Independent public relations firms anticipate a rise in social media and research and a decline in media relations and advertising services over the next three years, according to a survey of members conducted by The Worldcom Public Relations Group, a partnership of independently owned communications counseling firms. More than 70 of Worldcom’s 104 offices responded to the survey.


“The results of this survey clearly demonstrate that public relations has moved multi-channel,” says Stefan Pollack, chair of the Worldcom Americas region and president of The Pollack PR Marketing Group, a Los Angeles-based firm. “From a trend perspective, clients are looking for firms that can deliver immediate impact with sustainable value.”


According to the survey, the services respondents expect the decrease to include: media relations (19 percent), advertising (17 percent), and direct mail and marketing (11 percent). In general, the majority of firms are optimistic about business increasing in the next three to five years.


An increase in multichannel services is a critical indicator for firms to move beyond media relations as a major source of revenue. More than half of the respondents expected social media, interactive/web development and search engine optimization services to increase: 93 percent, 73 percent and 61 percent, respectively. Yet obstacles still remain for firms to determine how to increase revenue from these services; particularly search engine optimization; for example, no agency reported more than 10 percent of revenue from SEO.


In addition, one-third of the Worldcom Europe, Middle East and Africa region and Asia Pacific region firms expect the percentage of work from their home countries to decrease. This represents an opportunity for global firms to acquire clients from beyond their home countries.


Additional key findings included investor relations and influencer/stakeholder relations as other significant areas of revenue, and 37 percent of firms in the Americas targeting specific cultural demographics. The most commonly cited was Latino/Hispanic, with 10 percent.