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The competitive landscape for American public relations firms has never been tougher.
The past few years have seen dramatic changes in the way companies communicate with their key stakeholders, a blurring of the lines between consumer and corporate communications, an increase in the number of channels, and a shift in the balance between paid, owned, and earned media channels.
As a result, more and more agencies are competing for clients’ communications dollars: advertising agencies, digital specialists and even management consulting firms are beginning to offer services that would traditionally have been considered part of the PR agency’s responsibility.
At the same time, of course, those changes are creating new opportunities for public relations firms to expand their own offerings. Most of the firms profiled in this year’s Report Card now offer a wide range of digital and social media strategies in addition to their historic expertise in mainstream media relations. Some offer experiential communications, a range of content creation services--including digital, video, print and more--and are even creating advertising campaigns.
The growth of the PR industry in 2012—we estimate that the North American business as a whole grew by close to 10 percent—indicates that despite what continues to be a tough economy, public relations agencies are benefiting more from the opportunities of this new age, rather than suffering as a result of new challenges. But there is no doubt that agency leaders will need to remain attuned to shifts in the media landscape and changing client expectations if they are to continue to thrive in the new communications environment.
Paul Holmes, Editor-in-Chief, The Holmes Report