2006 was a good year, sort of

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.

 


About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.
  • http://renaissancechambara.com/ Ged

    Stuart, all the best for the new year and best of luck with your plans wherever they take you. For what its worth, you get used to living in London, the difficult part is the first six years or so.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/stuartbrucepr/ Stuart Bruce – Wolfstar

    Ged I've done London – although only for a year. Just wasn't me. Fantastic place to visit, but not so hot to live.

  • http://www.realoasis.net Richard Boyd

    There’s nothing wrong with being a “small company” and based where you enjoy a good life. That’s us to a tee, so we aren’t going to do Chelsea Flower Show, and we are rarely going to be asked to do some innovative design (which I’d love to). OK so we only occasionally get to pitch a killer pitch, and suffer as a result… and yes in the main, we do small-scale sub £20K projects.

    However I think this is where we differ you are obviously professionally driven rather than lifestyle driven and that’s the difference. For us it’s a trade off (taken 3 years, to get used to) but it suits us. Great life style, great food and drink, great friends and neighbours, loads of (mainly basic) work coming in.

    On the positive side we read a few PR blogs virtually none of which we return to apart from yours, your personal style of blogging is both passionate and persuasive, it will take time, but you’ll get where you want to.

    However, we agree on this, I will not go back to the smoke and all the hassle that that entails.

  • http://www.accmanpro.com Dennis Howlett

    If I'm hearing you right you're saying therre's a choice to be made between financial reward and doing what you really want to and like doing. The second beats the first hands down – every time.

    Hint: where's Rubel these days? When was the last time you heard him say anything vaguely interesting? He's already been forgotten. But is he happy?

  • http://profile.typekey.com/stuartbrucepr/ Stuart Bruce – Wolfstar

    I agree Dennis, doing what I like doing is definitely the most important thing. But that means a variety of things. It's partially lifestyle, which is why I won't consider London. To 'enjoy' London in the same way as I 'enjoy' Leeds I'd have to earn a fortune.

    But what I'd really like is a chance to get back into doing some big, juicy PR projects. Most of what I do at the moment is great fun, but I need more of a challenge.