One Year Later: A PR Professional's View of the ICCO Report

Feb 21, 2023

With one year under my belt in the industry working for one of the best PR shops in Toronto, I have been able to reflect and analyze the insights provided in The International Communications Consultancy Organization (ICCO) 2022- 2023 Report. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the communications industry, outlining key trends contributing to the PR industry's growth trajectory. As I move into Year 2 of gaining experience and knowledge, the report serves as a benchmark for my own professional journey and provides an invaluable perspective on the industry's overall performance. Here are my top three takeaways.

Communication Is The Key to Success

The ICCO's World Public Relations report attributes the PR industry's recent growth to a shift in company budgets from advertising to more traditional public relations. I always understood the difference and importance of PR; however, gaining first-hand experience as the world rebounded from the pandemic, the need and benefits of PR became so much more apparent. The pandemic showed us that no industry was safe and that corporate communications was a top priority for all organizations. Calls from clients moved from billboard placements to media training, issues management and staff communication overnight.  Blue Door was fortunate to have extensive experience in these areas and accommodated the new needs of our clients when they needed it most.  The ICCO report correctly attributes the growth, but I would also argue that this is not temporary. The need for strategic communications 365 days a year (not only during a pandemic) have been instilled in the c-suite and will continue to be top of mind.

PR 102  

School taught me PR 101, and although the basics are still relevant, a year in the industry has shown me that PR services have evolved and expanded beyond issuing press releases and executing traditional media relations. Truthfully, traditional PR programs also have a gap in how PR supports digital and design campaign components (which is a whole other blog post). 

Today, PR is an all-encompassing service that incorporates stakeholder communications, brand auditing, company positioning, issues management, and partnerships.  As PR has become a necessity, not a nice-to-have, it has found its foothold across all industries and is present in everything from telecommunications to construction projects.  `

Correctly, the ICCO's 2022-2023 World PR Report credits diversifying PR into other markets as another reason for the industry's success. I see this at Blue Door every day, with our services being requested by healthcare companies, policing services, art galleries, large developers, and not-for-profit organizations.  For example, Blue Door has a roster this year that includes a wide variety of clients, including Ripley’s Aquarium, Bike Share Toronto, Longo’s, and a major financial institution. That is diversity.  

Results: Quality Over Quantity

This year has taught me the significance of quality over quantity. To demonstrate the effectiveness and importance of PR, agencies must deliver relevant services and results that support a client's goals and objectives. We can’t “swing for the fences” and hope to hit a home run. Blue Door recognized this early, and its roots began with the notion that we must solve our clients' problems with strategy, insights, professionalism and sophistication. No swing and pray approach here. 

The ICCO report highlights the emphasis of clients' needs, from improving reputation, generating sales, and building a purpose-led brand. This is much different than reporting on impressions and bottom-feeder metrics. Now, PR has evolved, becoming responsible for even the tallest orders from our clients, including developing  ESG initiatives or diversity approaches for an organization.  We can’t simply “develop” them; we have to have a result-oriented framework to tell a client: What did we do, why did we do it, what did it achieve today, what will it achieve tomorrow, and how does this bring the client closer to its organizational goals.

 We don't belong at the table if we can’t speak that language.

Our key learnings and takeaways from the International Communications Consultancy Organization’s 2022–2023 World PR Report allow us to assess this year's industry progress and learn and adjust to improve our approach as we continue into this new year. Let us know if you will be doing the same. 

Anastasia Zafiriadis


Reference: International Communications Consultancy Organization (ICCO),2022–2023 World PR Report 

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