Opinion: Power shift to UK is credit to our sector

The British are very good at talking themselves down. This summer has seen the media revel in another mishandled national stadium project (PRWeek, news analysis, p16), and the PM is again being portrayed as US poodle-in-chief ('Yo Blair').

Refreshing then to see Ketchum UK CEO David Gallagher writing in our sister title, PRWeek US, about a tangible shift in power in the global PR industry, from New York to London. Gallagher is a Yank, of course, and his employer is proudly headquartered in the Big Apple, but he argues that ‘PR's centre of gravity has moved across to the Big Smoke'.

He is not alone. The PRCA's D-G Patrick Barrow and other agency heads report shifting revenues.

In this sense the PR industry is following the same pattern as the global financial services industry. Why is this happening? Gallagher identifies the UK's advantageous geographical position, which also overlaps with most major markets' time zones; he highlights London's thriving creative industries - from advertising to software; and he praises the PRCA for raising the consultancy standards of UK agencies.

But there is another factor at play here. Even American politicians admit the US has a tarnished image. Corporate scandals have been followed by accusations of imperialism, and American brands face a bigger reputation challenge than ever. One can see firms, from McDonald's to Coke, striving to appear less American in their global ads. They equally see the advantage of running global PR campaigns from London, which has two attributes: it is not America, and practitioners are not predominantly American.

Britain's prominence as a global gateway for those looking for a fast track into local markets is reflected by a consultancy sector, which PRWeek and Keynote agree is now worth over £800m per annum.

So as it's August, let's take a break from self-flagellation for a while - and laud the industry's achievements while we can.


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