Despite the tricky economic times that we all work in, the PR sector seems to be doing pretty well.
The industry is proving itself to be flexible, reactive and creative. And there is potential for further success in both new and traditional sectors.
Digital continues to be one of the most exciting areas right now, and Eva Keogan, head of Innovation at PR firm Fishburn Hedges says this is set to get more rewarding: “This could be the golden moment for PR, as agencies get to grips with the digital and social space. Over the last four years or so we have seen an agency land grab for the new ‘conversation culture’, whether it be advertising, media, digital or SEO.” Keogan says that although other marketing disciplines are fighting to rule the digital space, the ones who are going to succeed are those who are put credibility and authority at the centre of what they do, “I think the best placed discipline for this is PR, as agencies are able to manage stakeholder conversation and client reputation at the same time as delivering a social campaign. The future absolutely lies with online and social media campaigns which are fully integrated with the offline world.”
But digital isn’t the only sector that offers opportunities. Tom Leatherbarrow, head of B2B at agency Willoughby Public Relations, outlines the areas that offer the most, and least, potential in B2B: “The further you are away from the high street at the moment the better and the B2B sector is performing strongly, in particular the engineering and manufacturing sectors. I think there is a bit of an untold story out there about how well UK manufacturing is doing in the circumstances.
“What is lost among the hysteria of the Eurozone crisis is that the German economy continues to perform quite well, which is sucking in exports from the UK. UK manufacturers of machine tools, electrical engineering components are reaping the benefit of strong export markets, cheap money and a desire to invest amongst their customer base in order to get better, quicker and more efficient. All of this is driving the B2B PR sector forward.”
Nev Ridley, managing director at agency Manifest Communications, advises casting your net wide when it comes to developing new business, and claims the secret of his agency’s success is down to providing services to a an eclectic mix of sectors ranging from sport and leisure to construction, manufacturing, logistics and food and drink: “It is this multi-sector working which allows cross fertilisation of ideas, which helps us to develop innovative and strategic campaigns.”
Ridley says that there are regional differences when it comes to finding ripe areas for new business: “Our London office has had success in targeting start-up businesses in the tech and consumer sector, whereas in the North we tend to have more success with traditional industries and well-established brands.”
The magic ingredient for success is always giving the client, no matter which sector, the right campaigns. As Ridley concludes: “Any sector and indeed brand can be fruitful for an agency as long as the agency provides a creative and realistic PR strategy that delivers measurable targets and results for the client.”
Written by Daney Parker