As proud sponsors of the Commission on Public Relations Education’s 50th Anniversary Report, we’ve been delving into the evolution of the industry and its education over the past five decades, as well as its future direction for the next 50 years. Much of our exploration is specifically around the chapter we’re sponsoring: Data, Insights and Strategy. This is where we expect to see the industry’s most spectacular growth and new opportunities.

To go even deeper, we invited our OG Boother Margi Booth to share insights and advice for today’s PR students and emerging young professionals.

The industry has changed dramatically since you founded M Booth. Today PR/communications professionals often have to be trendspotters, digital natives, media experts, and data analysts. What can students do to better prepare themselves to thrive in today’s dynamic marketplace?

I believe there are three core things that young professionals can do to make themselves invaluable to their clients — and to give themselves opportunities to thrive and adapt to our constantly-changing world: 

  • Embrace new skills: As Paul Holmes says, the pace change has never been faster and it’s the slowest it will ever be. We have to be familiar and proficient in emerging technology platforms like generative AI and, more importantly, know how to apply it to our workflow and deliverables.
  • Stay informed and curious: Consume a variety of media, seek out perspectives that are different from yours, continue learning beyond our craft. For instance, step out of our industry and bring a bigger worldview to your work —  respected communications counselors are those who offer clients well-informed and researched recommendations.
  • Practice being predictive: Clients need us to see around corners and anticipate opportunities and obstacles. When you see patterns or notice trends, think about them holistically: how will it impact your client’s company or sector?

Do you think students should generalize or specialize?

The answer is both. Early in your career versatility is important, it gives you exposure to different specialties and sectors. But eventually specializing can open up more advancement opportunities as many senior roles include specialized expertise.

How would you describe the importance of data to make better, more informed communications decisions?

Data is the foundation for making informed communications decisions. We have access to so much rich data that we can use to plan, to pivot and to assess  performance. Here’s how I think about it: 

  • Plan: We can mine valuable insights into audience behavior, preferences, and trends. We can also use data to anticipate challenges and pitfalls — and to ensure we’re including all perspectives. This allows us to tailor strategies for maximum relevance.
  • Pivot: Tracking campaigns in real-time lets us know what is working and what’s not. We can make game-time pivots and tweaks for optimal impact.
  • Performance: We need to be rigorous about measuring our impact. Data gives us the ability to answer the question: why are we better for having done this?

But there is still very much a place for human intelligence and intuition. If we rely too heavily on data or AI to create, we run the risk of being derivative and ineffective at creating work that matters.

How do you expect AI will shape the industry and what advice can you offer to help new practitioners stay ahead of the curve?

AI is already automating routine tasks, like media monitoring, sentiment analysis, and data processing. This is freeing up space to focus on the strategic and creative aspects of the job. That’s a really good thing. We are seeing more examples of AI being an augmentative technology or to generate a creative starting point. We’ll see that continue.

To stay ahead of the curve, there are two areas to focus on.

  • Tools and tactics: Here’s where it will be so important to become familiar with writing prompts, the options and limitations of the technology, to listen to experts, and identify real-life applications for the technology.
  • Ethics and implications: There are serious issues related to generative AI. Tomorrow’s leaders will have given real consideration to the ethics and implications of AI usage — everything from deep fakes to bias/diversity. Generative AI has a lot of promise but we need to be mindful of how it can exacerbate existing inequities.

What’s not going to change in PR/communications and what are the fundamental skill sets that are invaluable in this new world?

At M Booth, we have a mantra: how we do something means everything. This starts with ethics. While the way work — hybrid, in-office, distributed — might be evolving, our ethics must stay constant. And that feeds into culture. I built M Booth around a culture that inspires people to thrive because that is what drives growth and success.

But it is challenging to establish and sustain this in a hybrid environment. Today everyone, from the C-suite to the intern team, must be more intentional than ever about what we stand for, how we come together, and how we show up.

Beyond this, other fundamental skills are understanding human behavior and relationship ecosystems and knowing how to connect everything we do back to organizational or business goals. Curiosity, attention to detail, clear communication, adaptability, strategic thinking and creativity will always be invaluable.  

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Around the world

M Booth has a presence in 32 markets around the world in partnership with Next 15, the lovely folks who acquired us.


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