UK PR chiefs oppose Brexit and most fear it will damage sector, says PRWeek survey

Nearly eight in 10 UK PR chiefs want the UK to stay in the EU, and more than half believe Brexit would have a negative impact on the UK PR industry, new research from PRWeek has found.

The big vote: what impact will Brexit have on the UK PR sector? (pic credit: Stockbyte)
The big vote: what impact will Brexit have on the UK PR sector? (pic credit: Stockbyte)

Ahead of the referendum on 23 June, PRWeek surveyed members of its UK Power Book - primarily PR agency bosses and comms directors - on their views on the prospect of Britain leaving the EU. Around 100 responses were given.

Asked if they were personally in favour of leaving the EU, 79 per cent said they were not, while 13 per cent supported Brexit and eight per cent were undecided.

There was a less overwhelming consensus about the impact on the PR sector. While 53 per cent believed a UK withdrawal from the EU would have a negative impact on the industry, a large minority – 37 per cent – thought the impact would be broadly neutral.

Molly Aldridge, CEO of M&C Saatchi PR, said: "Our clients increasingly want a single global focus from their PR agency, and leaving the EU would see us siloed and unable to operate with as much fluidity in Europe."

But Mark Gallagher, founder and senior partner at Pagefield, said: "The UK's membership of the European Union is a disaster for us - and for them... time to Leave."

And as campaigning from both sides of the debate steps up with fewer than 100 days to go until the referendum, almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of PR chiefs said the campaign to stay in the EU has been the stronger of the two.

Interestingly, only 20 per cent of respondents said their company had taken a position on the issue, and none of those said their firm had taken a pro-Brexit stance.

One anonymous agency respondent said: "Our job is to advise clients on the issues, not tell them what we think personally."

However, Ryanair is one company that is publicly calling on voters to reject Brexit. The firm's head of PR Robin Kiely said: "Staying in Europe will mean stronger economic growth, more tourism and more jobs for young people."

PRWeek will be publishing more results from its survey as part of a special edition on the EU referendum in April.

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