EDITORIAL: It's a question of quiet confidence

So WPP still hasn't scaled the other side of Sir Martin Sorrell's famous bathtub. In fact the marketing services group's recently announced figures indicate that it is still stuck in one of the marketing guru's metaphorical corrugations.

An eight per cent decline in PR revenues makes for uncomfortable reading, but as a whole the industry remains surprisingly unbowed. In fact, last week's Economic Barometer revealed a welcome optimism among PROs regarding profitability and recruitment. And despite the overall gloom of the most recent WPP prognosis, Sorrell continues to vocalise his continuing belief in the resilience of the PR sector.

Certainly Sorrell's prediction that PR would be hardest hit by the downturn proved correct, (PRWeek, 21 June) but he still says he is confident that PR will also be the first sector to recover.

Despite the shock downturn in consumer confidence in the US this week, Sorrell, like other marketing service heads such as Weber Shandwick supremo Harris Diamond, believes that much of this recovery will come from the marcoms area. Hence, while his continued confidence in PR should help to buoy industry optimism, it is consumer confidence as the war drums sound ever louder that will provide the real barometer.

And here unfortunately we enter into the great unknown where media analysts and even Sorrell fear to tred. As preparations for war are made, the industry can but play a painful waiting game.

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