PR agency heads positive for industry; overwhelmingly negative for UK economy in 2019

The PRCA has revealed the findings of the Consultancy Barometer Q4 2018 survey, in which PR agency heads are surveyed on business confidence, client budgets, and staff recruitment. In the last quarter, agency heads were positive about the industry’s outlook for 2019, but were overwhelmingly negative about the state of the UK economy.

The key findings are:

  • 34% of agency heads reported that clients had marginally or significantly increased their budgets. 44% of respondents said that budgets had stayed the same, and only 3% said that budgets had decreased significantly.
  • The clear majority of respondents (75%) described the last quarter as busy or very busy, compared to 3% who described it as very quiet.
  • When asked about staff numbers, 42% of respondents predicted that staff numbers would increase in the next quarter, while 53% of respondents expected staff numbers to stay the same.
  • Agency heads were positive about the outlook for their consultancy and the industry as a whole. Over 55% of respondents said the last quarter had made them feel more optimistic about their consultancy, while 39% of respondents said the same thing for the wider industry. In contrast, 71% of respondents said that the state of the UK economy would worsen over the next 12 months. Only 2% of respondents predicted that the UK economy would improve in the next year.

Francis Ingham MPRCA, Director General, PRCA said: “The PR industry is thriving. But agencies are very clear that they expect the next twelve months to be extremely challenging for the country as a whole. The reason for this is clear – Brexit uncertainty. Nervousness about the UK economy has increased in every quarterly Barometer since the referendum. Our industry stands on firm foundations. But even the strongest of business sectors will ultimately pay a price if economic uncertainty continues for too long.”

Gavin Devine MPRCA, Director and Founder, Park Street Partners said: “The million-dollar question for the next quarter is Brexit. What will it bring? What will it do to clients? For corporate communicators it could be an opportunity, or it could be a threat – it’s just impossible to know.”

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