Managing a PR firm for growth and continued survival has never been more challenging than at present – especially in the UAE.
Numerous influences – over which communications specialists had no control – have flooded the Middle East PR industry. Yet, agencies that are positively disposed to change and willing to adapt to the shifting environment could safeguard their continued existence.
Some of the major challenges that have impacted on the PR arena in the UAE are:
Not so long ago PR agencies in the region were accustomed to working in a “black hole”. PR agencies flourished on clients who simply threw money at PR activities without really demanding a yield on their investment.
But the worldwide economic crisis, still as clichéd as it may sound, caused many PR agencies to squirm as PR and marketing budgets were sliced dramatically.
Apart from smaller budgets within which practitioners now have to execute clients’ PR campaigns, the tough economic climate implies that communications agencies have to keep tight control over their own expenditure and income as well.
Clients are increasingly expecting more of PR agencies – not only more bang for their buck, but, more importantly, they are also counting on their agency to act as a strategic business partner; one that does not simply act as generator of media releases, but a professional associate capable to offer sound counsel.
With the rising trend of local enterprises (corporates and SMMEs alike) vying not only with each other, but also with international rivals for share of wallet, considered tactical counsel by communications specialists will progressively become a sought-after commodity.
Clients will, if they are not already doing so, begin to measure the value of their PR agency by the strategic guidance they receive as opposed to column centimetres. In response, agencies will have to adopt higher consulting standards.
Although some agencies (those directed by visionaries) have indeed already altered course and changed tactics, there appear to be agencies that are still grappling with (and are opposed to) the notion of a new way of doing PR.
The latter will have to quickly adapt… or die.