The PR industry has always been lacking in statistics, and has made a business out of ’touchy-feely stuff.’
The PR industry has always been lacking in statistics, and has made
a business out of ’touchy-feely stuff.’
The Harris/Impulse survey is therefore a welcome respite. To know that
agency work has grown by 70% since last year is vital from two points of
view: first, it reveals that the growth of agency business has not come
at the expense of corporate in-house budgets, which remained more or
less static; second, it confirms that the extra work in the industry is
coming not just from dot-com startups, but across the board - which has
got to be good news for those of you bored with all the media coverage
in this area.
One can guarantee two things: first that agencies will be furiously
extrapolating the data to find the good news - ’we may only be 12th in
national awareness, but in terms of quality we’re second in Washington,
third equally in business-to-business, and we’re sixth on everyone’s
pitch lists.’ Second, that the 12 agencies who take part in
supplementary - and secret - benchmarking analysis of their own
performance will be furiously trying to work out who’s who and why they
scored so highly.
How seriously should these awareness and quality ratings be taken? While
one finds oneself nodding in agreement at many of the findings, there
are clearly anomalies. For example, is Copithorne & Bellows really the
equal-best agency by quality reputation?
All the same, the results will provide many agencies with an indication
of how hard it is to register in the consciousness of busy corporate and
marketing professionals, and suggests that some companies - even
successful ones who’ve enjoyed stellar years, like Ketchum and BSMG -
have much to do by way of PR for themselves if they are to get on those
short lists automatically.
Perhaps most interesting of all, though, were the new questions about
the Internet. On the one hand, the survey shows that in more cases, the
Web is used as a means of communication with customers (63%) than it is
for advertising products (53%) or selling products directly/through
That’s the good news for PR agencies who are looking to muscle in on web
work. The bad news is that while advertising agencies (18%) are used
little more than PR firms (16%) in the creation of web sites, web
development firms are actually dominating (66%) far more than they
should. PR firms should be having more of a say in the creation of
What the survey won’t tell you, however, is who’s responsible for
maintaining and updating the content. These and other important
questions will be answered in our own corporate survey, the results of
which will be published in October.
PR isn’t so easy after all
Everyone in PR - and journalism - should read the story about Marc Allan
and his switch from reporter to public relations pro (see analysis,
All journalists assume that PR is easy, but as Allan found, even with a
great story and the inside track, it’s not a piece of cake.
The experience also brought home to Allan how rude and unreasonably
arrogant journalists can be. Enjoy.