Global PR practitioners must be savvy about the global challenges, where environment, geopolitics and economy are intertwined. Therefore, I think this recent report by McKinsey is a must-read. It describes the heavy increase in energy, food, water and materials needs and lists some opportunities to improve resource productivity. Here are three major challenges in the resource landscape identified by the report. I see many interesting implications for global PR practitioners.
- The new middle class. More than 3 billion people will join the middle class in the next 20 years. Coming from China, India, Brazil, Nigeria and other developing countries, they will boost demand for energy, mobility, urban infrastructures and food, and their consumption patterns will be more and more sophisticated. Global PR practitioners will play a key role in understanding and satisfying these new consumers as well as managing stakeholder relationships in those countries and, finally, helping the vibrant local brands from those countries become powerful in the domestic and international market.
- Resource supply inelasticity. While demand will be rising, new sources of supply are difficult to find, expensive and often controversial. Therefore, since supply is inelastic, even small changes in the demand may result in large price fluctuations. Global PR managers should act as the eyes and the ears of their organizations, scanning the environment and trying to understand the signals of changes in resource demand and their impact. If they will be able to provide smart insights on this fast-changing environmental, geopolitical and economic landscape, they will be likely to shape the future strategies of their organizations. This task is even more challenging, given the complex interdependence of the value chains and national economies.
- Innovation to increase resource productivity. In order to face the increased resource demand, a big innovation wave is needed. PR people should participate to innovation teams as they are able to foster creative communication, facilitate team dynamics and bring stakeholder insight. Moreover, since the path to innovation follows more and more often an open innovation approach and it involves several stakeholders, PR should be on board and have a say. Finally, innovations must be spread and socialised and PR practitioners can act as change leaders.
To sum up, a global PR leader should develop the following skills:
- deep stakeholder insight into developing countries
- environmental, geopolitical and economic understanding
- system thinking
- open innovation facilitation
- change leadership
By Marcello Coppa
Managing partner, Anteprima LAB, Italy
Global Affiliate, The Center for Global Public Relations