The public relations consultancy sector will grow in 2011, according to consultancy heads and directors across 19 countries responding to the International Communications Consultancy Organisation’s first Quarterly Trends Barometer survey.


A vast majority (83 percent) of respondents expect the PR consultancy business to grow in 2011 compared to the previous year. The remaining 17 percent expect stable conditions, with no respondents believing the business will shrink this year.


An even larger majority (90 percent) see digital communications as a key area for expansion. Other disciplines cited for growth include: corporate/strategy and crisis and issues management (both at 49 percent), as well as public affairs (46 percent) and consumer/brand marketing (44 percent). Event management shows the least potential for growth, with a score of just 10 percent.


In terms of specific industries, 86 percent of respondents internationally expect organisations in the energy and environment sectors to increase their PR budgets this year, 54 percent view the health and wellness industry as a strong candidate for growth, while a further 50 percent expect bigger budgets from internet and telecommunications companies. The food & nutrition and IT/technology industries also score highly, at 46 percent and 45 percent respectively.


By contrast, very few respondents expect to see growth in PR budgets from more traditional sectors such as real estate, manufacturing or retail, all of which score below 15 percent.


Respondents felt the biggest challenge for PR consultancy in 2011 is pricing and profitability; 45 percent view this as the single biggest issue for the success of their business this year.