Can PR survive competition from management consultancies?

The news that renowned management consultancy McKinsey is to start counselling its clients on social media should send a shiver down the spines of public relations and corporate communications consultancies.

McKinsey has partnered with Nielsen BuzzMetrics to form NM Incite, a social media consultancy. The new company claims it will ‘help businesses harness the full potential of social media intelligence and focus on measuring the impact social media has on businesses.’ NM Incite currently only operates in the USA, but Nielsen has said it is looking to expand into other markets.

Simon Collister is sceptical that a management consultancy can offer genuine communication consultancy and cites the example of ‘chatting with a senior PR consultant who was lamenting a ‘brand strategy’ put together by the client’s management consultancy.’

Drew Benvie is far more positive, but points out that the services on offer from McKinsey’s new division are all pretty old bread and butter stuff for digital veterans.

I view it as both an opportunity and a threat. The opportunity is that it’s yet more evidence about the strategic importance of social media and its impact on businesses and organisations. The threat is that the management consultants will take more and more business from traditional PR consultancies.

PR still suffers from a reputation of being a ‘fluffy’ management discipline and unfortunately it’s too often justified. At Wolfstar we’ve spent considerable time over the last few months in investing in creating a new communications audit consultancy tool that has an extremely rigorous process and quality control behind it. It’s exactly the sort of tool that many management consultancies offer to clients. We’ve recognised that public relations professionals have got to up their game if they are to compete in the modern world.


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.