Around the world, trade remains a focus for governments and businesses. Perhaps counterintuitively the ongoing pandemic has only served to heighten public awareness of how inter-connected markets are. The past two years have also strengthened those links between economies and people as vast supply chains have geared up and down to meet the needs of health services everywhere. Based on CEPII papers, trade today is at near record highs as a proportion of GDP than at any time in history. Whereas trade was around 10% of GDP globally for much of the 20th century, the 21st has seen it rise to just under and over 25% in the past few years. The trend is more obvious when looking at the split between goods and services. In 1980 services accounted for 17% of global exports, by 2018 that had risen to 24%.
What does this mean for PR professionals? They need to evolve to a very different set of circumstances to keep delivering value-add for clients. First and foremost, that means not just thinking but also acting more globally. The benefits for those firms is clear: in our analysis of 77 U.S. PR agencies with revenues between $1m – $10m those with the ability to project their services and solutions across global borders had growth rates double that of their peers.
The new “globalization” also means new client needs. The skills required to meet them aren’t just about being nimbly multi-lingual in order to execute campaigns in different markets, but also having professionals who understand the cultural nuances across a range of media markets. Through our own experience we know these differ markedly but applying that expertise is key to ensuring success for campaigns in an integrated, flexible and efficient way across global markets.
The second ongoing challenge that PR pros face is handling a media audience which is increasingly specialized by topic and industry and less constrained by national boundaries. This atomization of media has continued apace in 2021 and shows no signs of changing. This doesn’t mean that journalists don’t want comment or data that’s specific only to their national audiences but that regional insights and global trends are of increasing interest, sometimes even gaining parity or superseding market-specific insights depending on industry and issue.
The challenge, then, for PR professionals is managing the impact of these two forces as client demand evolves. Increased flows of trade in goods and services risks creating a bifurcated PR industry in each market. With a few remaining players focused purely on national audiences and domestic firms. Whilst global media atomization means PR professionals need to make content available in an even more timely manner and a way that works across various channels; video, imagery, audio, online and offline trades and mainstream publications. Those teams and practitioners who can manage both of these forces – evolving ever more multi-national capacity and speaking to focused media outlets in a way that truly ‘follows the sun’ are more likely to achieve what clients want and need.