PUBLIC relations consultancies are reporting a ‘more relaxed optimism’ for the year ahead, coupled with creeping-back ‘over-servicing’ (doing more work than being paid for), according to figures released by the Public Relations Consultants Association.
Says the PRCA’s Consultancy Barometer Q4 2014, 48 per cent of PRCA members who responded to a survey said the last quarter of last year made them ‘feel more optimistic about the industry’.
But this was a 27 per cent drop on optimism levels on the same quarter of the previous year.
The number stating that the quarter made them feel the same about the industry has doubled – from 25 per cent to 50 per cent.
Other key findings:
* Optimism about the wider UK economy has similarly cooled, while not extinguished. In the fourth quarter of 2013, 75 per cent of respondents stated that it would improve over the following 12 months and 19 per cent claimed it would stay the same. In the same quarter of 2014, respondents predicting improvement have dropped to 40 per cent and nearly half (48 per cent) suggested it would stay the same.
* Coinciding with this, many practitioners report that over-servicing is beginning to rise again. Those reporting that it increased significantly in the last quarter have risen from zero per cent to four per cent in a year, and respondents stating it had increased marginally have almost doubled (up from 14 per cent to 27 per cent).
* Agency heads have also reported a shift in where their new business is coming from. There has been a ten per cent swing from existing clients to new clients in past year, with the results now standing at 32 per cent and 68 per cent respectively.
* 54 per cent predict that staff numbers will increase, only a two per cent decrease on last year’s findings. Similarly, 36 per cent report that graduate recruitment will increase in the next quarter (a minor reduction of three per cent).
* Clients’ budgets continue to paint a mixed picture of the industry. Whilst six per cent report that they have increased significantly (up from zero per cent) and 31 per cent report that they have increased marginally (down from 42 per cent), the majority (51 per cent) state that their budgets remain unchanged.
Source: PRCA Q4 2014 ‘consultancy barometer’, published January 26 2015.