From the editor-in-chief: Good times will roll only with the best talent in place

Having worked in and around the public relations business for close to 25 years now, I can sense - from the reports that follow - that the ­consultancy sector is going through a positive phase.

Unusually there is growth in pretty much every niche over the past year. Most of the big global networks are seeing decent growth, ­primarily from digital content plays, but many of the nationally focused and ­specialist shops are thriving too.  As ever, this is partly because we are experiencing an economic upswing in the Western world, while the East continues to grow apace, but it is also down to some encouraging structural trends.

The argument over whether reputation should be central to corporate strategy has been won largely, so organisations are indeed investing more in their ­comms and risk management. The thesis that comms specialists are best placed to play a major role in the management of digital and social media has also been heeded. So any consultancy that is ­providing a high quality service in either of these two areas is well set to succeed.

Again, as ever, there are fundamental challenges too. From the analysis in this report one can see these are principally twofold. The first is that the big growth area of outsourced digital and ­social content will be hotly contested with many other types of agency. And the second is the imbalance ­between the ­demand for, and ­supply of, the right talent required for any ambitious consultancy.

The answer to both of these conundrums must lie in the way the consultancies are run. Those that continue to produce creative and effective campaigns, hence ­improving their own reputations with clients and the media, will accordingly develop the agency brands necessary to attract interest from CMOs, CCOs and the best graduates. But they must also ensure their recruitment and training programmes are best in class to take full advantage; to develop a truly comprehensive digital comms offer.

Thank you to all the experts and consultancies that entered figures and contributed views to this report.  A thorough global analysis has now been added to the long-running Top 150 UK supplement, providing a definitive world view on the PR ­consultancy market.

This is a very good time to be in the communications business. As a ­professional you should be taken more seriously; the market is potentially more lucrative; and there are some ­intellectual and strategic challenges to keep us all interested. Long may that continue.

Danny Rogers, editor-in-chief

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