Reading a post this week by Steve Rubel got me thinking about the future of the PR agency as I feel we're on the same wave length on this issue of skills and the future shape of comms and digital consultancy. His column in Ad Age titled 'Wanted: a few good generalists' talks about how senior advisory is of most value when the advisor has general experience across a range of comms disciplines.
In my day-to-day work I've been feeling exactly like this. To advise on or to carry out work on a digital and social media project is increasingly now a technical or operational duty. There are easy bits to it (for some, for example, posting on to Twitter of Facebook is easy). There are technical bits to it (you could say design and build work in social networks is more technical). But then shaping how all digital and comms activity fits into the bigger picture of the business, this also requires a very broad range of experiences. Helping to decide where to commit efforts, channelling creativity, connecting the various comms disciplined which must be integrated and interlinked - this is what is crucial to today's campaigns.
Steve rounds off his article with a call to action for more 'systems thinking' as opposed to guru behaviour.
I see a more complex future for the corporate communications professional. At the top of a pyramid will be the systems thinker - the few good generalists, or the specialists in everything - who have a broad range of skills and experiences, and social and digital media will need to feature strongly in their skill set. Lower down the pyramid will be the operators - skilled managers with specialisms, all diverse in their roles and experiences. Then the foundations of the pyramid will be a large number of technical specialists. A good team will have a balance of skills and personnel from each level, and I think the all star team will have the perfect balance from top to bottom.