Warning signs for PR agencies

Posted on: November 5, 2008

A survey of 78 corporate communications directors published in PR Week (UK edition) on 31 October 2008 had warning signs for PR agency bosses. It showed that the use of agencies/consultancies was likely to fall in the coming year. As the survey was undertaken before or during the recent financial shake-up, the results may only be a partial indicator of tough times to come.


Here are headlines from the PRWeek/Brands2Life survey:


Has your comms planning been affected by the credit crunch?


Credit crunch has affected communications planning – 72%

Cut use of agencies in 2009 – 19%

Asked to cut head count – 11%

Under a third said plans had already been ‘adjusted in light of financial conditions’


Do you rely on agencies more or less than five years ago?


More – 23% (mainly from big corps with > £1bn turnover)

Same – 53%

Less – 18%


The plans to cut the use of agencies in 2009 indicated by answers to the first question may have a correlation with the 18% of corpcomms directors who rely on them less than five years ago (second question). When added to the cut of 10% in handling overflow work for these clients shown in the third question below, there is a clear indication of tough times ahead.


What is PR agency/ies main contribution?


Proactive media relations – 51%

Creative input – 50% (same as 2007)

Handling overflow work – 43% (down by 10%)

Strategic input – c.33%


So start planning for tighter belts!


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Tom Watson

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