Council ready to keep momentum in '08 and beyond

Before I step down as the chair of the Council of Public Relations Firms later this month, allow me to paraphrase what certain other chief executives from DC are wont to say every January: "The state of the PR business is strong."

Before I step down as the chair of the Council of Public Relations Firms later this month, allow me to paraphrase what certain other chief executives from DC are wont to say every January: "The state of the PR business is strong."

The most recent evidence comes from a Council member survey, where three quarters of participating firms reported that bottom-line growth is ahead of last year's pace. Additionally, nearly half (48%) of the agencies claimed that revenues will likely beat their original 2007 revenue forecasts.

An increase in new-business opportunities and expanding client budgets were the two top-cited reasons for growth. In a preliminary look ahead to next year, nearly all firms expect budgets to remain at least at 2007 levels; almost half anticipate an increase.

Mapping the future
Last year, I had the privilege of speaking to the "Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business," where I was pleasantly surprised to learn that PR was a seriously popular career topic. These exceptional women couldn't have been more enthusiastic about this business; it's a moment I often think about when I consider our industry's bright future.

The Council considers many variables - including recruiting the best and brightest - when we consider the future of the organization and industry. Leadership started 2007 with a planning process which provided a thorough examination of the mission of the organization, with an eye toward solidifying its place in the industry for the long term.

The Council's mission was honed in those sessions; it now states: "To advance the business of PR firms by building the market and firms' value as strategic business partners."

Any discussion about the future of the PR industry requires mention of digital/social media and its impact on our business. My contention is that there's no sense in debating its impact on our business; we're already there. This new reality was thoroughly dissected in the Council's 2007 white paper, Relating to the Public: Public Relations in the Era of Social Media. This thoughtful document, which took an in-depth look at the impact being made by social media on various aspects of the PR industry, is a great primer on the subject and avail-able on the Council's Web site.

We're pleased with where the industry is today. Here's my question for each of you: Are you making the most of your opportunities to positively influence and strengthen the PR industry for tomorrow?

Nine and counting
The Council turns 10 next year. We have accomplished a great deal in a relatively short amount of time, yet still there is much work to be done. It is our good fortune that the Council enters its second decade in the capable hands of 2008 Chair Ray Kotcher, CEO of Ketchum, and a dedicated Board of Directors.

I greatly enjoyed my year as Council Chair. The opportunity to meet and work with the leaders in our business from around the country, from agencies of all sizes, has been extremely rewarding. It also confirmed what I had already believed: that this is an important industry organization, one that is well-positioned to help its members, and the industry at-large, reach even greater heights.

Marcia Silverman is the CEO of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and is the 2007 chair of the Council of Public Relations Firms.

The Council is dedicated to strengthening the recognition and role of PR firms in corporate strategy, business performance, and social education. It serves as an authoritative source of information and expert comment, and helps set standards for the PR industry. For more information, call 1-877-PRFIRMS or visit our Web site at www. prfirms.org.

This column is contributed and paid for by the Council of PR Firms.

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