Notes from the City of a Hundred Spires

By James Kelliher, Chief Executive

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting up with the Whiteoaks International Network (WIN), hosted this year by our wonderful partners in the Czech Republic.

The beautiful city of Prague was certainly a suitable setting for this meeting of minds, with more than 60 countries represented at our annual get-together.

Since it was founded in 1998, WIN has provided a real alternative to the one-size-fits-all approach of global agencies. The need for local expertise, cultural sensitivities and know-how is never more apparent than when set at a table with my colleagues from across the globe, discussing the future of international PR and sharing insights from a broad range of cultures.

With so much of our work taking place internationally, WIN is hugely valuable and continues to grow, enabling clients to swiftly and easily plug in international PR support to suit their requirements.

Interestingly, digital PR was high up the agenda. Not so much “should we be doing it” (I think there is consensus on that by now!) but rather its changing focus and role within PR in 2016. For instance, social is now being increasingly used as a tool to recruit and retain talented staff. HR PR, if you will.

Building on this, it was interesting to hear attitudes towards bloggers and influencers on YouTube, particularly the nature of engagement, with the consensus being a mix of paid and un-paid relationships to deliver true returns.

Another key topic of interest was convergence. Specifically, the convergence of owned, earned and paid media. This is an approach recently adopted by City AM, which announced earlier this month it is to allow brands to post directly to its website that appear as articles, rather than advertisements.

The nature of PR is always changing. I always leave WIN meetings heartened that we have the agility, flexibility and experience to exceed our client’s expectations, no matter what, where or when.