The Prospects for PR in 2008

Buoyant and vibrant – those are the words that spring to mind and sum up Scotland’s PR industry. There are thousands of us working in PR and plenty of work to be won and delivered. I believe that Scotland is ahead of the game in UK terms and, on a global scale, the UK PR market is second only to that of the US.

The Scottish media boasts an amazing array of titles, huge regional variation and tremendous competition for editorial space. We have some fabulous award-winning PR teams with a healthy mix of in-house and agency practitioners. Around 80 per cent work in-house and 20 per cent work in consultancy – all have to be highly creative to flourish in a notoriously competitive industry.

Now, there’s no such thing as one press release fits all; the days of cheesy picture are long gone, so practitioners have to be dynamic with the photocalls, as well as slick with words.

Nothing stands still in PR, it’s the pressure and deadlines we thrive upon – and, as well as the daily challenges on stories and angles, we now have substantial change to manage in the way our markets are receiving and taking in news and information.

It’s our job to deliver the right goods to support an industry where increasing numbers of consumers are skimming the day’s stories online and younger audiences are happy to avoid buying papers at all, getting their news only from free press as they commute or online sources.

I believe we’re all more aware of the real breadth of communication on offer. And it simply makes consultancies like mine have to work harder at presenting material in the way our public wishes to consume its news. Scotland has the PR team to deliver. While 25 per cent of the UK’s PR practitioners work in London, Scotland has more than its fair share of the balance. The Chartered Institute of Public Relations, our profession’s membership organisation, has 9000 UK members, of which 820 are Scotland-based. There is a higher percentage of members per capita in Scotland than in the other ten UK regional CIPR groups.

And it’s not just quantity. Now granted its Royal Charter, CIPR is all about quality and those within the PR business are constantly raising standards: senior practitioners are generally very generous with their time, training and coaching less experienced colleagues; CIPR itself runs events and training programmes for all skills levels, a continuous professional development scheme and a new online Diploma

The majority of PR employees across Scotland are graduates and I read recently that even the boy scouts has developed a PR badge – that’s a pretty clear line of progression for those with talent.

Dynamism and talent shine through at Scotland’s annual PRide Awards, held every year in November. It’s really encouraging to all of us in the business to see accolades awarded to the large, well-established teams, smaller consultancies and newer players with a real geographic spread throughout Scotland. The variety of projects put forward also emphasises the breadth of work on offer to us within our incredibly demanding and fast-changing communications world.

The PR industry as a whole is in good shape and the results are clear. The UK PR industry has a turnover of