Inside the Profession

Gigging, Measurement and Accelerated Integration: A 2018 Outlook

This month, PRsay will feature posts by a variety of thought leaders on the year ahead for communicators and the PR profession. A shorter version of this response first appeared in the January issue of Strategies & Tactics.

If you think 2017 was a year of change in public relations, then brace yourself for 2018.

We’re in the midst of a time of massive disruption in our profession, and it’s shifting the fundamentals — the structure of agencies and teams, the workings of agency-client partnerships and the ways we employ and deploy talent.

I expect we’ll see the following in 2018:

  • Integration acceleration: It’s now a must that strategic planning, creative, analytics and digital are fully integrated in client teams. And we’re moving on to deeper integration. At Omnicom PR Group, we’re custom-building teams and engaging the best talent for the business, regardless of agency. And we’re part of fully integrated teams across disciplines — public relations, advertising, shopper marketing, direct — resulting in a more consistent customer journey and improved ROI.
  • Generalists on the outs: If you’re a PR generalist in today’s integrated world, then your days may be numbered. Replacing you is the in-demand specialist — the creative, the strategic planner, the content specialist, the business strategist. This shift will accelerate in 2018.
  • PR goes gig: LinkedIn predicts that by the year 2020, 43 percent of the U.S. workforce will be made of workers who freelance. This trend took off in 2017, and will continue in 2018. For talent, gigging means getting to work on whatever you want, whenever you want. For agencies and companies, this model allows them to flex their workforce in response to fast-changing needs. The gig economy presents an opportunity for companies to bring in talent and modernize models to work more efficiently.
  • Measure and win: We’re under more pressure to prove PR’s value through measurement. This will only intensify in 2018; I predict that whoever masters measurement, wins.

Karen van Bergen is CEO, Omnicom Public Relations Group, New York

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Karen van Bergen


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