Don’t Panic

Recent financial results from marcom giants such as WPP, Omnicom and Publicis, have put the PR industry in a panic stricken spin.  In their first quarter results for 2009 these PR giants have reported how PR spend is suffering more than advertising.  All of a sudden, there is speculation that advertising spends have bottomed out and will return while the PR industry is set for a crash, but don’t panic!
Let’s face it the rest of this year is going to be grim for the whole spectrum of the marketing and communications sector. The business environment will be more difficult, there are going to be decreases in client income and a long slow grind to sign up new clients.  Life will be tough. 

Value in PR 

I believe a great deal of advertising in the traditional media of newspapers, magazines and TV is set to go south.  This is because this recession has forced clients to demand more value for their money.  They need to see clear outcomes.  The new language is ‘measurable’, ‘deliverables’ and ‘results’.  Newspapers, magazines and TV find these requests tricky to answer. However,  PR and online advertising are better placed to meet these demands.
Online advertising can track responses through users and click through.  PR can demonstrate how a target audience responds and interacts through a specific campaign. The rise of the Internet has further enabled PR campaigns to reach mass audiences and engage with them in a completely new way.
Of course there will always be TV, newspapers and magazines and the good ones will do better than the weaker ones but on the whole, this recession will have a devastating effect on this sector as it will transform the client’s view of how they deliver.
According to the Publishers Information Bureau, magazine advertising dropped by 20 per cent in the first quarter of 2009.

Recently,  Johnston Press has reported their advertising revenues are down 34 per cent year on year.  Trinity Mirror’s ad revenues have dropped by 30 per cent year on year for the first 17 weeks of this year.  ITV has just reported how advertising revenues have fallen by 15 per cent year on year for the first three months of this year and are likely to drop further in May and June.


PR companies that can adapt and innovate to meet the rising demands for deliverables will not only survive, but prosper. 
So how are you innovating and adapting to meet your clients changing demands?  Please tell me about what you’re doing and become a trail blazer for the PR industry.  A problem shared is a problem halved.  Right now a solution shared could be an industry saved…

  1. Measurement, accountability and return on investment are even more critical to PR success in today’s current economic climate. Clients need to justify every penny spent in their marketing budgets and as a result expect agencies to be totally transparent in their cost structure and go that extra mile in demonstrating the success of their campaigns. In an industry first Cirkle launched ‘Retailer Inner Cirkle’ earlier this year, an innovative initiative to provide more rigorous and independent evaluation of the agency’s business PR. In association with the Association of Convenience Stores, Retailer Inner Cirkle is designed to better understand retailers’ attitudes and behaviours as a result of reading the business press.

    One of the key outcomes was the popularity of business magazines with the majority of retailers reading at least 2 a month. Significantly 73% of retailers use the business media to make informed decisions on which products to buy, a statistic which affirms the need for effective business communications. The agency’s many blue chip clients such as Walkers, Premier Foods and GSK are already reaping the benefits and insights this imitative is providing and the agency is currently considering rolling out a similar scheme on the consumer side.

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