The trends that will power public relations in 2010

Mary Fletcher Jones

Planning for Success in 2010

Many public relations consultants and agencies are regrouping in the wake of one of the worst economic crises in our lifetime. As PR professionals plan for 2010, their questions may include where to look for new business, which competencies to develop, and how to satisfy the revised expectations of current and prospective clients.  Read on for ideas on how public relations consultants and agencies may position themselves for success now and through 2010.

Follow the Money: Industries in the Market for Public Relations

The economic stimulus dollars associated with the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will have a major impact on certain industries now and through 2010.  While banking, retail, and insurance may not experience a resurgence next year, other industries have an increased demand for public relations services, including businesses, agencies, and vendors related to

  • Healthcare. A huge chunk of the stimulus dollars will be directed to companies which provide patient care and related services (particularly to low-income individuals), medical research, education and training of doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners.  Think laboratories, medical supply companies, universities, hospital systems, medical institutes, and pharmaceutical companies.  Wellness projects such as immunization and nutrition programs will also receive funding.  Money will be directed into projects for NIH and into research for  autism.
  • Energy industries. Industries will be competing for funding for renewable energy research and development grants, construction projects, and tax incentives.  Expect companies that research or produce energy-saving, low-emissions vehicles to have an increased need for public relations services.
  • Technology.  A healthcare-related initiative to provide medical e-records for all Americans and other technological upgrades and innovations will be a huge boost for information technology and database management companies. Wireless and broadband services will also receive government funding, particularly for providing service to rural and underserved communities.
  • Utilities. Transforming the country’s electric utilities into a smart grid will be a priority.
  • Transportation.  Including airports, mass transit, rail, and highways.  There will be a focus on rebuilding highways and rebuilding roads and bridges in rural communities.
  • Construction. Particularly at federal facilities, but also across many other sectors.
  • Environmental projects, including EPA-funded projects that will benefit many industries, such as those involved with waste management, providing clean water, environmental clean-ups of petroleum leaks and nuclear waste, emissions control in vehicles, etc.
  • Homeland Security and Department of Justice projects, including airport security, domestic violence prevention, law enforcement, border protection, and other projects.
  • Education projects, especially those focused on early childhood education and teacher training.  School construction projects mean increased business for construction, architecture, and engineering firms.

In-Demand Service Areas for Public Relations Businesses

Wondering how to position your public relations consultancy or agency for increased business?  In terms of services, what clients want now and in the new year include

  • Public affairs, government relations, public-policy related services.
  • Positioning businesses to obtain ARRA government grants and projects.
  • Digital public relations efforts, such as monitoring, analyzing, and responding to online conversations about the client’s brand, blog relations, and content development.
  • Expert social media consultation.  Clients expect their agencies to be involved in social media and to have cutting-edge expertise on all trends related to it.
  • Online reputation management and crisis communications consultation.
  • Cause marketing, such as “green” or environmental initiatives.
  • Employee communications strategies.

Increased Expectations From Clients

One compelling trend in this economy is that client expectations for results from public relations consultants and agencies have increased, while fees have either decreased or remained the same.  Retainer fees and agency-of-record agreements are falling by the wayside in this economy.  Agencies and consultants are expected to do more with less, and clients are looking for these qualities in the public relations firms and consultants with whom they conduct business

  • Lower fees.
  • Project-based fee structures.
  • Increased emphasis on results measurement and associated value with business goals, including metrics for social media efforts and campaigns.
  • Demonstrated understanding of marketing, including closer collaboration with advertising agencies or the ability to provide integrated marketing campaigns.
  • New, creative, and innovative solutions.  In our high-tech, information-saturated culture, the ability to cut through the noise and grab the attention of target markets has become an even greater priority for companies who hire public relations firms.

For your information, Fletcher Prince is registered in the federal contracting system under multiple NAICS codes, and we have the desirable designation as a woman-owned small business.  Please contact Mary Fletcher Jones to discuss subcontracting arrangements for your federally-funded public relations, marketing, or communications project.

To learn more, read this Council of Public Relations Firms article and this article on the impact of the  Economic Stimulus.

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About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a public relations and marketing consultant, and owns Fletcher Prince (www.FletcherPrince.com). Follow Mary on Twitter @FletcherPrince.

Posted on October 9, 2009, in Client/Agency Relationship, Public Relations Tips and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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