Public Relations Industry Market Assessment 2006

Released on = April 16, 2007, 4:27 am

Press Release Author = Bharat Book Bureau

Industry = Marketing

Press Release Summary = The role of public relations (PR) to a company\'s
communications programmes is recognised more and more as companies increasingly
understand the importance of both corporate and brand reputations.

Press Release Body = Public Relations Industry Market Assessment 2006

The role of public relations (PR) to a company\'s communications programmes is
recognised more and more as companies increasingly understand the importance of both
corporate and brand reputations.

In the late 1990s, customer-relationship management (CRM) strategies that purported
to `put the customer at the heart of the business\' evolved and grew. However, as the
economic downturn forced companies to cut costs, customer-relations services became
commoditised; companies that always realised how poor services can affect reputation
are now, with the rapid increase of consumer-led online communications,
comprehending just how severely reputation can be damaged, as will be demonstrated
in this Market Assessment report.

This increase in consumer-led online communications - also known as `citizen
journalism\' - is seen by public-relations officers (PROs) as either a great
opportunity or a threat; many advocate a much greater awareness and use of the
opportunities presented by online PR.

Nonetheless, many practitioners see another threat posed by the Internet: the entry
into the news-distribution market of non-traditional PR agencies, such as
Web-optimisation companies. Search engines play a crucial role in any online
activity and it is vitally important for brands to be listed at the top of any
results pages. However, search-engine optimisation (SEO) is a highly specialised
field and one with which PROs working in media communications may not be familiar.
By allowing SEO companies to dominate this particular communications field, there
is, many perceive, a danger of disseminating the message.

The Internet does afford many opportunities for PROs and this Market Assessment
devotes a chapter specifically to advances in this sector.

The PR industry is certainly very vibrant and 2005 saw growth in practically all
sectors and all global markets. The industry is extremely diverse, dominated at the
top by the large global consultancies, such as Hill & Knowlton, Weber Shandwick and
Burson-Marsteller, but there are many more agencies (PRWeek lists the top 150
non-corporate owned consultancies in its annual league tables) operating as either
full-service or specialist consultancies. In August 2005, the main industry
authority, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), estimated that 8,600
practitioners were working out-of-house, in addition to an estimated 39,200 in-house
PROs. The Institute predicts that these numbers will swell.

One of the drivers behind the industry growth is its increasing ability to provide
discernable benefits through sophisticated measurement and evaluation techniques.
This is where PR meets market research in order to examine the effects of PR
campaigns on the target audience. The industry is also increasingly viewed as more
professional than in the past, helped by the CIPR becoming chartered in February

However, for PR to be truly effective, it has to have clear objectives;
practitioners are now making more use of the kind of planning techniques used in
marketing to reach the right audience. This is especially important in these days of
ever-expanding media channels and audience fragmentation.

PR support agencies - such as news-clippings agencies and media-monitoring agencies
- are all extending their reach to embrace a wider range of services, with
news-distribution services, for example, offered by a number of different support
disciplines. News clippings remain important to the industry, even if it has moved
on from merely counting the number of mentions as a measurement of success. Clients
need to see the stories generated by their PROs. Traditionally, clippings agencies
pay for the use of newspapers\' copyright material through the Newspaper Licensing
Association (NLA). The NLA is introducing an e-clippings service that will collect
content from newspapers\' production systems to make available to its licence holders
online; this move is not without controversy and the CIPR is lobbying to remove what
it sees as a newspaper-content monopoly by the NLA.

This, and other industry issues, are discussed in more detail in Chapter 2 -
Strategic Overview - of this Market Assessment report.

In order to discern the main issues of the day from PR practitioners themselves, Key
Note directly solicited their views using the ResponseSource service provided by
Daryl Willcox Publishing (DWPub). The service itself is becoming increasingly
popular among journalists and PROs and it elicited many replies, also reproduced in
Chapter 2 - Strategic Overview - of this Market Assessment report.

Key Note also conducted primary research among leading industry practitioners to
create a virtual round-table discussion on the state of the industry today.
Respondents were all senior practitioners within their fields and included: the
Director General of the CIPR; the Communications Director of the National Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC); the Managing Director (MD) of
Porter Novelli (one of the major PR consultancies in the UK); the Chairman of
Huntsworth (a UK-based global communications group); the MD of Metrica (a leading
PR-evaluation company); the MD of Immediate Future (a dynamic, independent PR
company specialising in online PR); and the CIPR\'s Young Communicator of the Year,
from Lewis PR. Their views are expressed in Chapter 8 - Industry Dynamics - of this
Market Assessment report.

Key Note is indebted to the very many industry practitioners spoken to in the
compilation of this report, all of whom were extremely generous, making available
their original content and their time.

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