Experts disagree on impact of recession

Senior PR professionals have expressed differing views on the extent to which public sector PR will be hit by predictions of a recession.

Councils may target the jobless with training schemes
Councils may target the jobless with training schemes

The Central Office of Information's director of news and PR, Neil Martinson, played down the idea of any effects on central government PR. He insisted that major behavioural change campaigns such as those on climate change and obesity would not be affected.

This view was echoed by 3 Monkeys' head of consultancy Ali Gee. She admitted that budgets were becoming 'very lean', but added that she had not seen any difference in the number of briefs being offered out of the public sector. However, she said agencies would need to take into account the changing agenda when developing campaigns and pitches.

'The way we try to get news for our public sector clients has to reflect the changing economic situation,' said Gee. 'You need to demonstrate why they need to change behaviour. For instance, in a campaign to reduce waste, you need to show how much money people can save by not wasting food.'

Gee predicted there would also be a growing focus on ROI in public sector briefs.

Meanwhile, Westminster City Council comms director and LGComms secretary Alex Aiken predicted that local government would have to change its focus significantly over the next 12 months.

'During the period of growth, local authorities were able to focus on promoting social services - and business took care of itself. Now we are going to have to present ourselves to business more, to fight for the pool of investment,' said Aiken.

As budgets came under greater pressure, comms departments would have to show value by responding to the new agenda, he said.

'For instance, you'd expect more people will be going to loan sharks. So local authorities should be making people aware of their rights and of Citizens Advice.'

Training schemes would also be promoted as councils targeted the jobless, he added.

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