PRWeek asked the chief executives of the major holding companies how their businesses are holding up in an age of unprecedented political uncertainty. Their responses, published in the 2017 Agency Business Report, are below.
"Ever since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, corporate animal spirits have dimmed. The global economy seems to be trapped in a world of perpetually sluggish growth, businesses have lowered their horizons, and both boards and investors are shy of taking risks. Short-term fixes such as cost-cutting are prioritized over long-term investment and geopolitical issues only add to the uncertainty. Power has shifted from marketing departments to finance and procurement, which has implications for marketing services companies."
WPP CEO Martin Sorrell
"There is no question we have entered a next normal. It is an age where we are bombarded by news, fake news, alternative news and facts, as well as biased spin presented as facts. Yet we have clients selling service and products in categories as diverse as big pharma and tourism, office services and automobiles, and we need to manage their communications in real time, drawing from all of their universes."
Havas chairman and CEO Yannick Bollore
"We believe the role of PR will continue to rise in light of these political and economic changes as clients will need thoughtful and strategic counsel from our specialized experts. In a world more polarized than ever before, the answer is not less communication, but more. There is a greater opportunity to increase the dialogue in order to close these gaps, and PR is central to this solution."
Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy
"Our industry has adapted to "change" or "uncertainty" since the beginning of time. Today, we are hearing questions such as, "What do we do if the president tweets about us?" Our agencies have expert counselors at the ready who are helping clients work through these scenarios and, as importantly, anticipate what’s coming next."
Omnicom Group CEO John Wren
"We saw good growth in our corporate reputation and public affairs practices in 2016. Companies facing uncertainty often turn to PR firms to develop preparedness strategies, and we anticipate that will continue in 2017."
Interpublic Group Chairman and CEO Michael Roth