10 February 2012
This week Octopus, in conjunction with our pals at PR
Week and Marketing, held its Future5 Live Event to showcase the
type of campaigns we think are starting to signpost the future of
the PR industry.
It was a cracking bash with the PR industry seemingly in fine
fettle. Fifty communicators from all sectors coming together to
have a look into the future and hear from some of their peers who
have conceived and executed cutting edge campaigns over the last
There was much positive debate, discussion both in the Q&A
and over coffee afterwards. Here's a quick summary:
1. The campaign of the future will be
So to be a Future5 award winner in the future, campaigns will
need to use all, not just some, of the trends - research and
planning, brand partnerships, audience participation, use of
technology, and of course what we've termed, the BIG Idea. And
maybe even more that will evolve in the future.
But to deliver those campaigns there needs to be a new skill set
for agencies and in-house teams. Not just the core skills of media
relations but content development, video, design, production, app
development, influencer relations, direct communications, even
traditional advertising. The list goes on. PR is doing lots of
stuff it's never done before.
Of course you can get all of these different skill sets from
individual agencies, but we're convinced that the more forward
thinking ones (ahem, like us J) should be able to offer all of
these services under one roof.
Any PR agency, or in house team, failing to innovate at the
moment won't be here in a few years.
2. Managing risk versus trying new stuff
PR people are good in a crisis. We've long been the guardians of
corporate reputation and let's face it, doing new things can be
risky. So how do you minimise risk but maximise campaigns and new
approaches? Well Future5 shows it's through research and planning,
something that PR agencies have been slow to embrace.
Unless campaigns start with an insight into the audience -
spotting gaps and new channels - we think they are at best
ineffective, at worst risky to the brand. And lots of the Future5
winners demonstrated this.
3. Outcomes not outputs
One trend we've seen over the last couple of years with Future5
is the need to drive audience participation and action. This has
been brought about by the growth in social media channels, like
Facebook and Twitter, where encouraging 'likes' or 'follows' is
easy and demonstrable. But increasingly PR is being asked to
predict and goal ourselves on direct action not coverage.
This can be a problem for those who don't have the integrated
mindset or the ability to benchmark. Without this foresight and
confidence, you can't build more direct metrics around direct
outcomes - sales leads, registration or online feedback - which
undoubtedly is the way we're heading.
4. PR relationship with the business and who
One comment made was that it seemed less about whether PR and
marketing owned the campaign, and more about what tactics made it a
success. An encouraging sign. But often, in reality there are still
barriers. There is still the perception from many in marketing and
beyond that PR is butting in on a conversation if it requires
anything beyond the press release.
So what's the opportunity? The opportunity for PR is in coming
up with campaigns, not just story ideas, and to go and find money
from other parts of the business to bring these to life. Thinking
bigger and more long term. Because in reality, the overstretched PR
budget alone cannot do everything.
So, what was the message from the floor? Coming out loud and
clear was think bigger and PR practitioners can all be rewarded
with the opportunity to do more and evolve their roles. Develop
well-planned ideas, integrated approaches and a focus on outcomes
from your campaigns and your agency partners. And try and push
outside of our comfort zones occasionally and not be scared of
failing sometimes. Which is after all, the very essence of what
Future5 is all about!
You can learn all about Future5 from our website pages or why not read all about
the campaigns in
PR, , PR week, marketing, Future 5, Campaigns | Leave comment
As our Future 5 project for 2010 is coming to a close,
it was a pleasant surprise for PR Week to produce a short video
summary of the
breakfast we hosted over at Haymarket towers. If you're reading
this blog you've most likely heard of our Future 5 project, so I
won't dwell on what it is too much. Especially as we now have our
snazzy booklet on-line (drop us an email if you want a hard
A fair few months have passed since its inception, and it's been
good to see more and more of the trends coming into featured
campaigns in the press, and great results for our clients when we
practice what we preach. Also, from chatting to all you comms
peeps, it seems as if we've hit the mark with what we're saying.
Rather than feel all warm and fuzzy about the project being a
success, we are (like the rest of you!) planning for 2011 and
beyond. How much will the trends change? How soon will they become
obsolete? What exciting things will hit us right in the chops from
leftfield? What next???? It's such an exciting time to be working
in this industry, I for one, can't wait to find out what 2011 has
got in store for us....
, PR week, Future 5, Comms | Leave comment
We like to think we get our campaigns spot on most of
the time, but the minute you relax and take things for granted is
when it all starts to fall apart like the proverbial house of
cards. I guess, to some extent, that is what Future 5 is all about.
Not taking anything for granted, and making a genuine attempt to
find out what needs to be happening next with our industry, making
sure that we are doing it - and doing it well!
There are many companies that invest billions into analysing the
future direction of their respective industries. We don't have
billions of pounds, and unfortunately we don't have a
time-travelling DeLorean. What we do have, however, are some of the
brightest and most capable minds within the comms industry at our
beck and call - which turned out to be more than enough when
hosting our "Future 5 Breakfast Briefing" with PR Week.
The morning was a great success. This was all helped along with
Haymarket's Philip Smith pithy chairing of the event; our very own
Jon Lonsdale dealing with the cut and thrust of a questioning
audience; and two further great presentations from Steve Kirk at
Honda and Jamie Harley of Deloitte.
More details on the Future 5 trends/campaigns can be found
Feedback from the guests was brilliant, and I know that the
majority of people in attendance were pleased to know their comms
programs were starting to head in the right direction but also saw
areas that they knew they could improve on.
However, one thing that did strike me was how hard some of our
brand-side peers have to fight to get experimental and innovative
ideas through. Agency side, you kind of take it for granted that
you are encouraged to be as creative as possible, but this is sadly
not always the case with our friends across the divide.
I hope Future 5 has showed our guests that to be brave you
sometimes have to be willing to put your neck on the line and think
At the risk of sounding like a Honda advert, one of Steve Kirk's
remarks stayed with me that day - a quote from their founder, Mr.
Soichiro Honda. "99% of success is failure." Basically, don't be
afraid to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. Be brave,
pick yourself up and be prepared to (boldly) go where no PR has
gone before - that is what Future 5 is all about.
PR, PR week, marketing, Event, Future 5, Deloitte, Honda, Haymarket | Leave comment
A few months back at Octopus we thought,
wouldn't it be nice if we could look into the future? But, we
didn't mean finding out the winning lottery numbers for the next
week's draw, or even how England would fare at the World Cup
Octopus stole our thunder on that one
anyway!). We were thinking more about what the future of our
industry was going to look like. We're pretty deep,
But with so much change going on - changing media landscape,
changing consumption models, changing tools - how could we not want
to know? We noticed that we never seem to do the same project
twice any more. Every project has a nuance or a new marketing
objective to reach that stretches the old grey matter that little
This got us thinking beyond Octopus Towers, to pinpoint some of
the new types of campaigns that are going on out there in
brand-land. We decided, with the help of the nice people at
PR Week, to create Future 5 a
campaign that seeks out the most experimental campaigns and
techniques that are ongoing in our industry and celebrates them!
We had so many fantastic campaigns put forward that our panel of
experts had their work cut out trying to decide between one
great idea and the next. But somehow they did, providing us with
our very own glimpse into the future.
So, being the generous people that we are, we didn't want to keep
them all to ourselves. We wanted to share them with you all too. So
here they are:
Research and planning: Honda
and The Dream
Use of technology: Orange and
Audience participation: Brothers and Festival
Brand partnerships: Deloitte and Twitter Opera
The big idea: Brewdog and Sink the
But this is just a taster, you can find out more about Future 5
here or you can join us at our VIP breakfast event at Haymarket
Publishing's office on Wednesday, September 29th hosted by PR
Week's editor, Danny Rogers.
As well as hearing about the outcome of the Future 5 project,
it's a chance to meet with other like-minded PR and Comms managers
and discuss how you think communication will change, so why not
come along? We'd love to see you there.
Future 5 | Leave comment
At Octopus we're all about change. We talk
about it constantly - on our website, at our Monday team
meetings, when advising clients and of course when pitching
to prospects. There are lots of shifts going on in the
industry that are well documented - changing media landscape,
changing consumption models, changing tools - the list goes
on. But it's easy to talk about these things in theory rather
than in practice.
But, what we've noticed is that we never seem to do the same
project twice any more.
Every project has a nuance or a new marketing objective to reach
that stretches the old grey matter that little bit further.
It's certainly not for the comfy slippers brigade. It
takes extra time, requires gutsy ideas, new skills and techniques
as well as lots of good old fashioned elbow grease. But it is
brilliant. Why? Well, finally, we PR people are being
asked to do the highly integrated challenging communications
projects that we've always aspired to do. We're getting to
try things out and learn new stuff.
All this got us to thinking about elevating this beyond Octopus
towers and trying to pinpoint some of the new types of campaigns
that are going on out there in brand-land. So we approached
the nice people at PR Week about working with us on a project
called Future 5. They seemed to
like the idea, and so here it is officially launching today.
We recognise that we can all learn lots from some of the cutting
edge and experimental campaigns and techniques that are ongoing in
our industry but that don't find their way into the
mainstream. So the Future 5 project is our way of finding
them, celebrating them and trying and add to the conversation about
the new trends set to shape our industry.
So if you're a PR or Comms Manager we'd love you to get
involved. Send us your comments, please enter
your campaigns/stunts/launches that have pushed the boundaries in
some way (even if you don't have rigorous evaluation metrics
we still want to hear about it!), or tried something out from other
marketing disciplines, or maybe just approached a problem in a
completely fresh way. Or maybe it's just cool and you're proud of
You should hear more about it from PR Week or
our Future 5 event later in the year, and we'll be blathering on
about it constantly as well. So please stay tuned for
Here's to the joy of trying more things out in the future.
, Octopus, Future 5 | 7 comments
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