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A Few Hot Takes from PR Industry Leaders

Last week I had the immense pleasure of attending the latest PRSA Counselors Academy Annual Conference in Palm Springs, Calif. It’s always an event that fills my bucket in many ways – the camaraderie is unmatched, and connecting with and learning from so many accomplished PR agency owners and C-level executives is incredibly enlightening. And yes, the weather was okay too!


During the week I heard a few things that especially resonated with me. Call them my latest Counselors “aha” moments. They include:


1.     The AI genie is definitely out of the bottle. We’re all aware that AI is out there and starting to have an impact on our world. But we’re not all aware of just how big an impact AI already has (much of it concerning) on our society, and how that’s likely to keep rapidly growing and evolving. To put it simply, I left the conference sufficiently scared for our future. I’m definitely not saying it’s all bad. But if it hasn’t affected you personally yet, it's just a matter of time – just ask any parent of a high-schooler. We all need to understand it on a much deeper level, and do something to harness and restrain its power before it overwhelms us. We also need to have honest conversations with our children about it – and set appropriate boundaries.


2.     Agency demand is strong and rising. Time and again, at the conference, I heard my peers talk about the solid overall health of their firms. I also heard lawyers and consultants to our industry report that more M&A deals are being done today with small to mid-size PR firms than in recent memory. I take all of this as a really good sign of three things:

a. Our economy is better than most people are saying it is. We tend to be among the first disciplines that leaders cut back on in tough times…but today we’re seeing investment and experimentation. That wouldn’t be the case if people were worried about the upcoming election, a recession or something else.

b. The market for public relations and strategic communications in today’s business world is steady and growing.

c.     The work we’re all doing to prove our value to our clients and bosses is gaining traction and bearing fruit.


3.     Gen Z might be getting an unfair reputation. I think it’s a natural tendency of older generations to be afraid of younger people and the change in our world that they represent. As that plays out with Gen Z, we hear a lot about the lack of motivation and work ethic that people in the junior career stages seem to have. Personal experience, and those of others that I heard about last week, suggest this is an unfair stereotype. What Gen Z really seems to want is a safe space to experiment, learn about our world and come into their own. Of course some younger people are lazy – some people in all age groups could be called that. But how is their desire for safety different from what we’ve all wanted throughout our careers and lives? Just as it’s on them to show up and work hard, it’s on us to create environments where they can thrive. And if we’re not willing to consider or act upon that, dare I say…maybe we’re the lazy ones.


I can’t wait to hear more about these trends and others at Counselors 2025 in Charleston, S.C. Who’s joining me?


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