Monday, July 14, 2008

How will the current recession impact Public Relations?

Whether the current recession is real or perceived (depending who you listen to), the PR industry is looking at the impact it is going to have.

Possible trends to watch:

When media professionals will be laid off or move into other areas, PR professionals (both in house and at the agency-side) will lose established relationships – one of their core strengths.
Especially agencies will be hurt by contacts at leading magazines and news outlets that will have no more business value, and need to be replaced.
This requires heavy investments in time and effort.

The media organizations that are sizing down (also due to less advertising income) will have to figure out who will be cover their different market niches.
They might opt for merging some of topic areas (e.g. lifestyle and health) or cutting some areas in an effort to go back to their core business.
PR professionals might find that they cannot pitch their stories anymore, since that specific technology or topic is not covered by that specific media organization anymore.

Both media organizations and PR agencies might start cutting down on their high-level, high-salary employees and replace them with junior or entry-level people who will learn on the fly. This will come at a price – lower quality and less focus.
If this trend leads to fewer people and more newbies, readers might punish a media organization by canceling subscriptions. Some media outlets will close down, which will give PR agencies and professionals less opportunities to pitch their stories.

The competition for placement in the remaining media outlets will increase, and PR agencies will have a tough job explaining to their clients why they cannot be covered by certain news media.
In this highly competitive market, the strongest and most creative PR agencies and professionals will survive.
The media will be looking for quality to keep a competitive edge and to compensate for the loss of in-house resources. Receiving ready-to-print top-notch articles will help the news media to compensate for the lack of experience of newbies.

So is it all bad news? No, not really.
It could benefit experienced copywriters, editors, journalists working as freelancers. It could also make it easier for seasoned PR professionals to enter the market as an in-house PR person or at a PR agency.
In the US, being fluent in Spanish as well will become a major asset. It will extend the reach of a company or PR agency significantly.
For Europe, being multi-lingual is the key. Since most of the wealth in Western Europe is concentrated in the Germanic countries, German is the additional language to go for.
Fluency in French not only secures coverage in the French media, but also in all francophone countries.
Don’t forget: no matter how fluent journalists might be in English, they still have to write their articles in their native language……..

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