Public affairs firms positive but expect more work done in-house, says Interel survey

Public affairs consultancies across the world remain very positive about the sector's prospects, but increasingly expect more PA work to be undertaken in-house, research shows.

An Interel survey of consultancies from 50 countries found 95 per cent expected the industry to grow in the next 12 months, the same proportion as in 2014. However, 78 per cent thought the amount of public affairs work done in-house would increase over the next 12 months, up from 68 per cent in 2014.

For 83 per cent of respondents, revenues increased during the past 12 months, and 58 per cent expected this trend to continue.

However, project-based work is increasing at the expense of retainers, and there is slightly less confidence around hiring. In 2014, 82 per cent planned to hire in the next 12 months. In 2015, this figure fell to 58 per cent.

Energy, health, technology and food and drink were highlighted as the highest growth areas for public affairs professionals in 2015.

The survey also suggests that public affairs figures are less concerned about governments impeding their work.

In 2014, 62 per cent thought governments were making it more difficult to do business. In 2015, this has fallen by almost half to 33 per cent. More than 90 per cent said business was more concerned about political risk than it was five years ago.

Elsewhere, 66 per cent believed the industry was regulated or self-regulated, up from 55 per cent last year, while voluntary declarations of clients on a register grew from eight per cent to 28 per cent.

Technological advances are also reflected in the findings, with 37 per cent of consultancies now employing a digital director in the core team, up from 33 per cent in 2014.

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