OPINION: The Big Question - What do you see as the greatest PR opportunity in the year ahead?

With Christmas cheer well behind us and New Year's resolutions already broken, it's time to gaze into PRWeek's crystal ball to predict what events are likely to keep PROs busy through 2001.

With Christmas cheer well behind us and New Year's resolutions already broken, it's time to gaze into PRWeek's crystal ball to predict what events are likely to keep PROs busy through 2001.



STEVEN LEIGH

Communique Public Relations

'Social historian Daniel J Boorstin once wrote, 'Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some hire Public Relations Officers'. It's perhaps fair to say then that in 2001 politics will be keeping many PR practitioners busier than normal. Far from being the usual treadmill of grey faces and pointless one-upmanship, 2001 is the year that politics gets interesting. From Blair's strained perma-grin to Hague's desperate daily soundbite, the general election will grab many headlines. And across the water we have the most quotable president since Reagan. Time to start dusting off those old PR chestnuts. 'If politicians were a sandwich which type of sandwich would they be?''



SARAH HARWOOD

Shire Hall Communications

'It has to be healthcare PR. No other sector of the PR market generates as much general media coverage, as well as being the most popular subject for internet searches by consumers. Healthcare PR is massive and can only grow, with 'patient empowerment' the buzz phrase of the moment, as the public appetite for information outstrips supply. Patients will take a far more active role in their own treatment and this will prove significant in 2001, with a general election imminent. The unveiling of the new National Service Framework for the care of older people and NICE (National Insitute for Clinical Excellence) rulings all represent superb PR opportunities.'



MARK ADAMS

Media Report

'If we want to look at the PR business aggressively, there is a real opportunity for PROs to steal from advertising budgets. These have been under pressure in 2000 and will be more so in 2001 as advertising struggles to prove its value for money in a world of fragmented media It might well be that at the end of 2001, PR money is allocated first and advertising money as an afterthought - quite the reverse of the common situation today. But there are threats too - lawyers and management consultants will take more of our work if we are not eager and able to extend our natural realm of activities swiftly and decisively beyond the safe traditions of the press release, PR stunt, photo-op and event.'



ALEX MACKEY

GCI Financial

'Next year we'll see several emerging opportunities in the financial PR market - possibly a merging or collaboration of the stock exchanges, which will have huge ramifications for clients and agencies. The alliances between stock exchanges is a prelude to what is becoming a much more international investor relations market and that presents an important opportunity for IR practices. I also think the new issues market will return next year with a vengeance - there will be increased IPO, merger and acquisition activity in the second quarter onwards, both in the UK and across the world. And we'll see many more clients listing on more than one stock exchange to increase the capital they can raise, also providing international opportunities for financial PR.'



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