- 31 Mai 2015 |
- Dana Oancea
PR Romania has invited John Saunders, Regional President for Europe, Middle East and Africa at FleishmanHillard, to talk about how innovation can transform public relations. We hear quite often that PR agencies are able to create great ideas, but clients prefer proven solutions leading to safe results. Highly innovative or disruptive ideas are viewed sometimes with suspicion.
The answer is to provide evidence based solutions, believes the representative of FleishmanHilllard. Often the so called highly innovative ideas are just whacky and a personal opinion. Clients are less and less likely to buy something that is not evidence based in the future. John has recently visited Bucharest to celebrate the 2activePR's 15th anniversary, the exclusive affiliate of FleishmanHillard in Romania.
In the last few years, agency leaders seemed to focus mostly on protecting their own bottom line. Should we expect more time and space for thought, stimulus and inspiration in the next years?
Clearly last six or seven years have been difficult for the economies of most countries so a certain amount of looking at cost is only natural. That said, there is a huge amount of innovation and change going on in our industry so that we can be even more relevant in the future. At FleishmanHilllard we are conducting more training, more knowledge sharing sessions than ever in 2015. So, plenty of perspiration but much inspiration too!
Today’s agencies require a far broader range of skills and experience than ever before – particularly in the creative and digital areas. It’s not always easy, particularly for smaller agencies in Eastern Europe, to make these investments ahead of client demand. How could smaller businesses overcome this ‘wait and see’ approach?
It's a good question. What we did back in 2008 when we truly embraced digital is that we brought in new people with those skills but we also set out to retrain the rest of us. In Romania, I know there is great young talent looking for a break and get a foot in the door - the trick is to find individuals who marry with your culture. At the same time, those of us who are in the business a long time need to change.
We hear quite often that PR agencies are able to create great ideas, but clients prefer proven solutions leading to safe results. Highly innovative or disruptive ideas are viewed sometimes with suspicion. Which markets in EMEA region are from your experience more open to innovative approaches?
Rather than give a specific country or region, I think the issue arises everywhere.
The answer is to provide evidence based solutions - we need to partner with good research and analytics firms if those specialisms do not exist in house. Often the so called highly innovative ideas are just whacky and a personal opinion. Clients are less and less likely to buy something that is not evidence based in the future.
There are agencies that are still relying on old metrics, rooted solely in media performance. How could the industry move forward and start delivering results that even the CFO can love?
There is a huge amount of work going on around the whole subject of measurement in our industry and this is well documented and widely available. But I hope the answer above addresses your question.
The PR industry is concerned about its ability to bring research and insight into its offering, particularly in terms of getting it funded by clients. What are your views on this?
I agree that clients are often reluctant to fund it. However, in Ireland for example - a relatively small market we have partnered with a brilliant insights firm. It is cost effective and reaps a rich return.
Clients in Romania are continuing to exert pressure on margins. Do you think the industry needs to develop new pricing and fee models that allow more space and time for innovation?
This is a real chicken and egg question. The more we allow ourselves be put in the commodity box then the more it will happen. Certain services we have traditionally offered are becoming increasingly commoditised and this will be an ongoing trend. However, clients are always prepared to pay for truly value added solutions. To provide these, you have got to hire the really talented people. No matter how the world changes, the firm's with the best people who are on their game, working hard and providing solutions will win out.
John Saunders is Regional President for Europe, Middle East and Africa at FleishmanHillard
John Saunders was appointed FleishmanHillard’s Regional President for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) in 2011 and has overall responsibility for the firm’s operations in Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Dublin, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, Milan, Moscow, Munich, Paris, Prague, Saudi Arabia, Warsaw, UAE and UK.
Before assuming his current position, he was Managing Director of FleishmanHillard Saunders. He founded the business in 1990 and grew it into Ireland’s largest public relations consultancy. John is a member of a range of professional bodies and is regularly invited to share a perspective on communications-related topics. Countries where he has undertaken speaking engagements include Austria, Germany, Iceland, India, Iran, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United States. In 2007, he was awarded Honorary Life Membership of the Public Relations Institute of Ireland. He was President of ICCO (The International Communications Consultancy Organisation) – the global representative body for the PR industry, from 2005 - 2007. In 2011 he became the 15th inductee in to the ICCO Hall of Fame. He has also been a member of the Europe and Central Asia Committee at the World Economic Forum and is a member of the Circle of European Communicators. John is an Irish national and lives between Dublin and London.
2activePR is a Romanian communication agency founded in 2000 and has been a FleishmanHillard’s affiliate in Romania since 2009.
The agency offers consultancy services related to corporate & marketing communication, crisis management, information and education public campaigns, CSR platforms and projects, event management and marketing, developing a digital expertize as well.
2activePR current portfolio includes powerful international and local brands like: COTY, Procter & Gamble, Lenovo, Oracle, Huawei, Saint Gobain, Philips, Lockheed Martin, Bergenbier, Viacom, Monsanto, HelpNet, Bijuteria Teilor, Lierac, Foltene.
Interview by Dana Oancea. Copyright PR Romania.