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Editorial by Paul Holmes
It was a difficult year for the public relations industry globally, and the Asia-Pacific region felt the impact of the world economic crisis, particularly in the first half of the year. So instead of the robust double-digit growth of recent years, most agencies saw revenues stay flat or decline by a few percentage points in 2009—although most were reporting the beginnings of a rebound by the end of the year, and cautiously predicting a return to modest growth for 2010.
Despite the difficult economic environment, there was some good news for the industry (we detail several reasons for optimism on page xx of this report). There was greater interest in digital and social media—a trend that promises to move public relations closer to the center of the marketing communications mix—and continued interest in CSR and sustainability issues. As a consequence, PR agencies found themselves called upon to handle a wide range of more complex strategic assignments. The best of them have become corporate counselors, not simply providers of publicity and events.
We saw the evidence of this in our first Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards competition, which attracted several hundred entries from across the region. The campaigns we saw included impressive work in the brand-building, corporate reputation, crisis and issues management, change communications and public
policy arenas, and the best of them were as good as the best work we have seen in our longer-running North American and EMEA region competitions.
Finally, there is exciting evidence that Asia-based companies, from emerging markets such as China and
India as well as established economies such as Japan and Korea, are beginning to take PR as seriously as their western counterparts. As these companies look to play an even larger part in the global economy, they will need the advice of seasoned PR professionals to help them tell their brand stories, manage a myriad of controversial issues, and meet changing standards of governance.
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