As we begin to move through the phases of the Covid-19 recovery strategy businesses are beginning to come out of hibernation, look to the future and explore the challenges presented by going back to work.

On Thursday 4th June, creative communications group DRPG brought together special guests from publications and associations representing events, comms and digital for a roundtable discussion and temperature check of the various sectors. The Big Debate, which was broadcast through their bespoke portal and included notable names from each sector, addressed issues such as the future of communications, how sectors and industries are persevering, and what support is available amidst the disruption as businesses re-evaluate their strategies and move forward to adapting to the new norm.

The panel represented many of the channels which make up the internal and external communication sector, from PR to live events, film and video to digital solutions. The breadth of expertise on the panel meant a balanced overview of the challenges of the last 10 weeks, and more importantly the opportunities for the future.

The panel included:

Caroline Clift, Editor at Stand Out magazine

Claire Fennelow, Executive Director at EVCOM

Martin Fullard, Editor at Conference News

Holly Hall, MD at BIMA

Simon Hughes, Vice Chair at BVEP

Francis Ingham, Director General at PRCA

Andrew Thomas, Publishing Editor at Communicate magazine

The overriding sentiment from across the board is that the UK creative service industry are particularly good at adapting, changing business models and moving forward in times of crisis. This has been achieved through effective collaboration between sectors, associations, and businesses.

Francis Ingham, Director General at PRCA commented, “While the PR industry is facing severe challenges the crisis has accelerated several trends benefitting the industry such as the rise of digital. It’s also highlighted brand reputation. Some companies have handled this crisis well, others have not but at its heart it has brought to the fore the realisation that a company’s reputation is its most valuable asset. There will be some upsides in the realisation that we can work from home effectively and efficiently. The industry has had a shock and is now changing its model and looking to the recovery phase and there will be one. There is no doubt the industry will survive and prosper in the future.”

Key Takeaways:

  • While the PR industry is facing severe challenges, the crisis has accelerated some positive trends benefitting the industry: the rise of digital, the highlighting of brand reputation as most valuable asset and facilitating working from home.
  • Collaboration has come to the fore: trade bodies and associations have done great work encouraging collaboration between businesses and subsectors and supporting each other, putting the needs and interests of their people first. Sharing venues, collaborating on events and sharing ideas and experiences.
  • Mentoring and sharing workforce and capacity throughout the comms industry has been indispensable and this shouldn’t stop once this crisis is over. This is a chance to improve the platforms to help the collaboration to continue.
  • A collaboration between comms and events will be vital as live events begin to start back up. Events will require extensive PR and marketing campaigns to consistently create reassurance within the public, accompanied by some form of certification of safety levels.
  • Confidence is low and events are on the backburner until 2021. Businesses still need to communicate so this service sits with comms and digital.

Dale Parmenter, CEO at DRPG commented after the broadcast, “While the outlook may look bleak for certain sectors of our industry, there is most certainly grounds for optimism. Gathering experts from each field including those from both press and associations has been a fantastic chance to share an overview of the challenges faced but most importantly to discuss the learnings that have resulted from this time of crisis.

As has been expressed throughout the debate, it is the collaboration within our industry that is paramount to its survival. All parties are equally committed to seeing the industry successfully weather this storm, and the first step to achieving this is open and honest communication. We must continue to work together and support each other to see our industry flourish once again.”


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