A roundtable of PRCA members revealed how the PR world is already preparing for the effects of cuts to government bodies, which could mean less business for public sector-focused consultancies.
Met Police head of publicity Stephanie Day said that, with budgets shrinking, the Met would not be using agencies (see box).
Camden Council corporate comms manager Ashley Wilcox added that spend on publications would be cut, in favour of cheaper social media campaigns.
PR agencies working in the public sector may need to focus on evaluation, mentoring and diversification if they are to weather the coming round of cuts.
Lorna Gozzard, client service director at leading public sector agency Kindred, said her agency viewed diversification into advertising and social media as a means to protect itself. She said: 'We've moved to a multi-disciplinary approach. You need to take a more creative response to a brief. Employing seven agencies to do something might not be the answer.'
Quantum PR managing director Charlie Vavasour said that one route to keeping business could be to provide more of a mentoring service to clients, to help them to improve their own range of skills.
The view was seconded by MS&L head of corporate Paul Maguire: 'There may be some budget to share skills rather than taking the whole account and running with it.
'What we are suggesting is how we can support you to do your job better, with more project-driven support.'
Vavasour also pointed out that agencies could find a role for themselves acting as a conduit between different local public services groups as they increasingly work together on joint campaigns.
How I see it
STEPHANIE DAY, Head of publicity, Met Police
The corporate press office is in-house and during the cuts we will not be using agencies. We are in a situation where we will not be looking outside and, with budgets shrinking, why would we do it in the future? However, we do have advertising and direct marketing agencies.