LEADER: See the silver lining to some dark skies

Just before Christmas this column - headlined 'hold firm against the doom merchants' - urged positivity despite the negative indicators.

Danny Rogers, Editor, <em>PRWeek</em>
Danny Rogers, Editor, PRWeek

Now, in this Easter week, we find ourselves in a darker place. As far as we know the UK is not in recession, but there were some worrying developments this week; the biggest falls in Sterling, and the highest rate of business failure, since 1992.

And yet the bosses of the big UK PR agency groups - Chime, Huntsworth et al - remain steadfastly upbeat. Is this classic PR optimism, defying reality?

Lords Bell and Chadlington - respective principals of the two groups - are surely old and (metaphorically) ugly enough to dispense with such games.

Indeed, Chadlington sees it as a personal challenge to demonstrate the strength of public relations, and his group specifically, in a difficult market. Bell similarly is enjoying bucking the trend in the global financial markets. Neither group is heavily reliant on PR surrounding M&A activity, which helps.

But even City shops such as FD are not sounding gloomy. It could be that the comms industry is now so broadly based that when certain areas of business suffer, other opportunities present themselves. For example, while IPO fever grinds to a halt, consultancies can help clients restore confidence among nervous shareholders, suppliers and staff.

Instead, the biggest danger for the industry is a more intangible fear and indecisiveness. Headhunters are noticeably less bullish. One firm, PR Recruitment, is even offering full money-back guarantees if placed candidates do not work out within three months.

It is an attempt to persuade employers to make decisions that they would otherwise put off.

Indecision is worrying because the current credit crunch is clearly going to persist into 2009.

Yes, the mood may look darker today, but the message must be the same: keep moving confidently forward.

Email: danny.rogers@haymarket.com  

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