The answer is of course that some will go up and some will come down. But which will go up and which will fall? Here are some answers:
1. It seems obvious to expect the businesses that are doing well to spend more on PR. They might but it isn’t guaranteed. Growing businesses will spend money on marketing that has a clear ROI. If there is one thing this recession should have taught agencies it is to focus on ROI. If don’t yet have a measure – get one.
2. PR that directly links to product sales will do well in any economy. The trick is making the connection. That is easier said than done, especially when you are working with larger businesses that have comprehensive marketing programs. In this situation everyoe wants to take the credit. What is still surprising to me is how rarely PR people do some simple analysis that shows the results they generated on a graph that connects to sales a company has made. It isn’t a perfect solution but in the absence of anything better…
3. IPOs are set to bounce back in a big way in 2010. Investor focussed PR will clearly be immense importance and value. This isn’t a market you can just jump in to though. Relationships with investment banks and law firms are critical. If you are not connected to this world, don’t expect to see many opportunities.
4. As governments around the world continue to try and drag their respective economies out of recession and fix the problems that got them into the situation, legislation will continue to be passed. This legislation will affect businesses large and small. Agencies that offer help to those businesses have a great opportunity in the next year. If you don’t understand the world of public policy, now may be the time to do some reading.
5. Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency. Companies that got hit in the downturn but survived learned how to become more efficient. The challenge is that they want to carry on finding new efficiencies. This creates an opportunity for agencies able to offer clients a more comprehensive, global solution. This is of course an area where agencies will make promises they can’t keep. But clients want efficiencies, so efficiences will be offered. The real winners will be those able to actually deliver on these efficiences.
1. Agencies that survived the recession may feel they are owed a future. But if they didn’t learn anything from the recession then in reality they will continue to struggle. Make a list now of the lessons you learned. This should include the things you want to change and the things you believe you did right.
2. Agencies that paid lip service to their staff during the downturn will pay a huge price as the recession ends. Staff will be grateful that you gave them a job but if you aren’t offering a career don’t expect to keep them when the good times return.
3. Digital is the obvious growth opportunity but it is also the area that successful agencies will invest in the most. If you don’t focus on digital and invest the time and money they do, you will fall behind and that could ugly, fast. Are you focusing on digital and making the necessary investments?
4. Agencies have all taken on clients that they shouldn’t have. During the recession, agencies justified taking on the less than perfect clients by telling themselves it is about survival. But the reality is that in better times, better staff will leave to work on better clients. They may not have had that choice in the recession. In the months ahead that choice will return and they will leave. Client makeovers are not easy but if you need one, start working on it now.
This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means but if you take one lesson away I hope it’s that we all need to learn from the recession we’ve just been through. If we fail to learn, we’ll fail to improve. If we fail to improve, we won’t just stand still, we’ll get overtaken.