Government accused of squeezing out smaller PR consultancies

The Government's new comms roster could stifle creativity and cut out smaller agencies, comms figures have warned.

PRWeek TV: Kindred's Lorna Gozzard and Claremont's Simon Francis
PRWeek TV: Kindred's Lorna Gozzard and Claremont's Simon Francis

In this week’s PRWeek podcast, senior public sector PROs highlighted the potential pitfalls around the Government’s post COI comms set-up, a major part of which kicked off last week.

Lorna Gozzard, director at Kindred, and Simon Francis, director at Claremont Communications, debated the issue as part of a look at the public sector following the release of PRWeek’s league table on top 25 performing agencies.

Francis compared the old COI roster, which had 92 agencies, with the first of two new frameworks, which is worth up to £40m in PR terms over four years and has space for six agencies.

He said the limited space meant there was a danger work might only be available for the biggest agencies, which threatened to ‘hoover up’ profits.

‘The Government is encouraging larger agencies to partner with smaller agencies, but the reality is in that unless you’re a specialist supplier to a big agency, anything that agencies do will just be about putting bid candy into their applications.

‘The Government has to watch out for that, and if it is serious about getting smaller and medium-sized business as part of the roster, it has to specify that.’

Meanwhile, Gozzard felt that having a small number of agencies on the roster threatened to limit choice for clients.

‘Everyone becomes used to working in a certain way and it can mean that clients aren’t always challenged,’ she said, adding it could impact on creativity.

Looking at trends in the public sector beyond the new frameworks, the PROs also saw a growth in smaller work, with integrated campaigns on the rise.

To watch the full podcast, click here.

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