Monday, December 01, 2008

Can PR agencies grow in '09?

Now that the US and many other major economies are officially in recession it is tempting to believe that 2009 is going to be a horrid year for PR agencies. I suspect for some it will be. There will be plenty of lay offs as smaller clients cut back and larger clients become more cautious with their marketing spend. But it needn't be all bad news. Agencies may well end up with limited if any financial growth but they can grow their business in plenty of other ways. Agencies can finally embrace good measurement techniques, social media and other related digital services. They can explore ways to extend their services so they better integrate with other marketing services. Put another way, consultants can increase the skills they are able to offer clients and therefore increase the return the clients get from their investment.

I think it is also worth noting that not all PR agencies are the same (I know how obvious that statement is). I say this to remind consultants that the fortunes of agencies lie in the skills of the management at the agency, the strength of their client relationships, the products they offer, the ability of the agency to demonstrate value and of course a little luck. This means that some well run agencies that are also lucky may well grow in the next year or two. For PROs wondering if their firm will be one of them they need to evaluate the management, product offering and client base. They then need to ask themselves how their agency scores. The luck part is of course impossible to measure but its is worth noting that the better agencies are likely to also be the luckiest. Indeed I think it was the golfer Gary Player that said the more I practice the luckier I get.

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