The global economic slowdown has given the PR industry a tough couple of years in the most mature markets.
There is still growth to be found in markets such as the UK and the US by expanding existing client briefs and getting a larger slice of marketing budgets through digital work, but agencies are sensibly turning their attention to more fertile markets around the world.
Relative growth figures show why PR agencies are going in search of overseas business. In 2010, Edelman's organic revenue growth for its London office, eliminating the impact of currency changes, was 12 per cent. This compares with India (44), Russia (31), Brazil (24) and China (20).
The BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have long been hailed as the rising economic powers, with China at the top of the pile. These are a major focus for the larger multinational agencies and PRWeek examines each region overleaf.
Philippe Pendaries, Burson-Marsteller's chairman, design, digital and brands practice, says his agency is expecting to maintain the same double-digit growth figures in Russia, India and China that it has achieved in recent years: 'Asia presents the best opportunities for growth. Many Asian companies are expanding internationally and are addressing new markets and stakeholders. We can provide support.'
But there has also been much discussion of the N11 markets (Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Turkey, and Vietnam) and the CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa). These are all ones to watch. Fleishman-Hillard's president and CEO Dave Senay says: 'Based on a survey of business leaders our firm just released jointly with the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, there's considerable potential in this newer set of emerging markets.'
HOW I SEE IT - GROWTH OUTSIDE THE BRICS - Sally Costerton, CEO EMEA, Hill & Knowlton
Beyond the BRICs, the Middle East, Africa and central & Eastern Europe regions present enormous growth opportunities. Africa arguably represents the world's last true emerging market opportunity.
The continent's current population stands at just over one billion. By 2020, it is predicted to rise to more than 1.27 billion - nearly twice that of Europe's. Add to that a recent projection from McKinsey that more than 50 per cent of African households will have discretionary spending power by 2020, and the continent's promise becomes clear.
The Middle East has long been an important emerging market for PR and continues to present some of the greatest opportunities for the industry as the region's corporations seek to expand.
Central & Eastern Europe is also set to present major growth opportunities, as capital inflows into the region look set to soar in the coming two years. The Institute of International Finance recently predicted that investment into the region would grow from $154m to $274m in 2012 - overtaking investment into Latin America.
THE EXPANDING MARKETS
ONES TO WATCH
Source: senior agency heads