With the rise of social media, there has been some discussion of how the PR industry will undoubtedly change. Will it subside as new media outlets become more easily accessible to the public? Will it grow as people try to figure out how best to leverage their company in the face of the changing market? I address some of these issues in my post, “Social Media for Start Ups – New Roles for PR Agencies?”
According to an article in PRSA, “Ad spending now smallest piece of communications pie, forecast says; public relations expected to see 9 percent growth,” PR is on the rise while other areas of communications are dropping off. Even though communications spend went up by 2.3 percent in 2008, according to a New York Timesarticle, “A Look Ahead at the Money in the Communications Industry“, 2009 isn’t looking as promising.
For 2009, Veronis Suhler expects overall advertising spending to drop 7.6 percent, with a 1 percent decline to follow in 2010. According to the firm’s estimates, the segments where advertising will decline most rapidly this year are newspapers (down 18.7 percent); consumer magazines (down 14.8 percent); radio (down 11.7 percent); and broadcast television (down 10.1 percent).
This is surprising since advertising was once the biggest investment in the communications realm, although it does not come as a shock that newspaper and magazine ads are falling to the wayside since readers are turning more and more to other mediums (especially online), causing more viral marketing/advertising to take off. Traditional media in general seems to be phasing out as social media is taking a firmer grasp on society.
In a recent report, Forrester Research asked 114 global companies with 250 employees or more what their 2009 budget looks like for social media, even during a downturn. Fifty-three percent indicated an INCREASE in their social media budget and 42 percent indicated they’d keep their budgets at CURRENT levels, while only a mere 5 percent indicated they’d DECREASE their social media budget. When compared with the developments in other areas of communications spending, this is an interesting trend that can be leveraged by PR agencies for clients willing to spend in other areas to get their messaging and company name out there.
The forecasted growth for the PR industry, though, is very encouraging. It makes sense that as the traditional media outlets are declining, companies will turn to PR agencies to learn how to make the most splash in the new media scene. PR professionals know all the ins and outs of dealing with journalists and publications, whether it’s through newspapers and magazines or Twitter and LinkedIn. To keep up with the industry, PR agencies need to move into the modern era of social media marketing and networking, and become the experts that companies expect them to be.
*Includes event sponsorships and marketing, ad-sponsored games, and product palcement.