Danny Rogers: No cause for alarm in global PR markets

Grayling's new Global PULSE survey - the results of which are published this week - provides an intriguing snapshot of worldwide PR.

Danny Rogers: No cause for alarm in global PR markets
Danny Rogers: No cause for alarm in global PR markets

The report quizzed 1,200 PR professionals across the world, which led to small samples in some regions, but nevertheless highlights some significant trends.

Most noticeable is a global tendency for corporations to invest in in-house comms resources and use PR agencies for projects rather than retained support. This is particularly noticeable in the response from the UK market and not good news for consultancies if it persists.

At first glance there is a cruel irony here. For decades PR agencies have argued the importance of comms to organisations' long-term success. And as the penny has dropped in big corporations, their response has been to cut down their use of external consultancy and hire their own comms specialists.

However, the smarter consultancies may benefit regardless. Corporations will still - probably, increasingly - require agencies to implement PR-led campaigns in a consistent way across the world. This plays into the hands of the global networks such as Edelman, Weber Shandwick and Grayling (if it can achieve its ambitions to become a truly worldwide network).

And of course this in-house trend is not going to be as prevalent in fast-growing emerging markets, where consultancy expertise still commands a premium. This is why, of course, the sensible global PR agencies are currently bolstering their own resources in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Latin America.

But smaller, local, specialist agencies should also continue to flourish even in mature markets, because although client companies are bolstering their PR departments, most are unlikely to go as far as staffing up with teams of lobbyists, experiential experts or fashion PROs.

From the consultancy perspective, where you don't want to be right now is in the 'squeezed middle' relying on outsourced press office functions.

On the other hand if you're an in-house PR professional, the findings of PULSE are pretty encouraging, particularly so if you are working in a fast-growth region like India.

And while investment in comms looks more flat than buoyant in Western economies, this is understandable given the economic climate. More importantly, there is a growing 'visibility' of the value of comms at the highest level of corporations, which bodes well in the long term. So the message to all is 'keep calm and carry on' (communicating professionally and ethically). PR remains a growth business.

Also read: UK clients lead projects shift

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