Wednesday, December 09, 2009

PR agencies gear up for growth: Survey

Public relations consultancies are gearing up for robust growth in the years to come. Increasing profits and headcounts are expected in 2010.

Top global PR consultancy heads are convinced the industry has turned the corner, reports Gemma O'Reilly in PRWeek. “The latest PRCA PR Leaders' Panel showed confidence returning to the PR market after a troubled 2009,” according to the report. “Some 84 per cent of agency heads expected an increase in staff numbers, while 88 per cent predicted higher turnover and 82 per cent expected more new business.”

Major marcoms groups WPP, Omnicom and Interpublic all recently reported third-quarter year-on-year revenue drops in their PR divisions. But steep share price rises over the year, especially for the PR-centric groups, indicate that investors retain confidence in the industry. Several experts share their views:

Media analyst Jonathan Barrett at Singer Capital Markets: Share price improvements have been driven by the thought that they are not heading into the abyss like last year. Conditions remain uncertain but people are generally confident.

Hill & Knowlton Global Chairman and CEO Paul Taaffe: 2009 had been a challenging year, but we are optimistic about 2010. Recovery will take place at different speeds across different geographies and sectors. Brand and reputation will be increasingly influenced by online consumers, so we expect a continuing shift in marketing spend from traditional advertising into digital and PR.

Edelman President and CEO Richard Edelman: This is the first recession in which PR outperformed advertising. We are now seen as a critical asset in re-establishing trust in business. 2010 will see more global consolidation such as Ketchum Pleon or MS&L and Publicis.

Weber Shandwick Global CEO Harris Diamond: This year was better than expected. Our largest clients helped us because they did not cut back like they have in previous recessions. We are expecting a good year in technology, consumer and healthcare. We expect business to improve in 2010.


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