From the Editor - Be decisive but take a long-term view

So, it is finally happening. The cuts have started in earnest. And they emerge as a steady trickle of nasty news. Ten jobs here, ten per cent redundancies there, freelance freezes become de rigeur.

Danny Rogers
Danny Rogers

And that is the frustrating nature of these things. It feels piecemeal rather than strategic and cohesive. Of course for the organisations concerned it is a determined move. This week WPP - owner of Burson-Marsteller, Hill & Knowlton, Ogilvy, Cohn & Wolfe and much more - took action in terms of a headcount and freelance freeze. Sir Martin Sorrell has clearly decided that it is best to slash costs ahead of the revenue curve.

But for other companies, one can almost hear those escalating conversations between senior and middle management about budgets.

We all know 2009 is going to be a grind, but the best way to approach this must be to take the tough strategic decisions early.

The good news is that most PR -and, indeed, media - firms are pretty lean operations these days. They have learned the lessons of previous downturns, are better managed and are keen to hang on to their talented staff, who cost so much to recruit in the first place.

They are equally aware of the underlying structural change that has been taking place for a decade; the trend towards lower-cost base digital content; the decreasing reliance on advertising-based models; and demands for flexible working practices.

So hopefully this recession will accelerate the structural change rather than returning to the old hire-then-fire, invest-then-cut treadmill that many of us have seen before.

This should be a time for some serious soul-searching about the way our businesses are structured and a constructive conversation among the most capable of our staff and stakeholders.

Margins may take a hit, but that could be an opportunity for investment that pays dividends in a few years.

The creative industries in the UK are the shining white light, now bonus-hungry bankers have been discredited. Let's prove our innovation by finding the right solutions. In this way we can lead the world rather than sinking into gloom.

danny.rogers@haymarket.com.

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