What does the creative communications industry look like post Covid-19?

BIG debate – Dale Parmenter[2]

Business events within the UK have seen significant impact with cancellation levels of more than half in the second and third quarter of 2020. A forecast total loss across the entire of the events industry could be £58 billion this year, according to national tourism board VisitBritain.

The Events industry Board (EIB), an industry-led body for the UK event industry, has said it is continuing to press for more support from the government as measures for the longer-term recovery of the industry were reviewed at a meeting, 4 June.

DRPG Big debate[4]Again this devastating backdrop for the industry, Creative communications group DRPG brought together special guests from publications and associations representing events, comms and digital for a roundtable discussion and temperature check of the creative communication industry, which has been devastated by Coronavirus. The Big Debate, which was broadcast through their bespoke portal and included notable names from each sector, addressed issues such as the future of communications, how sectors and industries are persevering, and what support is available amidst the disruption as businesses re-evaluate their strategies and move forward to adapting to the new norm.

The panel represented many of the channels which make up the internal and external communication sector, from PR to live events, film and video to digital solutions. The breadth of expertise on the panel meant a balanced overview of the challenges of the last 10 weeks, and more importantly the opportunities for the future.

The panel included: Caroline Clift, Editor at Stand Out magazine, Claire Fennelow, Executive Director at the Event & Visual Communication Association (EVCOM), Martin Fullard, Editor at Conference News, Holly Hall, MD at the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA), Simon Hughes, Vice Chair at the British Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP), Francis Ingham, Director General at the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) and Andrew Thomas, Publishing Editor at Communicate magazine.

Francis Ingham, Director General at the PRCA, said: “While the PR industry is facing severe challenges the crisis has accelerated several trends benefitting the industry such as the rise of digital. It’s also highlighted brand reputation. Some companies have handled this crisis well, others have not but at its heart it has brought to the fore the realisation that a company’s reputation is its most valuable asset. There will be some upsides in the realisation that we can work from home effectively and efficiently. The industry has had a shock and is now changing its model and looking to the recovery phase and there will be one. There is no doubt the industry will survive and prosper in the future.”

While the PR industry is facing severe challenges, the crisis has accelerated some positive trends benefitting the industry: the rise of digital, the highlighting of brand reputation as most valuable asset and facilitating working from home.

Collaboration has come to the fore: trade bodies and associations have done great work encouraging collaboration between businesses and subsectors and supporting each other, putting the needs and interests of their people first. Sharing venues, collaborating on events and sharing ideas and experiences.

Mentoring and sharing workforce and capacity throughout the comms industry has been indispensable and this shouldn’t stop once this crisis is over. This is a chance to improve the platforms to help the collaboration to continue.

A collaboration between comms and events will be vital as live events begin to start back up. Events will require extensive PR and marketing campaigns to consistently create reassurance within the public, accompanied by some form of certification of safety levels.

Confidence is low and events are on the backburner until 2021. Businesses still need to communicate so this service sits with comms and digital.

Dale Parmenter, CEO at DRPG, said: “While the outlook may look bleak for certain sectors of our industry, there is most certainly grounds for optimism. Gathering experts from each field including those from both press and associations has been a fantastic chance to share an overview of the challenges faced but most importantly to discuss the learnings that have resulted from this time of crisis.

“As has been expressed throughout the debate, it is the collaboration within our industry that is paramount to its survival. All parties are equally committed to seeing the industry successfully weather this storm, and the first step to achieving this is open and honest communication. We must continue to work together and support each other to see our industry flourish once again.”