Industry profitability might be down, but value is up

Just last week a report found that agency profitability is falling, and we know that in-house teams are suffering cutbacks as well.

Just last week a report found that agency profitability is falling, and we know that in-house teams are suffering cutbacks as well. However, the industry remains vibrant as companies continue to realize the value of communications, and invest in it.

This week alone, PRWeek reported on major companies like Wal-Mart and Mastercard hiring agencies for new tasks, and the American Chemistry Council hired on new PR help for a multimillion-dollar overhaul of its communications, which will be targeted at legislators. And new campaigns are happening from Wall Street to beer to travel.

All of this begets a healthy industry despite the revenue declines expected this year and possibly in 2010, compared to the more flush recent years. Of course competition is fierce among colleagues in PR but also in terms of the overall spend. The industry should not fear speaking up for itself in order to maintain this momentum in a difficult economic environment where chief executives - clients and in-house - are looking for places to trim anything that appears ineffective or even dull.

Luxury retailer Coach is not known for talking about its marketing and PR, but earlier this week it accompanied a campaign for the launch of a new line with details on the PR and marketing going into it. The more recession-friendly pricing caught one analyst's eye, but he also praised the communications-heavy marketing campaign.

“While Poppy doesn't officially launch until Friday, June 26th, the collection has already generated a lot of media and customer buzz, thanks to smart marketing (bus ads, blogging, press interviews highlighting the Poppy strategy) and the fact that customers can pre-order the collection in stores and have it shipped free to their homes," Todd Slater of Lazard Capital Markets wrote, according to the AP.

Those are results that Coach's PR department can champion. Smart, creative efforts with demonstrable results will continue to hold the industry up.

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