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Global survey indicates positive outlook for public relations in 2023

Over the course of the pandemic, many communications agencies reduced staff complements, restructured or pivoted into new models of implementation. As the world became more and more digital, with marketing and communications' budgets cut, media owners also retrenched or shut down as advertising declined. The 'new normal' was a challenging communications landscape, but one that also brought opportunity with it.
Global survey indicates positive outlook for public relations in 2023
Nicole Capper, managing director of Mango-OMC
Nicole Capper, managing director of Mango-OMC

A survey conducted in early February 2023 by the International Public Relations Network (IPRN), which examined public relations challenges and opportunities, has now shown that high levels of optimism exist amongst its members regarding business perspectives for 2023.

Held online, across all 48 global members, the results showed that 80% anticipated business growth, 17% a maintenance of the current outlook and only 3% considering that it will be worse than in 2022.

Bearing in mind that this survey was held post 2022; post the Covid-19 epidemic and during a time of economic uncertainty exacerbated by war in the Ukraine, the data above is promising. It shows that many communications agencies have not only been able to keep pace with technological developments, but are also able to assist their clients to embrace this world.

...the happier one’s staff are, the more productive and committed they are.

Key findings include:

  • Biggest opportunities for PR in 2023
  • Amongst the biggest opportunities for the PR industry in 2023 are environment, social and governance (ESG) – 28%, integrated communication strategies – 24%, and CEO profiling/thought leadership – 19%. More traditional PR elements such as corporate reputation, brand PR and events scored far lower on the opportunity scale.

  • Services with opportunities for growth
  • To tackle the previous issues and challenges of the last few years as well as other impacts on communication such as artificial intelligence (AI) – 25% of respondents consider strategic communication and PR consultancy as the major services with opportunities for growth. This was followed by social media and digital communications – 14%, issues and crisis management and change management – 13%, digital strategy – 11%, and media relations – 9%.

  • Industry sectors with more opportunities for PR
  • Deciding on the big data, telling stories as accurately as possible, enhancing employee engagement, media coverage and organic earned content, among others, can be fostered for the industry sectors with more opportunities for PR.

    Respondents considered the major industry sector opportunities to lie with energy and utilities – 17%, and technology – 15%, followed by ex-aequo consumer goods, health and wellness, travel and tourism, hospitality and aviation all coming in at 9%.

  • The areas agencies expect to invest in during 2023
  • Trustworthiness, sociability, upskilling, and leading conversations are required attributes for PR agencies to address client needs and expectations. Accordingly, the main areas that respondents expect to invest in this year are staff training and retention and employee engagement – 16%, technology and media production – 9%, creativity – 7%, ex-aequo multimedia content production, measurement and analytics, and owned communication and marketing – 6%.

  • Biggest challenges for PR in 2023
  • Personal growth, reward, and work-life balance are constructs of a successful brand: the happier one’s staff are, the more productive and committed they are. As economic uncertainty may stretch budgets, and to keep reassuring consumers with positive responses, integrated PR strategies are more fundamental than ever. In line with this, respondents stated the biggest challenges for the PR industry in 2023 will be the retention and attraction of talent – 36%, client confidence to invest due to an uncertain economic outlook – 26% and the impact of inflation and interest rates on consumer behaviour – 17%.

    Respondent countries included Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and USA.

    About Nicole Capper

    Nicole Capper is managing director of Mango-OMC and regional head of Africa on the IRPN Media Committee.

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