Ian Green and Simon Collister, both of Wakefield-based GREEN Communications, have both written about new research on the perilous state of the PR industry. The research. by industry analysts Plimsoll, says that 23% of PR agencies price below cost and a further 44% barely break even.
Ian says that in contrast GREEN has had “one of our best years in terms of sales and profitability”. He also mentions that a couple of Harrogate-based agencies have folded – not heard that rumour so unsure who they are.
At BMA PR we’ve had a mixed year. On the upside we’ve worked with some fantastic clients (such as Softalk and Say It Works). We’ve also done lots of smaller projects to provide social media and blog counsel to some very interesting organisations including national government departments, political organisations, universities, trade associations, quangoes and companies.
What we’ve totally failed to do is to achieve the breakthrough that I’d hoped for. The plan was that last year we would grow from being a micro-consultancy of two people in to a company of four or five with real growth potential.
We’ve have had a reasonable number of hot new business leads – absolutely all through referral or from this blog. We pitched for some, but also turned a good number away. We only want to work for clients where we are confident that we can offer the best – the ones we turned away we knew we could do, but it wasn’t where we excelled.
The most common reason for failure in the ones where we went for it was that we were too small. This is frustrating as we’ve never hidden our size, so clients knew before we pitched. We’ve also been up front about the team we would use and have always provided the names and biographies of the freelances we intended to use or people we intended to recruit.
Last year I also had approaches from some larger PR companies wanting me to work for them. These were all in London, which is a no for me. I’m happy to travel down once or twice a week, but not live there again or travel every day. I also had a couple of discussions about ‘head of PR’ type positions where the ‘fit’ just wasn’t right.
The question now is what to do this year? I’m happy doing what I’m doing, but feel that ultimately it isn’t what I want in the long term. So that probably means continue as I am, but be open to career opportunities as well as new business ones.