Credit crunch may be good for PR

What does the credit crunch mean for PR people? We've already had a prediction, on the front page of PRWeek two weeks ago, that one in eight consultancies could disappear within two years.

Is this likely? Sure, budgets are tight. But in a tough marketplace, businesses know that effectively communicating with your target customers can make the difference between survival and, well, crunch.

Growing Business, a magazine for budding entrepreneurs, told its readers exactly that earlier this year. The magazine warned that taking the axe to the PR budget could be a false economy when the marketplace turns sour.

So what is the mood in the PR industry? Well, according to figures just released by the CIPR, it remains surprisingly bullish.

In the latest survey of senior PR practitioners, around 90 per cent said they expected their PR and comms staff to remain the same or grow in 2008. A full 41 per cent expected to increase their staff by anywhere between one and ten people.

The survey is not to be sniffed at. The CIPR President's Panel interviews senior PR people in the corporate, public and voluntary sectors. It gives a good snapshot of the mood out there.

There are other signs that all is not doom and gloom. There is no shortage of job ads around, and not just for the private sector. Public and voluntary sector organisations are all in the marketplace. Charities know as well as anyone that cutting through the noise of the competition is critical to keeping the donations flowing.

So, there is no sign yet of mass layoffs. In fact, star PR performers can look forward to even better times as the country goes through the economic doldrums. The CIPR President's Panel respondents said they would be prepared to pay higher salaries to keep hold of their best staff.

No less than 45 per cent of the panel said they would pay inflation-busting pay rises of more than three per cent - and a couple of panel members said they would even go beyond 20 per cent increases to retain the best in their teams.

It does not sound like it is time to worry about whether you will be able to keep paying the mortgage. It is time to sharpen those skills and get yourself noticed.

Paul Mylrea is director of comms at the Department for International Development.

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