Independent Consultants Share Insights on the Future of the Industry

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Independent Consultants Share Insights on the Future of the Industry

Aug 2, 2016 | Living the Life

Independent Consultants Share Insights on the Future of the Industry

Aug 2, 2016 | Living the Life

In the communications industry, we read and hear about trends all the time. We are an industry that measures, predicts and attempts to stay ahead of the next big thing. These insights often emanate from think tanks, industry groups or large brands, but they are not the only source of information. Independent communication consultants are a savvy, diverse group and have a unique perspective on what the future holds.  They have the benefit of working closely with clients, often becoming like an extension of internal teams, across a wide range of industries.  So, when Greg Brooks kicked off a discussion in the Solo PR Pro Member community, we asked members if we could share the answers publicly so that others could benefit from their wisdom.

What do independent practitioners believe are the biggest trends driving opportunity in our line of work for the next year or beyond? Below are the Top 5 themes that emerged from this thoughtful discussion along with insights from independent communications pros.

Trend 1: Inside Out Communications

Makasha Dorsey: From what I am seeing,  I'd say internal communications processes. With social, businesses got away from making sure they had good processes in place in favor of customer service. The problem is in order to provide quality customer service you must deliver on what you promised. Bad internal practices and failures will screw up all your public relations efforts.

Maura Campbell: People are overwhelmed and with all the channels inside and outside of organizations competing for attention, if you can help solve a problem or find clarity in the noise, you can not only add value you can charge a premium for it. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Too many companies/organizations are still running on email and that is both a problem and an opportunity. I tell people the most effective communications are always inside out. Media relations is a conundrum. The changes to and challenges in journalism continue — how to best leverage that? Not sure. I just know that the same old, same old is not cutting it.

Trend 2: It's a Great Time to Be Solo!

Alison Kenney: The labor market is very tight – good news for us contractors but also a real pain point for employers that are growing and need to hire. Great time for employer branding, recruitment marketing and other marketing/HR mashup services.

Arik Hanson: Added competition as a lot of people go solo. I think this favors those who have been at it longer than others. They have more momentum. They can ride out hard times. You're seeing a big influx now, but that may look a lot different in a few years when a lot of those folks have to find something else.

Trend 3: Be Fast on Your Feet

Diane K. Rose: Agility. Change seems non-stop, and businesses value agility and the ability to change directions almost instantaneously. Those of us in the PR and marketing fields need to remain flexible and be willing to change directions (and scope of work) without much warning. I believe that solo practitioners are in a perfect position to accommodate this need for agility, as we have nobody or few people to whom we answer. The ability to go with the flow is value for our business clients.

Trend 4: Be Great at Solving a Problem

Maria Coppola Cummins: I do think specialists are back in versus those who say they do media, internal, crisis, marketing, advertising, social media, jack of all trades. Do one thing and be the best at it.

Greg Brooks: People seem happy to pay a premium for a direct, simple solution to a real problem. You've seen it in the greater acceptance of solos and microshops as a “real” solution for enterprise-scale clients, and I've also seen increased interest in billing models that get away from time-and-materials billing. It's not that clients are getting cheaper — it's that they're demanding visible value and a risk share if the value doesn't materialize.

Trend 5: Focus on your Clients

Cherie Gary: We are in a service business … whatever industry or niche you focus on … think beyond the billable hour and more about making your clients successful … and eventually what goes around, comes around.

How do these insights compare to what you are seeing? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 photo credit: Badwater Basin via photopin (license)

Written By Karen Swim
Karen Swim is the President of Solo PR and Founder of public relations agency, Words For Hire.