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Thrive’s founder and Managing Director, Leilani Abels, has been in the PR game for almost twenty years. Today, Thrive remains one of the few 100% Australian, independently owned agencies in the country.

Much has changed during Thrive’s 15 year history. Faxes were commonly used when we first opened our doors!

Today our MD, points to a very bright road ahead for the great PR agencies in Australia.

Leilani shares her predictions on what it will look like in PR Agency land come 2020…and that’s not too far away!

Prediction #1 : Digital Operations will be key to retain staff and clients

Technology will overhaul the way we do business. Our PR consultants will work remotely, work non-traditional hours and they will have more flexibility and be more mobile than ever before. This will attract more working mums, help to retain staff and will provide more opportunities and better working environments. Collaboration tools allowing real-time document sharing and group video conferencing, will differentiate the innovative PR agencies from the traditional operators – those who embrace digital change will be nimble, creative, collaborative and…will win and retain the work.

Great staff will continue to be hard to find but it will become tougher for small operators to compete for good work and afford the many resources needed, so they may stay with the good agencies instead of going out on their own. The PR multi-nationals will continue to be conservative so there’s a real opportunity for innovative mid level PR agencies like Thrive.

Prediction #2 : Social media will sit within PR as it rightly should

There will be less fragmentation with stand alone social media agencies and the management of social channels will be integrated within the PR function. PR people are the creators of the message – stories are brought to life and told in various guises through the PR people so it makes complete sense that engagement via social channels and with social influencers, is managed by PR consultants.

Prediction # 3 : PR agencies will not become Influencer Agencies

The term Influencer Agencies is “codswallop” (as my dear Nan would say). The really good PR agencies who are well connected like Thrive, have always been influencer agents. We are connectors. We know how to get to influential people, how to engage them, how to enthuse them and how to create genuine advocates for the brands and businesses we represent. It comes down to two-way win-win relationships and so you can’t just relabel your agency as an Influencer Agency and think you can start to command the bucks from clients.

Prediction # 4 : Brands will cotton on that Advertising and Media Buying agencies do not make for great PR agencies

The Ad & Media agencies with bolt-on PR services or a one-man internal PR person will be exposed – these creative and buying agencies do not necessarily make for good PR agencies. Their interest, is to keep PR as an afterthought. Some have set up PR arms because they see a shift in dollars as marketers recognise the value in PR. As agencies, our approaches to traditional and new media is also different. Yes, agencies need to collaborate and yes, there is sometimes valid reason to integrate activity and ideas, however PR does not sit under the advertising umbrella, it sits alongside it or without it.

Prediction # 5 : Independent Australian agencies will grow

I believe that big global brands will stop to reconsider whether the multi-national PR agency they retain in the region is the best agency for them in Australia. We are seeing a real swing towards global brands seeking out an independent agency with intimate local knowledge of the market and extensive local media, business, influencer and supplier contacts. Those independents need solid footprints in Sydney and Melbourne.

Independent agencies like Thrive, who’ve stood the test of time in Australia will continue to grow in this market.

& the threats…

Staff seeking international work/travel and inhouse PR roles will continue to strain HR requirements for local agencies however big brands will continue to outsource the best campaign work, and so PR careers in agencies will continue to flourish for many years to come.

There has never been a time when the future of PR has looked so promising. Here’s to 2020!

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