Posts Tagged ‘Matthew Freud’

PR in the Downturn

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008 by Rob Brown

Batten down the hatches, most pundits are agreed, recession is here.  Forget the US rule of thumb that we have to register two successive quarters of negative GDP – we’ve already had one quarter of zero growth and all indicators suggest that contraction is underway.  That means that marketing budgets will be slashed and PR will be amongst the first to feel the chill. 

Well it’s not that simple.   Public Relations is not recession proof but it’s not usually the hardest hit either.  Companies that hold their marketing budgets in a downturn are the ones that fare best.  Harvard Business School professor John Quelch said in March this year that it is a well documented fact that brands that increase their spend in a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and the return on their investment.  There will be pressure on budgets but the smart money will still be there.

PR companies are going to play a key role in advising clients on how to navigate very difficult and for some uncharted waters.  There will be complex messages to deliver.   More than ever when times are taxing the media needs substance not fluff. 

I’ve always believed that PR thrives on the ideas and enthusiasm of its young.  It is a vital industry and the particular zeal of its youthful practitioners is a crucial part of every agency.  When the economy is in ‘bust’ business must turn to experience.  The UK largely escaped the 2001 global recession so the last time we were in a situation approaching the current one was nearly twenty years ago.   PR in the current climate won’t be seeing grown men and women running around city centres dressed as creme eggs.   Chief executives will need the knowledge and experience from PR people that were around the last time.  They will need strategic counsel and there will be growth in corporate PR and in crisis and issues management. 

When he was a young knife Matthew Freud, probably the world’s most well connected PR person said “there’s nothing sadder than a 40-year-old PR person”.  Matthew is chairman of Freud Communications. He’s 45.

A version of this article first appeared in the Manchester Evening News on Tuesday 28th October 2008.

About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of 'Share This Too' (2013).