PR Industry Optimism is Booming, New PRCA Research Reveals

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PR industry optimism has doubled in one year, new findings from the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) have revealed.

The PRCA’s Third Quarter Trends Barometer has also reported increased growth in budgets, new business and staff numbers, by comparison to the same period in 2012.

For the period 1 July to 30 September 2013, 64% of agency heads are feeling more optimistic about the PR industry, compared to 31% in the previous year. 68% are feeling more optimistic for their consultancy, compared to 43% in the previous year.

84% believe the UK economy will improve over the next 12 months, compared to a mere 30% a year ago. Only 2% believe it will get worse, compared to 21% a year ago.

Three quarters (75%) of agencies stated that the level of new business in the third quarter of 2013 was either busy or very busy, compared to 59% in the same period last year.

44% of agencies reported that clients have increased their budgets either significantly or marginally, compared to 30% last year. 57% believe staff numbers will increase in the next quarter, while only 37% thought this in Q3 of 2012.

PRCA Director General Francis Ingham said: “These findings are very encouraging –new business is strong, budgets are growing, firms are recruiting again. For the PR industry, the downturn is over; the recovery is here to stay. It’s time to be optimistic again.”

Consultancy Barometer Q3 2013 – the full findings

For the period 1 July to 30 September what have your clients done with their budgets?

Increased significantly:                      7%

Increased marginally:                       37%

Stayed the same:                             42%

Decreased marginally:                     12%

Decreased significantly:                     2%


How would you describe the level of new business between 1 July and 30 September?

Very busy:                                         12%

Busy:                                                 63%

Unchanged:                                      14%

Quiet:                                                10%

Very quiet:                                         0%


During the last quarter, what happened to your over-servicing levels?

Increased significantly:                       3%

Inceased marginally:                         31%

Stayed the same:                              53%

Decreased marginally:                      12%

Decreased significantly:                      0%

Do not over-service:                            0%


Has the last quarter made you feel more or less optimistic for your consultancy?

More optimistic:                                68%

The same:                                        32%

Less optimistic:                                  0%


Has the last quarter made you feel more or less optimistic for the PR/communications industry?

More optimistic:                                64%

The same:                                        36%

Less optimistic:                                  0%


What will happen to the UK economy over the next 12 months?

Improve:                                           84%

Stay the same:                                 14%

Get worse:                                         2%

Don’t know:                                       0%


What will happen to staff numbers in the next quarter?

Staff numbers will increase:            57%

Staff numbers will stay same:         41%

Staff numbers will decrease:             2%


In the next quarter what will happen to graduate recruitment relative to the same period last year?

Increase:                                          27%

Decrease:                                           2%

Stay the same:                                 71%


In the next quarter, what will happen to the use of freelancers relative to the previous quarter?

Increase:                                          50%

Decrease:                                          9%

Stay the same:                                41%


What proportion of your income for the last quarter was derived from retained work?

0 - 10%                                             2%

11 - 20%                                           0%

21 - 30%                                           2%

31 - 40%                                           5%

41 - 50 %                                          7%

51 - 60%                                           7%

61 - 70%                                          20%

71 - 80%                                          23%

81 - 90%                                          25%

91 - 100%                                          9%


Is your new business primarily from new or existing clients?

Existing clients:                                 41%

New clients:                                      59%


About PRCA

Who we are: Founded in 1969, the PRCA is the largest PR association in Europe, representing 12,000 people in agencies, in-house communications teams, and individuals. The PRCA promotes all aspects of public relations and internal communications work, helping teams and individuals maximise the value they deliver to clients and organisations.

What we do: The Association exists to raise standards in PR and communications, providing members with industry data, facilitating the sharing of communications best practice and creating networking opportunities.

How we do it and make a difference: All PRCA members are bound by a professional charter and codes of conduct, and benefit from exceptional training. The Association also works for the greater benefit of the industry, sharing best practice and lobbying on the industry's behalf e.g. fighting the NLA's digital licence.

Who we represent: The PRCA represents many of the major consultancies in the UK, and currently has more than 350 agency members from around the world, including the majority of the top 150 UK consultancies. We also represent over 150 in-house communications teams from multinationals, UK charities and leading UK public sector organisations.