Focus On: Portugal

Despite a severe economic crisis, the PR industry in Portugal has seen major growth in the past two years.

Portugal's capital: Lisbon
Portugal's capital: Lisbon

Considering the state of Portugal’s economy, the comms industry appears to be in a buoyant state.

The ICCO World Report 2010 reported revenue growth of 8% between 2008 and 2009 and predicted growth of between 10 and 20% for 2009 – 2010. This is considerably higher than many other markets within Europe.

Fee income was estimated at €40m, based on the analysis of 65% of the market by the ICCO.

Nuno Mendao, MD of Edelman-owned GCI, notes: ‘In spite of the 2009 Portuguese recessive economic environment and the following contraction of the advertising sector and other marketing industries, the PR sector presented a positive growth.

‘The industry needs to take advantage of the added value ladder, not by delivering more tactical client service but by consolidating and expanding the strategic consultancy position.’

LPM Comunicacao marketing and communications director Joana Machado adds: ‘Each year, more and more companies, public organisations, NGOs, and so on recognise the need and advantages of having a PR agency.

‘The market is increasingly demanding and sophisticated.’



The ICCO reports that the key growth areas for Portugal’s PR sector lie in corporate/strategy and digital/new media. The country’s growth industries are energy and healthcare, with finance and leisure being cited as areas with the least growth potential.

The success of the sector’s use of digital media in Portugal shows how much impact the medium can command, according to Lansons affiliate Inforpress Grupo country manager, Ana Margarida Ximenes.

She says: ‘The social media age has demonstrated just how much an organisation’s brand and reputation can be influenced, both positively and negatively, by the service it delivers to consumers.

‘All of the PR campaigns include digital media and most of the crisis situations begin on the web.’

Social media is also a dominant force for communications professionals. NextPower Comunicacao senior consultant Rodrigo Saraiva believes that if you are not involved, then you are missing out.

He explains: ‘In Portugal the blogosphere is quite influential politically and there are a lot of thematic areas with charismatic bloggers.

‘In social networks, Facebook is growing every day, if you are not on Facebook, you are out! Twitter also has good numbers.’

Key broadcast media channels include; state-owned RTP, and privately-owned SIC and TVI.

The leading daily newspapers are; Publico and Diario de Noticas, with business titles Diario Economico, Jornal de Negocios and Exame also widely read.

The leading radio station is TSF.


Bellwether brands

National brands play a key role in the economy. Heritage beer brands SuperBock and Sagres sit alongside supermarket chains Pingo Doce, Continente, Model, Pao de Acucar and Lidl within the consumer space.

TMN and Optimus, two of the main mobile service providers, are Portuguese, the former being owned by the biggest communications firm in the country, PT.

The banks are also still hitting back hard but Saraiva points out: ‘Banks are still heavyweight but they are the ones facing the biggest reputational challenges.’

Major brands such as Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Vodafone and Unilever also hold a firm footing in the market.



The agency market in Portugal is very nationally focused. Major global agencies operating in the space are fairly limited but include Hill & Knowlton and Porter Novelli, with Edelman owning local agency GCI.

H&K Portugal general manager, Teresa Figueira says: ‘Local agencies lead the market. Apart from H&K and Porter Novelli, most of the international networks are not present in Portugal.

‘Some are represented through local associates but don’t have brand exposure.’

Business publication Briefing cited LPM as the main market player, with Edelman-owned GCI and CV&A trailing behind. LPM employs 100 staff and has 80 retained clients, managing over 150 communications projects on a permanent basis, with a client roster including Unilever, Nike, McDonald’s and Pfizer. The agency is independent.

Porter Novelli appeared ninth on the table, in terms of its revenue.

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