Editorial: Managing growth in the PR business

If a week is a long time in politics, six weeks is an eternity.

If a week is a long time in politics, six weeks is an eternity.



After an election campaign of such mind numbing length one could be

forgiven if the main emotion felt on waking up on 2 May was relief that

it’s all over.



As far as business in concerned, the Labour ’time for a change’ message

had to be carefully portrayed as a reassuring ’time for no change’. For

although the Tory slogan ’Britain is booming, don’t let Labour blow it’

sounded increasingly desperate as polling day approached, the first part

of it at least is supported by the evidence of renewed growth - and the

PR sector is no exception.



After two years of 15 per cent growth, the Top 150 PR consultancies

leapt forward by 21 per cent in 1996. Agencies across the board did

well, but notably this year the efforts made by the big

multi-disciplined agencies to make themselves more competitive with

specialists appears to have paid off. They were also helped by a steady

increase in global and multinational business.



But while 1996 was a year of tremendous growth across the board, the

first quarter of 1997 has been flatter. Two things appear to be holding

the market back. Anecdotal evidence suggests that clients have been

slightly more cautious in their spending during the run-up to the

election. Nevertheless, the prospect of a Labour Government has not been

as unnerving to business as the Conservatives would have liked us to

believe.



Far more significant has been the immense difficulty agencies have found

in trying to recruit good staff to handle the increased amount of

business around. That will remain the biggest challenge facing

consultancies over the months ahead.



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