News: PR leaders predict increased profitability in face of global challenges

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PR agency leaders in every region of the world expect increased profitability over the next 12 months, according to the new ICCO World PR Report 2022-2023. The expected profitability score was 7.0 out of 10, up from 6.7 in 2021. 

PR leaders, directors, and agency owners who took part in the survey indicated a growing demand from clients for a range of services beyond traditional PR, with a score of 6.5, up from 6.1 in 2021. 

The findings point to increasingly more companies paying closer attention to corporate purpose (7.2 up from 6.9) and CEOs taking corporate reputation more seriously. Notably, ESG is in the top two investment areas for every region of the world, with the most important social issue this year being sustainability and environment.

Retaining key talent is the number one challenge as it was in 2021, with this issue especially pronounced in APAC and Africa regions, followed by motivating younger staff and developing junior staff. 

Engagement metrics are the most requested client measurement method, ahead of media clippings for the first time globally. Use and awareness of AMEC tools has increased since 2021, with 20 per cent of respondents using the tools frequently. 

The report reveals that just 30 per cent of the respondents believe the industry reflects the ethnic demographics of the countries they serve. 79 per cent of agencies globally now have an inclusion and diversity policy, compared to 55 per cent in 2021.

There was a 12 per cent increase of respondents reporting to have had experienced a mental health issue compared to 2021. The UK, Latin America and the US rank the highest in reported experiences of poor mental health.

Francis Ingham, chief executive, ICCO said, “We have seen an elevation in the importance of the PR and communications role. Our members are assuming increasingly important responsibilities in advising, guiding, often stewarding, and executing complex programs for their organizations.  But to meet the challenges ahead, we must continue upskilling, embracing the latest tech and analytics, and measuring our work in a sophisticated way”. 

Grzegorz Szczepanski (pictured), president, ICCO said, “The importance of PR professionals is being increasingly recognized, as organisations and leaders face greater scrutiny from a more discerning public. To meet this high demand and growing range of services, it’s crucial for agencies to invest time and energy into creating an environment that fosters both professional and personal growth. Otherwise, we’re at risk of watching premier talent exit our industry.”

The report contains analysis on measurement and evaluation from Richard Bagnall, co-managing partner, CARMA; talent trends analysis from Rohan Shah, co-founder, Reuben Sinclair; and analysis of the diversity and inclusion trends from Sudha Singh, founder, The Purpose Room. 

The report has a regional breakdown with data and analysis from seven geographies: Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, North America, and the UK.