This blog is part of our PRedictions series, a collection of posts from PR and communications leaders offering insights, advice, and opinions on how our industry can grow in 2019. To view our full list of 2019 PRedictions, click here. Alice Weightman, Founder and Managing Director, The Work Crowd, predicts:
As we reflect on the ups and downs of 2018, we’re happy to say that despite Brexit uncertainty, business is booming in the freelance space. The popularity of more flexible, fluid ways of working shows no signs of letting up, with 2m people across the UK now opting for the freelance lifestyle.
In PR and communications, we’re seeing the market come of age in a number of ways, as freelance professionals stamp their mark on the industry, and more companies realise the value that independent practitioners can bring to their marketing efforts – and the bottom line.
With that in mind, here are a few predictions of what 2019 will have in store for freelancers…
1. Centralisation: As freelancers become an increasingly established and valued part of the mainstream workforce, we’ll see greater centralisation of this talent, through technology, hiring and communication platforms like The Work Crowd, and stronger networks. It will become easier for clients to connect, engage and collaborate with freelancers, as businesses realise the importance of building freelance hubs of people known to them. On the flipside, independent professionals will also gain greater powers to market their services, protect their rights and connect with their peers.
2. Hybrid location model: Marketing and PR has traditionally been focused in London and other key regional hubs however, thanks to freelancing, the old rules no longer apply. Driven by the rising cost of living, never mind running a business, in the big cities, coupled with a shift towards greater flexibility amongst permanent and freelance teams, there will be a boom in businesses and agencies opting for the hybrid location model. Staff will work remotely and flexibly in the main, while ensuring regular face time and meetups to forge culture and collaboration.
3. Diversity: A much-discussed topic in the PR industry, the make-up of the workforce still doesn’t accurately reflect the diverse population it communicates too. And that doesn’t just mean gender, but needs to cover age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, background and a breadth of views in general. While some improvements have been made, there is still significant ground to make up and increasingly, agencies will turn to freelancers to bring in diverse thinking, perspectives and new ideas.
4. Collaboration: Established and experienced freelancers will increase their capacity to take on larger projects and command higher fees, by connecting and collaborating on a greater scale with their peers. We’ll see greater integration between freelancers, as well as with permanent staff, to enable broader, integrated campaigns, requiring multiple skill sets, thereby providing a seamless solution to client needs.
5. Government recognition: We’ll also start to see the recommendations of the Taylor Review become reality, as the Government aims to address the rights and treatment of freelance and gig workers. New initiatives could include ensuring gig workers are paid the same as full-time staff for doing the same job and introducing notice periods and compensation for cancelled shifts or projects.
Whether you’re an old-hand, or you’re just starting out in freelancing, there are opportunities aplenty in the next 12 months. But for now, make sure you take some well-deserved time to relax and recuperate over the Christmas break, and we wish you a free, flexible and fruitful 2019!