The majority of this blog was originally prepared for and appeared on Commpro.biz earlier this month. Commpro.biz is an online web resource of information for the communications professional at: http://www.commpro.biz.
As a more than 20-year PR firm practitioner who has worked within the communications/media industry for nearly 35-years, I have witnessed many ups, downs, cycles and trends where our business is concerned. And while industry sectors run hot and cold and media platforms move from new to old, one constant remains: corporate PR needs agency PR – in good times and in bad.
It’s not hard to recall the “salad days” of public relations, including the mid-1990s through early 2000s, where large, high-retainer corporate accounts were the norm and the smaller, non-corporate clients were “crack fillers” if you took them at all. When that next recession hit in 2007-2008, for many the industry was flipped on its ear with corporations cutting back and running for the hills in an effort to survive while PR firms were abandoned in their wake.
Many corporations eschewed communications almost entirely at that time. In fact, we saw a major pharmaceutical company minimized our role and that of its internal resources while a national telecommunications client discontinued utilizing all of its outside PR firms across the country. Both companies subsequently suffered greatly in terms of customer perception and reputation management, with the latter routinely voted the worst in the country for customer service.
Over the past three years, that trend has gradually abated. Here in Detroit in fact, even automotive OEMs and suppliers, after taking a couple of years off from outside help, have returned to the outsource fold. It was just a matter of time and necessity. After all, corporations need all that agency PR has to offer – and not just head count. Agency resources, relationships, creativity and experience can prove invaluable. For getting the job done with greater efficiencies and effectiveness. For providing fresh ideas and perspectives. To serve as a sounding board and keeper of the “smell test” for set initiatives and conceptual considerations alike.
Agency professionals also greatly assist in-house communications and marketing counsel in selling key ideas and initiatives to CEOs and other corporate “higher-up”; adding third-party credibility to the decision making process. It’s a positive we hear from our direct contacts time and time again. At the same time, corporations, as their budgets and comfort level with once again taking risks and thinking outside the box return, afford agency practitioners the perfect opportunity to see their creative ideas realized on scales otherwise impossible.
As we move through 2015, the pendulum continues to swing back in our favor as it relates to the corporate world once again opting toward utilizing our know-how and services. That tough road back should remain smooth as long as we in this field continue to provide value and a communications road best traveled.