Arun Sudhaman 18 Jan 2013 // 1:34PM GMT
No fewer than seven research reports have landed on my desk this week, leading me to the scientific conclusion that January is the month where the threat of 'death by data' is highest. Thankfully, not all of the reports are completely mind-numbing. In this blog post and another, I will try and parse some of the more interesting findings, starting with a couple of studies that provide a useful contrast of PR fortunes in the UK and India. Granted, there is not a huge amount in common between the two countries' PR industries. One is mature, well-funded and viewed as extremely sophisticated, while the other is much younger and has to scrap considerably harder for budget and creative licence. Still, where would you rather work? Because, according to MSLGroup India's second annual 'PR in India' report, almost 80 percent of the industry expects double-digit growth in 2013, with 51 percent confident that the industry will expand by more than 20 percent. Those are bullish numbers indeed. Compare them with the PRCA's barometer for the fourth quarter of 2012, which is hardly depressing. Consultancies saw a tiny rise (two percent) in client budgets during the period, with 30 percent professing themselves 'optimistic' about the PR industry's prospects in the year ahead. 33 percent of the 100 respondents to the India report, meanwhile, say client budgets have increased, with 53 percent 'highly optimistic' about the year ahead. Given the differences in the two PR markets, it is probably wise to not read too much into the contrasting results. Still, they do confirm, yet again, that growth in emerging PR markets remains buoyant, amid some undoubted challenges. The MSLGroup report, for example, finds some specific issues that India's PR industry must confront - the never-ending talent crunch, a 'gulf' between fees and value, and difficulties in terms of measurement. We have examined some of these areas in the detail - notably under-valued agency fees; profound changes in skillset; and the reputation problems that afflict the industry - so MSLGroup should probably be applauded for offering some concrete recommendations that aim to address these challenges. The agency will also, presumably, avoid the controversy that dogged its inaugural report last year, when it decided to estimate agency revenues and ranked itself the country's second-biggest firm. This year, it has opted to estimate staff numbers instead, a less risky approach given the response that last year's efforts generated among its agency rivals.