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
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.