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Housebuilding's 'big three' - Taylor Wimpey, Barratt Developments and Persimmon - have seen 80 per cent wiped off their share prices in the past year. Write-offs and job losses are being instigated and investor confidence is as low as it was in the 1990s when massive writedowns occurred. In one week the three firms announced 3,200 job cuts.

The media reaction?

Typically apocalyptic. 'Housebuilding woe' has become a common phrase and none of the three firms is being presented with anything like a positive outlook. The housing market is in trouble and the media are reflecting that, although housebuilders are avoiding some pressure by pointing to plummeting land prices. Taylor Wimpey's failure to find a reasonable cash injection to ease its woes saw finance director Peter Johnson step down and the company take a sizeable reputation hit. The media presented it as another blow for the housebuilding market.

Who are the PR players?

Taylor Wimpey is using Finsbury and retains other customer-focused agencies. This is reflected at Barratt, which uses Weber Shandwick Financial, and Persimmon, which uses M: Comms. All three have in-house teams.

Anything to learn here?

All three firms have been reasonably open about their troubles and City commentators suggest they are well-briefed. Having learned through failed rights issues that shareholders are not supporting them, perhaps the biggest challenge now is to lobby housing minister Caroline Flint and the Government to support Britain's ailing housebuilding industry.

80% - Amount wiped off share prices of the 'big three'.

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