Insights into Tomorrow’s Marketing Organizations: The Interplay of Brands and Agencies


As the marketing discipline becomes more fragmented, marketing agencies and internal departments need to take a collaborative approach to achieve success and longevity. Specialists will have a key role working with marketing teams to provide strategic communications counsel for brands who truly understand what they’re all about and who their audiences are, as discussed by three key communications leaders at our recent Sydney meetup.

‘The Marketing Organisation of the Future’ was the hot topic for our senior panel, who addressed the questions: What is changing and is not changing in marketing? What are the characteristics and capabilities of marketing organizations of the future? What can we be doing now to become the successful marketing organization of tomorrow?

Below are the key insights shared by each panellist on shaping the marketing department and agency of the future.

Pru Quinlan, CEO, Einsteinz Communications

  • We will see a more collaborative approach with many agencies coming together.
  • Agencies need to think about how they interact with marketers and employees.
  • The agency of the future will have to be more agile than it is now – navigate 1-to-1 marketing and make quick decisions based on technology and consumer behavior.
  • It’s challenging for brands to invest in long form content … the need is for ‘snackable’ content to be distributed in the right way to reach target audiences.
  • Brands should own the content, not the agency.
  • Agencies need to show and lead by example when it comes to budgets and the value of what we do.
  • Brands need to control themselves but also need to reflect on the workforce of today, including freelancers and contractors; there are many talented individuals who don’t fit in a particular hole but have a role to play within a company, or for a brand.
  • There will be more roles for individuals, on their own or as collectives, to work with brands, work magic, then maybe even leave.
  • Advice: focus on what audiences really want and what your brand means for them … And brands have to open minds to new approaches and play differently to speak to our market.

Ben Shipley, Managing Director, Spectrum Group

  • The market has been product-centric, not audience-centric, but we will move back to being people-centric.
  • Greater focus on useful and quality content designed for niche audiences, but also need to also understand how the content will reach them.
  • Need to aggregate audiences and keep people engaged.
  • Agencies have a role in giving brands an objective viewpoint.
  • Whitepapers are no longer effective and could work better as a series of shorter pieces of content.
  • Building owned homes for content has an important impact on search. There is a split in media: live event content (news) versus distributed evergreen content (broadsheet).
  • Key piece of advice is to be a singular brand – know what you are and why – and consider the different messaging required for different audience segments.

Tony Faure, Chairman, Junkee Media, Stackla, Pollenizer

  • Key piece of advice is to use data to fully understand your customer and be very clear about your point of difference.
  • Brand is going to be even more massive and go back to ‘difficult marketing’.
  • Aggregation of services will be done by technology.
  • We are heading into an era of specialists, not generalists.
  • We will see companies and brands taking back ownership of marketing, which has largely been ceded to agencies.
  • Journalists are not always capable of realizing not everything they write is interesting, so they may not be the best people to produce content.
  • Long-form content can be more difficult to execute … a one-minute video for Facebook is cheaper, measured instantly, and easier to do.
  • Key elements to consider are: Who is the customer? Why is my brand different from everyone else’s?
  • The customer and brand piece needs to be owned by the brand.
  • Less of a believer in big aggregated agencies.
  • The creative agency has more relevance now.
  • There is an increase in big brands wanting specialists.
  • It’s about identifying niche communities within your brand community and understanding the nuances of how to best engage with them.
  • Australian agency versus global marketing agency: main issues are scale; regional Australian clients are less likely to take risks because they’re the brand channel for our market.

Please let us know your thoughts on any of the points raised, or if you have comments to add to the discussion on the marketing organization of the future.

Join our Future of PR – Sydney Meetup Group here and find out when our next meetup will be held.

Leaders of the Future:  Collaborative, High EQ and Data-Driven


There’s no denying the influence of technology on communication practices, however it is with the value of human experience, honed gut instinct and emotional intelligence that PR leaders of the future will shape the industry.

Our first Creating the Future of PR Meetup in Sydney recently brought together a panel of industry leaders with varied backgrounds to discuss the skills, capabilities and qualities required of our future communications leaders, and how best to nurture their talents.

All panelists agreed our future leaders must be more flexible in their thinking, comfortable with being data-driven and working with people across the broader business, not just within the communications function. The technology plus human relationship is critical where tech will be led by human intuition.

Below are key discussion points shared by our panelists during the event.

Caspian Smith, Director Brand & Communications, IBM Asia Pacific


  • Greater requirement for transparency in communication.
  • Communication leaders as custodians of the brands they manage – it’s their job to help employees understand what the brand stands for; they will be the voice of the brand and shape interactions.
  • We will work with people across the business and become adept at working in multi-disciplinary teams, e.g. IT, product developers, psychologists, software engineers etc.
  • Cognitive machine learning is the future and something IBM is currently working on with IBM’s Watson Technology: it will allow us to learn at great scale. Communications teams will help guide the creation of tech for one-to-one communication at mass scale. We will teach the technology and the technology will teach employees with consistent, up-to-date and ‘on-brand’ information.

Kieran Moore, CEO, Ogilvy PR Australia, Regional Talent Director, EXCO member, STW Group Australia, Board Member, Ogilvy PR

  • As communications leaders we need a better understanding of data, insights, strategy, planning, and digital technology via a team of specialists with each of these skills. A collaborative approach is essential and the days of marketing disciplines fighting each other are gone; whoever gets the jump on paid and social will do well.
  • We need to understand the value of paid and search to know where people go to look for content. People aren’t going to brand websites for information anymore. PR has been great at creating content but if we don’t know where to distribute this content then no-one will see what we create.
  • We need really good EQ (Emotional Quotient) to nurture teams and future leaders. One of the best things about the role of communications in this digital era is the role of people in decision-making, relationship building and the communication process. Even if you have the best tech in the world you still need a human touch.
  • Future leaders will need to understand changing demographics and the nature of work, value employees as influencers, be more transparent and understand that loyalty to consumer brands is not there anymore.

Kim McKay, director and founder, Klick Communications

  • Leadership qualities aren’t going to change. Leaders will still need to be visionary and see what’s coming while being inspiring enough to take people along with them.
  • We need to think about the future of work and what that looks like, working with freelancers and remote staff, and we need to be able to lead and motivate geographically dispersed teams. We need to get people inducted and up-to-speed on the business and brands they’re working on quickly to best manage agency employee turnover.
  • SEO and social media as industries “should not have happened on our watch … We’ve always been in control of the words, where they go and how they’re applied” so to miss these are bad for PR. PR should have gotten in early with social and claimed it early but I think we’ve learned from this as an industry and now we’re focused on the what’s next and what our role will be.

Professor Jim Macnamara, Associate Dean UTS was unable to attend but contributed some key thoughts as below:

  • Get out of silos and ghettos and work collaboratively.
  • A more strategic focus, and evidence-based and data-driven communication is needed.
  • We will see a move towards greater social conscience.

Audience Discussion

Here are some comments from the audience shared via Twitter on the night.

Creating the Future of PR Meetup – Singapore March 23, 2016


I will be in Singapore briefly on March 23, 2016, so am taking the opportunity to meet with local PR professionals interested in creating the future of the industry.

It’s very casual, there are no formalities, just conversation with industry peers on an important topic, please feel free to join us!

Where: Wine Connection Bar & Bistro @ Cuppage Terrace – Cuppage Rd, Singapore
When: March 23, 2016, 5:00 – 7:30pm

Live Event: The Power of Video Live-Streaming for PR


Video live-streaming, characterized by apps such as Periscope, Meerkat and Blab, is an exciting and rapidly growing space, with exceptional relevance to PR and all communications.

In our Thought Leader Series on What to Expect in 2016, Trevor Young’s view on 2016 wsa “I’m bullish on video live-streaming”. An earlier article on this publication explained How Brands Are Using Live Video Events: The Opportunity for PR.

To help PR professionals engage successfully with these new platforms, we are running a video live-streaming event, featuring some of the top people in the field. You can experience the Blab platform in action, listen to their insights, and engage directly in conversation. See you on the Blab!

The Power of Video Live-Streaming for PR

Mark Fidelman, Managing Partner, Evolve! & Author, Socialized!
Suzanne Nguyen, Future Geek & Meerkat Top 25 user
Trevor Young, Founder, PR Warrior & Author, microDOMINATION

US PST: Thu Feb 4th, 4:00-4:30pm
US EST: Thu Feb 4th, 7:00-7:30pm
Australia EST: Fri Feb 5th, 11:00-11:30am
Singapore/HK: Fri Feb 5th, 8:00-8:30am


5 Big Ideas about the Future of PR: Employee Amplification, Budget-Neutral News and More


Diversity is perhaps the hallmark of the future of PR. This realization was evident at the Creating the Future of PR Forum held in Sydney last week, when five speakers, each with very different perspectives, shared insights on how they see the industry developing. The speakers’ big ideas ranged from employee participation in company communications, to the role of branded content, evolving business models, and responses to the shift to consumer power.

Below are five brief snapshots of key ideas the speakers shared at the event.

Localization, personalization, and employee empowerment: Matt Trewin, General Manager – Retail & Media Communications, Telstra

Two thirds of Telstra’s 40,000 employees are interested in advocating for their company on social media, said Matt Trewin from Telstra. He revealed that Telstra and other large corporates are using social media for social engagement and empowerment. Key to this strategy is rethinking, “Who are our spokespeople?”

The move to involve employees and local communities in PR is generating personalized content, Facebook pages with local audiences, and local programs and events. According to Trewin, these trends are emerging because PR is becoming “less centrally controlled and uptight”. Trewin believes that the future will see more organizations pilot and invest in social sharing platforms that can reach clients, prospects and locals directly.

PR professionals need balance: Tiffany Farrington, Founder of Social Diary

Working in PR used to be about “money and titles”. But now it is about “work-life balance”, said Tiffany Farrington, the Founder of the Social Diary online network for PR and media.

Regardless of whether work-life balance revolves around more family time, freedom, or more time to explore personal projects, the trend towards flexible workplaces is making its mark. The United States has seen a growing phenomenon called “Summer Fridays”, where staff can leave work at about 1 or 2 pm in the afternoon. The panel also mentioned LinkedIn’s recent decision to grant its employees flexible, on-demand holidays for extended durations. Similar strategies that resound with workers’ interests may entice young professionals to stay longer than the industry average: only 18 months with one company, for junior and mid-level staff.

Perfecting tailored and branded content: Tory Maguire, Editor-in-chief, Huffington Post Australia

Since becoming Editor-in-chief of the recently-launched HuffPost Australia, Tory Maguire has observed a growing challenge for PR: tailoring content to specific platforms.

Internal PR initiatives at the Huffington Post, in particular Partner Studio, are helping brands to attract more followers through authentic storytelling. The panel debated the newsworthiness of branded content, which for some speakers meant the ability of content to stand alone—and be engaging and shareable—if stripped of its brand message.

Evolving budgets and business models: Allison Lee, Director of Media and PR for Destination NSW

Allison Lee foregrounded the rise of “budget-neutral news solutions” in PR. Once the exclusive domain of PR related to the travel industry, budget-neutral news is becoming widely expected, Lee said. As a result, PR firms are increasing their budgets by partnering with large corporates.

Another shift Lee observed is that more PR firms are viewing their staff as producers. This is a response to an emerging challenge for PR: developing new business models for broadcasted news based on the most engaged audiences—such as computer and tablet users—and the best return on investment.

Keeping up with consumer behavior: Jamie Verco, Lead Partner, N2N and Fuel Communications

We live in “an era of instant everything”, said PR innovator Jamie Verco. Immediacy is making consumers more discerning. Content, therefore, needs to be more relevant and convenient than ever before. PR agencies will need to adopt a range of strategies to keep apace with consumer behavior, including:
– diversifying agencies’ services to solve complex and non-traditional communications problems
– increasing agencies’ scale and networks of relationships
– developing professionals with world-class, specialist skills
– evolving agency structures to have a client-centric focus, and
– being open to new forms of communication and publication.

Audience insights

Audience members at the Creating the Future of PR forum were asked to describe in a few words their vision of the key issues and opportunities shaping the future of PR. Here is the “word cloud” they generated through Twitter-to-screen live interaction:


Across the diversity of ideas expressed at the event, PR professionals proved to be sanguine about the future they are helping to create. The opportunity to reflect upon this future and the quality of the ideas shared made the Creating the Future of PR forum a standout event.