COMMENT: Editorial; A year of taking PR seriously

The PR industry ends 1996 in much the same cautiously optimistic mood in which it started. In most sectors, expectations of growth were easily exceeded, and the only problem lay in finding staff to cope with the extra activity. But the memory of recession has left the PR industry wary; and with the election looming, higher interest rates are on the cards, clients are hedging their bets, and caution is once again the watchword.

The PR industry ends 1996 in much the same cautiously optimistic mood in

which it started. In most sectors, expectations of growth were easily

exceeded, and the only problem lay in finding staff to cope with the

extra activity. But the memory of recession has left the PR industry

wary; and with the election looming, higher interest rates are on the

cards, clients are hedging their bets, and caution is once again the

watchword.



In the wider business world, it was a year in which companies appeared

to be taking the management of their reputations more seriously. A spate

of high profile corporate blunders helped to concentrate the minds of

business leaders wonderfully on the value of taking public relations

advice at an early stage. Some of them even acted on it.



Even more encouragingly, giants like BT recognised that active efforts

to enhance reputation, through initiatives like its newly announced

social audit, can have real business benefits. BT chairman Sir Iain

Vallance summed up the sudden shaft of light which appears to have

finally penetrated management consciousness. ‘A good reputation is a

real asset of a business; it can improve a company’s competitiveness,

with all the advantages that can bring,’ he said. ‘So it is not for

altruistic reasons alone that we have been active in these areas. It

makes sound business sense.’



Amen to that.



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