Reading the PR tea leaves

The VMA Group released this snapshot of their business (there is also a screenshot here).

Most of the data isn’t that useful and I had to make allowances for the fact that VMA had doubled their own headcount. This is the lens through which I viewed the data and made the analysis below highlighting interesting trends: the year-on-year data shows a slight increase in demand for inhouse people, this makes sense if companies are batoning down the hatches to protect against economic insecurity.

There is a more prenounced trend to staff for lower paid work: a reduction in the amount of roles paying above 80,000 GBP-a-year and an increased number of searches (where they are paid a fee to find candidates for a role, regardless of whether client employs the candidate).

So clients are looking for highly talented people but aren’t prepared to pay for them. This implies a number of elements:

  • That clients believe the power has shifted in the PR recruitment market from candidate to client
  • That PR is less important to clients than other forms of marketing and has declined in its importance versus other business functions

Government and not-for-profits are losing their heat, communications staff are an easy cut to make in a recession. Its even easier to make if roles aren’t filled before we slip into the economic correction.

In conclusion employers have already costed in a recession into the packages that they are currently negotiating for PR talent and they believe that an economic correction is imminent if not already upon us.

Secondly, PR is no longer as important to clients as it has been. This maybe due to the changing nature of public relations and if the responses from the PR Week PowerBook are anything to go by in terms of great and the good’s understanding of the industry, confusion currently reigns, but thats the subject of another post that I am working on. ;-)