Economists seem to agree that by and large the major economies of the world are no longer in recession. But it’s clear that while some industries are back to growth, others are still mired in there very own recession. So, is the PR industry one of the growth industries or is it still in recession? The answer is potentially ‘yes’ to both of these questions. I’d argue that the PR industry has emerged from the recession as a different business. It’s had to.
Pre recession, the PR industry was drifting towards digital and in particular social media/networks. The recession accelerated PR down that path in ways that will change the industry forever. Put another way the deliverables that clients rightly expect post recession are different. Very different. Post recession clients expect to understand communities and the conversations taking place in those communities. They also want to take part in these conversations, or at the very least influence them. They may also want to create their own communities. This is real ‘public relations’ and it’s a huge opportunity for the industry. Yet some agencies still view the world the old way. They view PR as a process that drivcs headlines and creates events. They think that a blog entry is effectively another headline. In other words they are not measuring communities and conversations, they are measuring the volume a client can talk at. These agencies are going to have to adapt and fast, or their recession will last a long time. A very long time.
The agencies that are embracing a new way of measuring success are coming out of this recession with a great opportunity. They are speaking the new language of marketing and delivering services to match. They are not confined by what media or events exist. Instead they create and influence communities and the conversations that are taking place using the best available tools. Truth is the agencies that are on this path don’t really think of themselves as PR agencies anymore and they certainly don’t fear agencies that still deliver ‘old style PR.’ This is because the approaches they are taking require skills from a wider range of disciplines. It’s also because they don’t measure success like they used to.
So, if you want to know if your agency is still in recession, ask yourself how you define success for a client. The answer to that will tell you a lot about your prospects for the next few years.