill+Knowlton Strategies (MENA)

Tanya Hughes, President, SERMO Communications (Global)

Isabelle Wolf, CEO & Founder, Kingcom (France)

Loretta Ahmed, CEO Middle East, Turkey & Africa, Grayling (MENA)

Barry Leggetter, CEO, AMEC (Global)

George McGregor, Managing Partner, Interel UK (UK)

Aye Verckens, Managing Director, Recognition PR (Australia)

Rakesh Thukral, Managing Director, Edelman India (India)



Final entry deadline: 02 November 2016

Shortlist Announced: 17 November 2016

Awards Night (St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London): 01 December 2016


For more information on entries the awards or attending the awards night, visit

PR In Africa: Changing The Narrative


Article by Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, President of the African Public Relations Association (APRA)


Many years ago, The Economist magazine carried a cover story describing Africa as a ‘hopeless continent’. Several years later, The Economist reversed itself by coming out with another cover titled ‘ Rising Africa’. There lies the paradox that is Africa- it’s in its narrative! Undisputedly the next frontier in global development, Africa has witnessed impressive growth from foreign direct investment compared to other parts of the world. The disadvantage of our infrastructure deficit has resulted in massive funds injection, which presents significant opportunities for public relations practitioners on the continent.

The origins of Public Relations practice in Africa are somewhat hazy. What is clear though, is that  a substantial dose of public relations was used in Africa during the Second World War not just to encourage Africans to enlist in the home armies of their various colonial masters, but also to keep the war propaganda machine going on the continent. During periods of colonial rule, European trading companies like the United African Company (UAC) engaged public relations, perhaps for the very first time, in the area of private sector business. Many government organisations and agencies soon caught on and appointed PR executives. The first set of PR professionals were mostly media and Information Officers of government organisations.

The 1960’s and 70’s were characterised by struggles for, and the attainment of political independence. The effect was the entrenchment of one form of democratic rule or the other across the continent. In these nascent democracies public communication, especially public relations, was an imperative but this new found opportunity was rather short-lived as many African nations soon fell under the jackboot of military coups. A failure of public relations perhaps? Whatever the reason, military takeovers severely stunted the growth and development of public relations practice. Happily, the late 1980’s and 90’s brought about a resurgence of democratic rule in Africa, with an attendant rise in the engagement of public relations.

PR in Africa had hitherto been largely media-centric because the pioneers of the profession were journalists and broadcasters. But over time, its further application in solving marketing and brand challenges, has led to the deepening of the profession across board. Such tools include Strategy, Corporate Social Responsibility, content development & management, reputation management  and creativity.

Key PR practice centres on the continent are South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt, with South Africa taking the lead. These countries are located in southern, eastern, western and northern Africa respectively.  South Africa’s leading role is understandable considering that most public relations networks and global corporate giants have headquartered their African operations in South Africa. The biggest consumers of public relations are telecommunications companies, with banks, retailers, the entertainment industry and IT also gaining a fair share of the market. Naturally, PR consulting practices have grown over the years in line with demand. However, with the exception of South Africa, most practices have remained sole proprietorships or partnerships.

As public relations has developed on the continent, so also has the establishment and operations of professional public relations associations. The first association was founded in 1956 in South Africa followed by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations  in 1963.  The Public Relations Society of Kenya was inaugurated in 1971. The umbrella body for public relations associations- the Federation of African Public Relations Associations, was established in 1975 with the sole mandate of developing PR as a tool for selling Africa’s positive image. FAPRA became APRA in 2008 and began to admit individual members in addition to national associations.

In spite of the considerable gains, there is still a lot of ground to cover. For instance the lack of clarity about the value that public relations brings to the table remains an issue. Perhaps because its value is difficult to measure, lack of appreciation for the practice of PR as a profession in its own right is also an issue. Measurement and evaluation continue to be a challenge, as is the dearth of data across the continent. PR also suffers from the intrusion of its twin cousin-professions- journalism and advertising. Today, many markets see PR as little more than an extension of journalism, thus denying PR of its much needed professional and financial regard.

If the narrative must change, it must change from within so that we can take advantage of the significant opportunities that ‘Rising Africa’ presents. Whether the conversation is about the continent or the practice, there is a glaring need to change the narrative.

Yomi Badejo-Okusanya is the current President of the African Public Relations Association (APRA), a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations and Chief Executive of CMC Connect Burston Marsteller, Lagos, Nigeria.

Raise Your Hand! PR at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity

Written by Renee Wilson, President, PR Council


The marketplace is quickly transforming. That is evident. The older, more traditional forms of communications are no longer moving the needle as they once did. However, one thing is clear:  the methods, strategies and activity that have PR-thinking at the core are where the action is. It is my prediction that this year at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, we will see the majority of winners from a host of categories have PR-thinking at the core of the idea. And when attendees ask why the program was so successful, raise your hand and proudly say it was “PR-thinking that powered the strategy and the creative idea.”

This will be my sixth year going to the Festival, and I’m just as excited as ever. Nowhere else in the world can you have a professional experience that is so awe-inspiring, educational and enjoyable all in one place. I’ve had the good fortune of serving on two PR juries, once as the PR jury chair, and this year, along with two of my PR Council Members, I’ll be serving as a PR Mentor in the Cannes Young Lions Marketers Academy, along with A.G. Bevilaqua of M Booth and Ron D’Innocenzo of Golin. It’s a great opportunity to help teach and inspire about the power of PR-thinking as it’s important to help marketers of all ages understand more about the types of work we do. It’s not PR versus advertising. It’s PR and advertising, and media, and in-store, online etc.

What do I mean when I say PR-thinking? It’s strategies and ideas that involve working with influencers, third parties, experiential, content and stakeholder relationships for starters. You will find it in the winning Cannes entries.

However, if you are still on the fence as to whether or not to attend the Festival, or more importantly to care, here are three reasons:

1. Cannes Festival showcases creativity at its best. There is no other festival that brings together the greatest creative minds in the global marketing communications industry and gives you access to the best and brightest in integrated communications. Think of it like the Olympics of Marketing. We can all learn from the powerful work.

2. Young Lions Competition. For only the third time, PR is included as a category in this competition. We are proudly sending Team USA and I’m sure other regions are putting forth their bright young talent too. These future leaders definitely have a thing or two to teach us about the industry.

3. ICCO House of PR. For the second year in a row, ICCO will be hosting the House of PR. This is a great meeting place for PR professionals to gather to glean insights from the juries, points of view from thought leaders, and network with colleagues from different agencies and companies from around the world. It can’t be missed!

I hope to see you at the Cannes festival, where we can push forward the power of PR-thinking from around the world, inspire others, and be inspired!


For more information about the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity visit:

12 International PR Developments To Watch

Written by: David Gallagher


Senior Partner/CEO Ketchum Europe
President, ICCO

Sometime over the past decade, the PR agency business evolved from ‘burgeoning’ to ‘nearly established’ (my benchmarks) as a global industry, with national trade associations representing thousands of agencies operating around the world.

There remain zones of uncharted geography, and much to do to better link the established markets (one of the aims of ICCO, which I have the privilege of chairing) but there’s little doubt that the PR agency business has gone viral, from Azerbaijan to Zagreb.

As more consultancies enter the global market directly, or indirectly as their home markets are drawn into international competition, it’s worth looking at some of the developments that will shape the industry over the next five to 10 years.

Here’s a quick run-down of a dozen trends I’m keeping an eye on – all based more on observation than analysis, so feel free to quibble, reject or endorse:

  1. Consolidation is king. Agencies of all sizes, independent or publicly held, will come together in one fashion or another to better serve clients and reduce overheads.
  2. Demand for fluid talent will topple the pyramid. The need for highly specialist skills will alter the ‘pyramid of experience’ model that has governed our business for so long, with senior professionals supported by experienced managers and just-starting-out juniors.
  3. It will also alter the way in which new talent joins agencies. New partnerships will emerge between agencies and universities, organized pools of freelance specialists and government employment / apprenticeship programs to supply the demand for niche expertise.
  4. Native advertising will feed the media beast.   The lines between ‘true’ editorial or journalistic content will continue to blur with promotional content as media titles embrace an irresistibly lucrative revenue stream.
  5. Structured journalism may save the day. OK, save the day might be extreme, but as ‘classic’ journalism evolves to digital-friendly format, we may see ways to preserve the objective aims of news reporting with the demands of digital advertisers and social media consumers.
  6. English will remain the lingua francafor business and international PR. As much influence as Mandarin has in the world overall, I don’t see it overtaking English anytime soon in boardrooms outside of China.
  7. Translation software will be disruptive. Technology will diminish the importance of the language in which content is created.
  8. Africa will boom. Expect mergers and acquisitions throughout sub-Saharan African to outpace those in Europe and Asia.
  9. Hub-and-spoke network models will be enhanced – or replaced. Old international models, based on a ‘railway view’ of the world with regional hubs serving surrounding geographic markets with content and creative concepts for local activation will find far greater efficiencies by streamlining the responsibilities of the lead and implementation agencies. Or, they will be replaced altogether by models built to accommodate markets by their level of development, language or regulations – traits other than geographic proximity, in other words.
  10. Measurement may finally find its footing, but monitoring could be the greater market opportunity. Agencies will continue to progress in the effort to fund and demonstrate the impact of successful PR programs, and some may succeed in finding clients who’ll help pay for the confirmation. But real-time, fully customized global media monitoring could find a paying customer pool more quickly.
  11. Integration is the norm. ‘Traditional’ PR agencies that focus on earned media output are rapidly giving way to those capable of offering services across all channels, or partnering with others that complement the earned offer. This will continue to challenge trade associations, trade media and awards competitions trying to determine what’s PR and what’s something else.
  12. A new kind of agency leader is emerging. Most of us in senior positions got here by surviving in a system that hasn’t changed in decades and, let’s be honest, by being in proximity to global centres like New York and London. As our workforces evolve and become more fluid and transitory, we’ll see global leaders popping up from all over the place. Which is a good thing.

Interested in these or related topics? You might seriously consider attending the ICCO Global PR Summit in Milan this October. Some of the best thinkers in the world will be discussing exactly these and many other ideas that will make PR continue to thrive as powerful tool and resource for business, government and civil society.


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