Danny Rogers: The industry needs injection of confidence

The quarterly Bellwether Report, released this week, simply confirmed what many of us suspected.

Danny Rogers
Danny Rogers

Recovery in the marketing services business at the end of Q3 was looking sluggish at best. A 0.5 per cent upward revision, on average, of budgets across all services was hardly cause for ordering in the Krug and finally whisking the staff off to St Moritz.

The 'all other' category, under which PR unfortunately falls - I have long complained to Bellwether that PR deserves its own category - actually saw a downward revision on average of 3.6 per cent. But, as one could often argue, 'all other' may be dragged down by the events element of the category.

Anecdotally, the sluggish recovery rings true. While most comms budgets are not being slashed, there is little appetite for risk across the marcoms world. Core programmes are carrying on, but clients are wary of committing to many innovative projects. It is not necessarily that profitability is falling in the corporate world - indeed the FTSE 100 was edging towards 6,000 points at the time of writing - but there is little robust confidence, either in the markets or around the boardroom table.

At the time of writing, the Comprehensive Spending Review had yet to be revealed, but the sheer anticipation of this has been depressing confidence. With cuts dominating the media narrative and job security a worry for many, genuine enterprise is understandably thin on the ground.

This climate adversely affects a PR industry characterised by enterprising small businesses and departments that thrive on experimentation and creativity.

Although many PR professionals are quite rightly improving their measurement and justification of budgets, the marketing element of comms requires a certain amount of innovation and risk-taking.

It is ironic that a Government from which the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have spent time as comms professionals is doing so little to encourage the comms profession.

This not only affects public sector comms workers who see their departments being savaged, but private sector professionals who need to believe in sustained business growth.

Let's hope that with the CSR announcement out of the way, we will now hear more vision and optimism emanating from Downing Street. The UK's valuable creative industries not only require tangible support and investment, they require a sense of confidence in the future.

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