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PR Evolution: 15 Changes in 15 Years!

As Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications celebrates its 15th anniversary, I've been reflecting on the sweeping changes in the world of PR and communications. Much has evolved and there have been many new developments in our field -- even a few seismic shifts that have forever changed how we communicate, the channels and technology that enable our craft. Here are my top 15:

1. The Y2K dot com bust saw deep marketing and PR cuts within companies and seeded the rapid growth of boutique agencies

2. A spike in interest in crisis communications by companies, government agencies and non-profits initially sparked by 9/11

3. The meteoric rise of digital media and the massive decline of print

4. The creation of social media that became ubiquitous virtually overnight

5. All things digital leading to the proliferation of citizen journalists, now pervasive and wielding tremendous influence over how news is covered

6. Media outlets trimming their staffs, while expanding their multi-channel offerings

7. "Mobile everywhere" and instantaneous access to news, social media and all content

8. News reformatted and distributed via multiple platforms with the evolution from CNN's 24/7 global coverage to instantaneous via social media and mobile phone. Today, Twitter is the number one source for breaking news stories.

9. Visuals, including YouTube, transforming news and information sharing

10. During the great recession of 2007-08, PR and Communications budgets and departments were gutted and many companies have not yet committed to the professional resources needed to restore that capability, let alone keep up with the new media environment

11. M&A integrations and reorganizations lead to greater focus on corporate culture, and closer collaboration between PR and internal communications

12. Agencies of all stripes, as well as brands, vie to establish their storytelling cred -- always the nuts and bolts of the PR world -- through repositioned programs designed under the banner of content creation across marketing and communications channels

13. Lines blur between agencies across disciplines (advertising, digital, marketing, social media) and roles with web, mobile and social content building out PR and marketing programs

14. The availability of quick and cheap online polls has diluted the commitment to deep market research and reduced the availability of scientifically persuasive data

15. Expectations for brands become higher, brand loyalty diminished with the advent of transparency and real-time information, and purchasing has become diluted with the digital age. Brand ambassadors become the voice of influence for ordinary consumers and they are able to leverage their reach into buying power.
The only thing constant is change - Heraclitus
Public Relations exists to build reputations by communicating and developing relationships with stakeholder audiences. We inform, educate, contextualize, respond and provoke. Our world is about words, channels to express them, people to create them, audiences to receive and interpret them.

Who can imagine what the next 15 years have in store for us?

What will become of virtual reality? Will Cortana, Siri and Alexa respond when we speak aloud in a room? Will biometrics have a role in communications and media relations?

We'll see soon enough. Looking forward to the future, and enjoying navigating today all the while.


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Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications, Inc. helps companies build reputations and differentiate in a competitive market through thought leadership, public education, issues management, content strategy, and strategic communications. To find out how ICCC can help you and your company build your reputation contact, call 212-399-0026 or visit

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