Judging by the number of PR jobs on the market in the early part of 2010, PR consultancies have started the year strongly. This demand is starting to reflect in the corporate sector where large organizations are recruiting again after many of them cut staff last year. It’s a good sign for the industry and the economy generally, exacerbated by the fact that many people in the highly mobile public relations and communications sector had a close eye on job security in 2009, choosing to stay put rather than look for new jobs. 2010 however shows a completely different picture. Some consultancies have had up to 50% of their staff looking at new job prospects, and it looks like a while before it is likely to settle down.
BIG MOVES AT WESTPAC
Westpac have reinstated the position of Director of Corporate Affairs and have appointed highly respected and well liked practitioner Sue Foley to the position. Sue was most recently Director of External Relations at Massey University but her previous career includes General Manager of Corporate Affairs at Kiwirail, Chief of Staff for TV3 and Press Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition. Sue starts on 22 March.
RECESSION GOOD FOR GLOBAL PR MARKET
The January issue of the The Economist reported that the Recession had created new opportunities for the Public Relations sector amongst the corporate sector, meaning not only new business but also enhanced influence around the Board table. The benefits were not universally spread however, with a global survey of the communications industry by StevensGouldPincus finding that 64% of participating companies saw revenues slide in 2009 while 23% experienced increased revenue.
However there’s a sting in the tail – PR’s growing importance is attracting the attention of regulators who are worried that some PR firms so not make it clear enough that they are behind much seemingly independent commentary on blogs and social networks. New Zealand companies active in this area include Vodafone and Air New Zealand, where staff and supportive consumers are quick to refute on-line criticism.
Nevertheless projections are that PR spending in America will surpass $8 billion by 2013. Public relations is clearly still a growing industry worldwide!.
In Consultancy world, many companies are reporting a strong finish to the year. Lack of activity around the middle of 2009 meant there were a few reductions in size but the consumer world of consultancy PR seemed to hold up rather well and the corporate consultancies are finishing the year well. There were winners and losers of course - and some were in both camps, such as Porter Novelli, who picked up Southern Cross and all of Microsofts work (previously held by both Porter Novelli and Consultus) but failed to keep Westpac who are now using Star PR for some work going forward. Haystac added to their staff of one, having launched mid-year, and Eleven PR continues to show a strong performance with a net two staff added this year. BBG lost Southern Cross but picked up a major project for Eden Park. In a move reflecting the trend towards experiential PR, Mango appointed experienced Group AD Steve Kane to the new position of Creative director - experiential in what is probably a first for the world of PR consultancy.
So - all in all - a tough year, everyone has worked incredibly hard but most are happy with the way the year is finishing and are pleased it is coming to an end! It looks like the world of Corporate PR is loosening up a little as well as some companies realise that they have under-resourced the communications function and have had to resort to contract staff or supplementing existing resources after some pretty robust restructuring.
So how are things shaping up for 2010? Not bad if current demand is any indication, with many consultancies looking for experienced staff at a senior level, partly the result of people who avoided moving earlier in the year because of job uncertainty now being willing to put their toe in the job market to see what's out there now that confidence seems to be on the up.
A Merry Christmas to all you blog followers in PR land and for those who want to start 2010 with a sniff around the job market, don't forget to email me - firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 021-940884. Have a great break - you certainly all deserve it!
Word on the street is that Pead PR has won the NOKIA pitch, although no-one is confirming or denying at this stage. Incumbent PPR, Draft FCB and Impact PR were in the pitch. Watch this space for confirmation.
Steve Fisher, former Managing Director of Baldwin Boyle Group has popped up at PPR (Professional Public Relations) a few months after his departure from BBG. An interesting senior acquisition for PPR, which surely must have a business development strategy behind it given Fisher's previous responsibilities. It will be interesting to see how PPR fares in the Microsoft pitch (see next item).
Expect a result next week from the Microsoft pitch which involved incumbent Consultus on the product side and Porter Novelli on the corporate business, plus PPR (Professional Public Relations) who were also invited to pitch. Likely outcome is one consultancy to handle both product and corporate - we'll let you know as soon as a decision is made. The X-Box business handled by Pead PR is unaffected.