Blog post -
By shifting from "why” to “who” PR gets comfortable being uncomfortable
Written by: Massimo Moriconi, General Manager & Partner at FleishmanHillard Italy
Extracted from the 2022-2023 ICCO World PR Report - Download the full report here.
Since 2020, the PR sector has learnt to live with uncertainties those firstly brought by the pandemic and then by factors such as hyperinflation, political instability, and the war in Ukraine with subsequent humanitarian and energy crisis. Despite this scenario and the fears of a big recession on the way, in 2022 public relations and communications consulting business has been solid and growing from high single digit to double digit in many European markets, with ESG comms (47%) and Strategic Consulting (39%) ranking in-most comms leaders’ top 3 growth areas.
One reason for this is the evolution of the expected role PR should play in such a tragic and uncomfortable situations: we are often called in to help companies, brands, institutions, and NGOs communicate “who” they are to key internal and external stakeholders. The shift in expectation is for PR to find the answers not for “why does this company exist?” but instead a “who is this company” which implies an indissoluble link among commitments, concrete actions and communications.
In this sense, the relationship between c-suite and communicators has never been so tight opening up opportunities especially in Healthcare (55%), Technology (49%) and Financial Services (35%). The “who” journey also implies a clear definition of corporate culture, a delicate and highly valuable aspect that now lives in hybrid formats presenting threats/opportunities and in which our consultancy plays a crucial role.
In recent years, the research of the “who” has also occurred for ICCO in Europe. Thanks to our members and working groups we succeeded in bringing to life concrete initiatives defining our Organization such as the campaign created with EMA (European Medicines Agency) about responsible communications on Covid-19 vaccines, the new CMS certification (Consultancy Management Standard) allowing our member agencies improving their governance up to the Ukraine Communications Support Network (UCSN) in support of Ukrainian colleagues.
To tackle these challenges, the paper calls for an alliance across industries, including journalism, fact-checking, advertising, tech, and
policymakers to discuss legislative and educational solutions.
We want to be a constructive force enabling the collective design of a better information society where ethics, international high standards and quality of our work are our biggest assets allowing us to feel comfortable being uncomfortable. Today and tomorrow, despite everything.
For additional data on the state of PR and Communications and expectations for the future of the industry in Europe and other parts of the world, download your copy of the ICCO World PR Report here.