Thursday, March 12, 2009

Does a financial bust mean a financial boom for PR agencies?

Paul McIntyre in today's SMH online penned a piece Financial crisis spells boom for master of spin about the fact that economic turmoil is proving good news for the PR industry. But I'm quite sure I believe the hype. If you stratch the surface you might think, as I did, that this story is a classic case of PR self-promotion (possibly at the expense of some hard truths). And it's definitely got a touch of the 'the independent Australian-owned business vs the multi-national big guns' about it.

Now in terms of PR firms gaining from the financial crisis I think the truth is in the middle ground (isn't it always) - some practictioners and agencies must be bringing in more work as companies (especially those ASX-listed entities) struggle to maintain a reputation of corporate success but for others it has to hurt (even if only a little bit) as more and more companies hold onto their money waiting for the better times around the corner. Isn't that what consumers and individuals are doing too?

And in any case if you're not hurting, isn't it just a little crass to flaunt your success while so many other businesses and individuals are hurting.

I think the person who said it best was Gabriel McDowell, the partner in local consumer and public affairs firm Res Publica: "That's just rubbish," he says. "The reality is some of those international companies are already being directed by their London or New York head offices to cut costs. It's the boutiques, the locally owned businesses, which have a reputation for delivering at a local level that will see growth. Most sophisticated companies know now that access to the right people, to senior people, is the key. Those [PR firms] who know how to hunt for their own dinner will prosper. It's not going to be the large multinationals."

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