LEADER: Hold firm against the doom merchants

We end this year in a rather uncertain place...

LEADER: Hold firm against the doom merchants

If one looks at the business pages this week, it’s all pretty grim. The terms recession, downturn and crunch feature in almost every story. Even on the news pages, politicians are talking of ways to prop up families about to be hit by financial crisis.

Walk out on the streets of London and it is a very different story. Luxury goods are flying off the shelves (there have been no retailer profits warnings of note) and restaurants are full.

Have we all turned into mini-Neros, playing our fiddles while our economy smoulders? Are we like the Cuban elite at the end of 1958, partying while all around us begins to crumble?

We must avoid talking ourselves into a recession. Confidence remains high among consumers and there is little evidence the foundations of the PR industry are shaky.

Let’s say it. 2007 has been generally great. Growth in PR spend is in double-figures, far outstripping that of the advertising industry once again. Moreover there is a new, quiet, self-belief among senior practitioners. Whatever happens to the economy, they feel their place in the world is more proven and more secure.

Perhaps the threats to industry success in 2008 are not economic. They may come in the form of creeping regulation: on lobbying; on City PR; or on marketing to children. Or they may come from other disciplines, which are enviously eyeing up PR’s success in intelligent digital comms and risk management strategies.

The fiercely competitive UK media have a tendency to look to the next big story, which is rarely positive. Any sign of weakness, or downturn, will be seized upon.

That is why the PR industry must be stronger and more assured going into 2008. It must remain the bright light amid the growing murkiness.

The next issue of PRWeek is out on 11 January. Have a very happy Christmas.

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