Ogilvy PR Australia Announces Major Changes for Company and PR Profession

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, July 25, 2011 - The practice of public relations is set for a major change with Ogilvy PR Australia announcing a number of initiatives aimed at taking the company and the profession into the next decade.

In research jointly commissioned by the company and chapters of the leading Australian industry body International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), an overwhelming number of respondents (76%)  agreed that the term “PR” will be dropped in the next decade as the role and nature of agencies and the discipline itself changes. Ogilvy PR, Australia’s largest and most awarded agency, undertook the research with the IABC to mark the company’s 10th anniversary in Australia. The research involved 300 online quantitative surveys among Australian PR and communications professionals, informed by 18 qualitative interviews conducted with leading industry figures.

On the back of this research, Ogilvy PR has pledged to:

  • Permanently stop measuring communications effectiveness by the much derided “Advertising Equivalent Value” (AVE) in 2012 and evaluate the newly proposed “Value Metrics” guidelines developed by the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications
  • Bolster its strategy, planning, creative and insights capabilities by a further 15% in the coming year by redefining and reinvesting in existing roles. As the only Australian PR agency with a Strategy and Planning Director, as well as a dedicated strategic communications research and insights brand, the company will also begin the search for a creative director this year
  • Apply a unique 360 degree communications filter to all briefs to further capitalize on a future where employee empowerment is paramount and digital engagement is an integral part of every consultant’s skill set
  • Embark on an ambitious in-house training program aimed at giving consultants a better hands-on understanding of the operational demands of business and clients.

Kieran Moore, Ogilvy PR Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, said the public relations industry needed to redefine rather than rename itself.

“We believe the age of spin, after being on life support for several years, is now dead. While we don’t agree with dropping ‘PR’ from our discipline, we think this shows that companies, organizations and individuals are demanding authentic communications advice that focuses on the reality of reputation in the real world context of business and organizational needs,” Ms. Moore said.

The overall theme of the study was “PR Communications in 2021,” and the responses showed that the biggest threat to the industry was the need to quantify and redefine the way PR outcomes are measured. In addition, the “socialization of brands” - the ability of companies to be seen as an integral and benign part of a target audience’s lives - was highlighted as the main role (67%) for PR in the future.

“This research further emphasizes that communications is both an art and a science,” Ms. Moore said. “More than ever before, brands must remain authentic as audiences are looking for engagement that interests, excites, amuses and provokes thought. PR practitioners need to become even better storytellers as they relate a brand’s messages in compelling ways, whether you’re client or agency-side.”

Translating an organization’s stories was ranked as the most important quality for PR communication practitioners in the next decade (25%) by those on both sides of the agency and client fence. With commentators predicting labor shortages once the huge baby-boomer demographic moves into retirement, the research found a strong expectation that employee value will rise in the next decade. Seventy-nine per cent of respondents thought that by 2021 employees will be an organization’s most critical brand ambassadors and 78% agreed that employees will expect to play a role in shaping company brands of the future.

"That finding aligns with all the research and experience we have gathered through our employee communication consultancy, and it’s why we are going to further stress to our clients the necessity for internal and external communications to create a united front," Ms Moore said.

Key research findings and industry reaction can be found at:

For a full copy of the research results please contact:
Katherine Scott
Strategy and Planning Director
Ogilvy PR Australia

For more information contact:
Rebecca Tilly
STW Group
Ph: +61 410 501 043


About Ogilvy PR Australia
Ogilvy PR is the largest and most awarded public relations agency in Australia, scooping more than 50 Australian and global trophies in the last two years, including the top honour amongst all WPP owned PR agencies. Ogilvy PR is made up of specialist agencies including: Howorth (business and technology communications), Pulse (consumer communications), Impact Employee Communications, Parker & Partners (bi-partisan public affairs specialist), Ogilvy PR Health and Cannings (corporate communications). Ogilvy PR Australia is jointly owned by WPP and STW Group, Australia’s leading marketing, content and communications services group.

About the IABC Chapters of Australia
Founded in 1970, The International Association of Business Communicators provides a professional network of over 15,500 business communication professionals in over 80 countries. Australian members are drawn from a cross-spectrum of organisations, including the corporate, consulting, government and not-for-profit sectors. Our overriding commitment is to contribute to the success of our organisations through effective communication practice.


Key research findings:

The future for PR Communications

  • Almost two thirds (67%) of PR practitioners agreed that by 2021 PR’s new role will be about helping to socialise organisations as the ability to make friends with target audiences will make or break the brands of the future
  • Over three in five (63%) PRs agreed that in 2021 our ability as PR communicators to educate a brand’s audience will heavily depend on our ability to entertain them
  • Translating an organisation’s stories across audiences cited by a quarter (24% and 25%, respectively) of PR practitioners as the most important quality of successful professionals in both agency and in-house roles in 2021
  • Understanding and experience in business management and operational experience was ranked as the least important quality (4%) of a successful PR communications agency professional in 2021
  • 76% of PR communicators agreed that by 2021 the industry will refer to itself as communications professionals/agencies rather than PR professionals/agencies.
  • 60% agreed that PR communications and advertising would be merged into hybrid/blended agencies that deliver both content and reach
  • Almost half (45%) agreed that future agencies will be restructured to be ideas-based content creators rather than current specialty-based delineations
  • Client and agency practitioners agreed that strategic thinking and planning will be the most significant contribution to clients’ communication needs in 2021 (36% ranked it first), followed by implementation and execution (31%), content and message creation 20%), and acting as the client’s guardian/educator (14%)


  • Almost one in three (32%) of client-side PR practitioners say that demonstrating and measuring effectiveness of PR communications is the biggest threat facing the industry
  • Almost one in three (30%) respondents rated ‘influence of the audience reached’ as the most important
    measure of success in 2021 and only half (51%) agreed that agencies of the future will be valued by their ability to identify and engage the super influencers important to brands
  • AVE and ‘value of the company/share price’ were the lowest predicted measures with just 1% of respondents seeing these as most important measures of activity in 2021

Employee engagement

  • Over three quarters (79%) of respondents agreed that by 2021 employees will be an organisations most critical brand ambassadors, integral to delivering every external campaign
  • Over three quarters (78%) agree that employees will expect to play a role in shaping company brands of the future



  • The research study was led by Ogilvy Illumination, Ogilvy PR’s strategic communications research specialists and the online questionnaire was administered by ORU
  • 18 in-depth interviews were conducted with leading industry opinion leaders to help inform the quantitative study questionnaire
  • 300 online quantitative surveys undertaken in July 2011 amongst 300 Australian PR communications professionals
  • Almost 50:50 split between respondents from agency side and client side
  • 69% female respondents, 31% male
  • 61% of respondents from the private sector and 35% of respondents from Government or NGO/non-profit sector (3% selected ‘other’)
  • 16% identified as from employee engagement discipline, 13% from consumer communications, 14% from cross-specialty disciplines, 11% from technology communications and 8% from public affairs, 8% health, 8% corporate, 8% public sector
  • 60% NSW, 28% Victoria, 5% Queensland, 4% ACT, 1% SA
  • 4% recent graduates or trainees, 15% 2-5yrs experience, 22% 6-10yrs experience, 23% 11 15yrs experience, 27% 16-30yrs experience

Contact: Rebecca Tilly
Date: July 25, 2011
Office: Sydney