Respondents to a new PR Boutiques International (PRBI) survey of worldwide boutique public relations agencies predict moderate to high growth for their businesses in 2012, a reflection of the increasing recognition that these specialized firms deliver real value in a challenging economy.
“The boutique PR firm is more appealing than ever to clients because our structure and senior expertise yields results,” said PRBI president Bill Cowen, CEO of Metrospective Communications of Philadelphia, in a news release. “Today companies need insightful and accurate advice, superb execution, and flexibility to adapt to constantly changing conditions, which is exactly the value proposition that our members provide.”
“As a founding member of PRBI, Media & Communications Strategies in Washington, DC is also experiencing a kind of client epiphany regarding choosing senior counsel and the best collaborative teams coming from our PRBI concept as opposed to hiring a ‘one-size-fits-all’ traditional agency model,” agreed Scott Sobel, president of Media & Communications Strategies.
How social media helped to incite the revolutions in the Middle East was tapped by respondents as the biggest milestone in 2011 that proves the power of PR, followed by the heightened public hype and awareness around the technology world (including the death of Steve Jobs) and the use of social media to help turn Occupy Wall Street into a global phenomenon tied for second. All member agencies responding to the survey reported that their confidence level about the business environment was either medium (72 percent) or high (28 percent), while 78 percent predicted moderate growth in 2012. Two out of three reported that the perceived value of the PR boutique has increased during the economic recession, because companies see that they get more value for their investment (38 percent) and clients value the hands-on role of senior, experienced practitioners (38 percent).
The power of social media was cited by 44 percent of respondents as the major trend impacting communications in 2012, followed by the economic recession and its impact on spending (33 percent). The difficulty of telling a company story in a crowed marketplace was voted the biggest communication challenge that clients face in the coming year. Conversely the most significant opportunity facing companies today lies in telling that story through engaging, compelling media and channels, including the strategic use of social media.
Rather than predicting that social media will be the PR “magic bullet” for all clients, PRBI members instead view it as a tool that must be powered by engaging content and strategically integrated into the enterprise’s communication program.
“The cost effectiveness of PR, and the ability of senior practitioners like PRBI members to devise the best way to tell a compelling story in a crowded marketplace, is a key differentiator going forward and the reason why we are optimistic about 2012,” concluded Cowen.
PRBI, a worldwide collaborative network of firms, includes 32 agencies operating in 13 countries, spanning the globe from Argentina to South Korea. Members of PRBI represent companies ranging from international conglomerates to Fortune 500, trade associations, and fast growing firms in industries such as technology, energy, financial services, government, tourism, education, lifestyle and healthcare.