Is PR recession-proof?

March 18, 2009

It might appear so, if this story is anything to go by.

The reported 10 percent profit rise by Chime Communications, the marketing Group which owns Agencies such as Bell Pottinger, in the FT lends itself to the possibility that certain PR sectors – apart from financial PR of course, which is spending greatly-reduced Client fees on fire-fighting at the moment – have seen a marked increase in revenues in the public sector, as more and more organisations struggle to promote positive messages.

The results from Chime come at a time when Sir Martin Sorrell, Chief Executive of WPP reported a revenues growth of four percent – and then went on record in the Guardian to announce that thousands of Group PR positions would need to be axed to protect the firm. It would appear that corporate PR is not the safe place it always used to be.

How does this affect the medium and smaller firms out there? Most businesses, whilst in the process of reducing elements of their marketing spend, will sensibly hold onto the PR part – seeing that PR remains one of the most cost-effective parts of the promotional mix.

So, in essence, I can see that for certain sectors of PR, the recession holds little real fear for their economic survival: after all, if Clients are cutting budget in other areas, but still recognising the need for PR messages in the marketplace, it can only be a good thing for the majority of smaller boutique PR Consultancies and Agencies.

The larger players, however, will see streamlining as Clients cut back on peripheral activities not essential to the overall marketing mix. More interestingly, there could well be a surge in smaller and medium-sized companies deciding to conduct their own PR activities. Which is never a bad thing for the Press, if they’re getting the information straight from the horses mouth, of course.

The only issue is whether the DIY PR approach gives the media exactly what they want, when they want it.

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