News: PR leaders anticipate growth in 2022

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95 per cent of PR leaders expect an increase in client income during the next year and expectations for profitability are particularly high in North America, Asia-Pacific and the United Kingdom. This is according to the International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) World PR Report 2021.

The leading growth sectors remain the same as last year with IT and technology, healthcare, and financial and professional services as the top three. Addressing the digital needs of clients is more important than ever, as three of the top four areas PR firms plan to invest in are digital (social media management, multimedia content creation and influencer communications).

The report delivers a compelling snapshot of the global PR landscape, revealing the issues, trends, and opportunities for agencies across seven worldwide regions.

79 per cent of respondents cited the pandemic as having an impact on their agency’s client fee income in the past 12 months. Agency heads cite corporate reputation, purpose and CSR, and strategic consulting as areas of highest growth expected over the next five years. Strategic consulting will be the most important skillset for PR professionals in the future. Furthermore, findings in the report show 48 per cent of global PR firms offer formal mental health and wellbeing support to staff. Minimal progress has been made in the PR workforce reflecting the society that it operates in, especially in North America and Latin America. Global AVE usage continues to decline as demand and adoption for meaningful and valid metrics increases. Artificial Intelligence is deemed the most important technology for PR businesses in the future. 52 per cent of respondents believe retaining top talent remains the biggest industry challenge. 

ICCO chief executive Francis Ingham said, “The numbers within this year’s ICCO World PR Report show a resurgent industry, growing again, and having proved that its fundamentals were absolutely sound. They also show an industry that continues to have the best of both worlds – old school skills are still heavily in demand, but insight, corporate reputation management, and strategic counsel continue to power ahead.

“Against the backdrop of such positive news, it is important to be realistic. Challenges of ethics, fake news, talent, mental health, and diversity remain.”

When asked to express levels of agreement with the statement “it is becoming difficult to differentiate between accurate information and fake news”, PR leaders in North America (7.3), Eastern Europe (6.9) and Africa (6.8) recorded the highest levels of agreement. When asked to express their levels of agreement with the statement ‘I am optimistic about the growth of the public relations market’ on a 10-point scale, PR leaders revealed a global average of 7.3 out of 10, with levels of optimism particularly strong in the Asia Pacific (7.8).