Political stability and a retail price war saw the Italian PR market undergo a re-birth

Political stability and a retail price war saw the Italian PR market

undergo a re-birth

Last year was the year the Italian PR market finally emerged from the

recession of the early 1990s. Although ASSOREL, the Italian PR

association, does not publish an annual ranking of agencies according to

fee income, unofficial figures obtained by PR Week show that revenue

from its 23 members grew by around five per cent last year to L60

billion (pounds 25 million).

The improved financial outlook was reflected in a growing confidence

among international PR firms about the potential of the Italian PR

market. Both Fleishman Hillard and Cohn and Wolfe set up their first

branches in Milan at the start of 1996 under the respective direction of

former Shandwick director Patrizia Antonicelli and Burson-Marsteller

general manager Franco Guzzi. Other agencies, including the UK’s Text

100, are also considering opening their own offices in Italy.

According to Guzzi there were main two reasons for the PR renaissance: a

sustained period of political stability under Lamberto Dini’s

technocratic government and the outbreak of a price war in the retail

sector. ‘In 1995 a lot of companies began to understand that advertising

was not enough and that they needed to find other solutions to compete

with discount stores,’ he says. ‘Therefore they moved their

communications investment into PR. And if the market leaders do that

then other companies follow.’

Financial public relations also proved a boom area. Frederico Steiner,

general director of Barabino e Partners, points to the effects of the

1994 Tremonti Law which offered tax breaks and other incentives for

companies prepared to float on the stock market. A flood of medium sized

firms with little experience of the financial markets took up the offer

and found themselves in need of sound PR advice.

‘Companies realised the importance of dealing with the media in a

professional way and needed corporate positioning and investor relations

support,’ says Steiner. Barabino e Partners itself picked up business

from medical technology firm Esanote, machine tool manufacturer

Gildemeister Italiana and AMGA Genoa, the municipally-owned gas and

water supplier, to name just three. As firms which applied for listings

last year start to go public in 1996 that trend is likely to continue.

Steiner adds that the demand for corporate communications was

particularly strong from companies in the north-east of Italy,

especially the Veneto, where numerous glass manufacturers, textile

producers and fashion houses are based. PR business also grew in Rome,

which was home for most of the state-owned companies that were

privatised in the last year. Burson-Marsteller clinched the public

relations contracts for the two major privatisations of 1995 - ENI, the

oil, gas and chemicals combine, and electricity utility ENEL.

Milan remains the nerve centre of public relations in Italy. Even

company giants like Fiat, Olivetti and Martini which have their

headquarters in and around Turin maintain their PR advisers in the

Lombard capital. Rome, although important for lobbying, retains its

branch office status.

Hi-tech again proved to be a growth area last year, with international

agencies like Edelman expanding their IT divisions. Diego Biasi, general

manager at Business Press, says that Italian consultancies, like their

UK counterparts, had to concentrate more on the needs of consumers.

‘There has been more of a focus on end-users rather than just company

requirements,’ he says. ‘The market is moving towards the consumer and

agencies are having to adapt to that too.’ More agencies opened web

sites last year on the Internet and Business Press, which counts Digital

Equipment and Hitachi among its clients, started a service giving advice

to organisations on the design and content of web sites.

‘In terms of using new technologies, Italy is really very developed,’

says Tomaso Galli, director of Ketchum Europe. ‘The way media relations

are handled is not too far from the way it is done in the UK. For many

companies PR is becoming more of a management function integrated with

other disciplines.’

Galli, who joined Ketchum’s European headquarters in London last year

from its Milan office, also thinks that internal communications emerged

as an important discipline in its own right. ‘Italian companies are

changing and want to involve people more, so communications is important

to make that happen,’ he explains. ‘In 1995 after the recession there

were growing links with foreign companies and it forced Italian

businesses to adapt to new trends. There are still a lot of family

businesses but they are more often run by people with an MBA from

Harvard who bring a different approach.’


Euro Consultancies: Italy (part one)


Rank  Company                       Fee income (pounds)     Location

                                     95           94

 1    Barabino e Partners         3,060,500    2,356,000    Milan

 2    Burson Marsteller Italy     3,057,000    2,836,000    Milan

 3    Hill & Knowlton             2,170,000    1,805,000    Milan

 4    Shandwick Italia            1,956,000            *    Milan

 5    Edelman Gruppo d’           1,656,011            *    Milan

 6    Mavellia Relazioni Pub      1,531,000    1,234,525    Milan

 7    Ketchum PR                  1,338,000      825,000    Milan

 8    Key Communications          1,200,000            *    Rome

 9    GCI Chiappe Bellodi         1,130,000    1,230,000    Milan

10    Gaia                        1,100,000      930,000    Rome

11    Image Time                  1,095,000      858,000    Milan

12    Noesis                        942,800      670,000    Milan

13    EGG                           741,000      667,000    Milan

14    I-Mage                        673,000      350,000    Rome

15    Business Press                550,000      442,307    Milan

16    Report                        504,000      378,000    Milan

17    Rowland                       455,570            *    Milan

18    Agenpress                     454,000      386,000    Milan

19    SPC-Pattern                   375,991      353,239    Milan

20    SIPR                          240,135      441,978    Rome

*Figures not available



Euro Consultancies: Italy (part two)


Rank  Company                         Status

 1    Barabino e Partners             Entente member

 2    Burson Marsteller Italy         B-M subsidiary

 3    Hill & Knowlton                 H&K subsidiary

 4    Shandwick Italia                Shandwick subsidiary

 5    Edelman Gruppo d’               Edelman network mbr

 6    Mavellia Relazioni Pub          MSL network member

 7    Ketchum PR                      Ketchum subsidiary

 8    Key Communications              Trimedia/Key Comms mbr

 9    GCI Chiappe Bellodi             GCI subsidiary

10    Gaia                            Envirocomm member

11    Image Time                      EuroPlus member

12    Noesis                          Euro PR member

13    EGG                             Grayling associate

14    I-Mage                          Independent

15    Business Press                  Globalink member

16    Report                          Comms Int member

17    Rowland                         Rowland Worldwide subs

18    Agenpress                       Euro RSCG subsidiary

19    SPC-Pattern                     Charles Barker IC mbr

20    SIPR                            Pinnacle mbr

*Figures not available


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