Survey shows optimism for social media, digital in 2009

NEW YORK: Despite the economic challenges toward the end of the year, PR firms saw growth in 2008, according to 60% of firm principals that responded to a survey from the Council of PR Firms.

NEW YORK: Despite the economic challenges toward the end of the year, PR firms saw growth in 2008, according to 60% of firm principals that responded to a survey from the Council of PR Firms. Yet, only 33% expect growth in 2009 and 39% expect to stay flat, according to the “Year-End Survey of PR principals,” which questioned 57 Council members and firm principals.

During 2008, the consumer products and services (21%) and healthcare (19%) sectors performed the best. Overall, agencies saw an average growth rate of 4%, down from 10% the year before.

Social media and digital content creation are two areas where PR professionals expect growth in the coming year, according to an additional survey from the Council, which questioned 285 PR practitioners from agencies and corporations, as well as solo practitioners. It found that 79% of respondents believe social media will be included in more PR campaigns, and 55% said digital content creation will also grow. Yet, a majority (59%) also believe that PR doesn't use tech enough in its campaigns.

“Social media is clearly a huge growth area, and firms have done a great job of building their capabilities [and] integrating social media with the other tools that are used in public relations,” said Kathy Cripps, president of the Council of PR Firms. “Those are the areas where clients see value, and PR firms are ready to support those programs.”

The survey also predicted that online media (25%) and issues and crisis management (21%) will best address clients' complex business challenges this year.

On the flip side, respondents said that special events (60%) and celebrity spokespeople (44%) are most likely to be cut from PR campaigns in 2009.

Kelton Research helped conduct both surveys.

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