PRCA Americas Chair & Ketchum Argentina CEO Gustavo Averbuj provides the Latin American perspective on the 2021-22 ICCO World PR Report findings.
The sun’ll come out tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow
There’ll be sun
Just thinkin’ about tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow
‘Til there’s none…
The song “Tomorrow” from the musical Annie may very well summarize this year´s findings. After grieving and being sorrow (for the closures, for the victims, for the ill, for the vanished industries) we are now facing the future, our new future, with renewed optimism.
Public Relations has never been more public and more people centered. Our battles include retaining and developing key talent, re-inventing our workplaces, re-establishing the relationships with clients (working remote) and with media. Digital has come of age. The workforce has become truly global (in my own team I have people living in Germany, New York, Sao Paulo and several cities in the interior of Argentina). Challenges? No doubt! From ethics to misinformation, from political turmoil to government intervention and crazy regulations, we, in Latin America, are facing them all.
Latin Americans are known for creativity and resilience. We have survived dictatorships, military coups, disastrous economic downturns, earthquakes, natural disasters. Our economies have been fighting hyperinflation forever. Just as an example, Argentina will end up the year with more than 50 % inflation. That means that every other month our inflation rate equals that of a whole year in a country in the developed world.
But my colleagues around Latam have clearly voted for optimism. Growth will come from Digital and strategic consulting. There are increasing budgets in Environmental, Governance and social media. Corporate reputation will be central in the next coming years. If retaining talent is our key challenge, we are in a good place! Building online communities and be more efficient are two things we are always challenged with.
In some areas, our professional challenges are different from the US or Europe. The gender pay gap is as strong as in those markets but we do not face the same diversity challenges. Inclusion is more about recruiting people with disabilities or fighting strongly ingrained machism in the latin cultures. But we have been making gigantic steps on those fronts during the pandemic.
As a footnote, I would say that the one communication that has failed the test during 2021 was vaccination, science and health. From Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro attending the UN meeting without a vaccine (and boasting about it) to the many conspiranoias about Covid 19, there is a lot still to be done to be safe and have a more healthy society around us. Mental Health comms has not a minor role on this scenario.
Our PR markets are still in development. Many do not have a PR association at all. Corporate PR is, in many countries, in its infancy. Yet we are really confident on our future.