Agile SMEs Can Outsmart MNCs in Public Relations Industry
Global PR Industry set to grow to USD 19.3bn by 2020
BR Communications, a PR Consultancy operating in the Middle East region has gained valuable insight into the evolving PR industry during its years of operation. One of these insights, the Dubai-based company has been surprised to note, is the momentum that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are gaining in the PR industry in comparison to Multinational Corporations (MNCs).
BR Communications, themselves, have experienced this shifting of the grounds when large clients have opted to sign on with them, moving away from traditional MNCs and other long-standing organizations in the PR industry.
“Running a SME is very challenging, however, we have taken care to ensure that we include and promote creative solutions for our clients’ requirements. It has been easier for us to experiment using different media platforms, and designs for our clients’ campaigns because we are small and flexible. This is what sets us apart from MNCs from an organizational standpoint,’’ commented Mr. Bahaa Fatairy, MD BR Communications.
This does not mean that MNCs are incapable of adapting to changes but because of entrenched systems and processes, responding and adapting to changes are generally slower than SMEs.
According to the Global Communications Report (GCR), conducted by the Holmes Report and USC Annenberg’s Centre for Public Relations, the global PR industry is set to grow to USD 19.3 billion by 2020. However, this growth is stimulated by specific changes in the industry. The primary driver of growth in PR according to both client-side and PR-practitioner respondents of the GCR, is content creation. A staggering 80% of respondents cited this category as been the most important in PR and the most difficult to attain.
Content too, needs to be original and informative “The days where a press release was the most important form of PR are coming to an end. In their current form, press releases are only effective if they truly contain primary data and information about and from a company that cannot be obtained from elsewhere,’’ suggests Mr. Fatairy. Opinion pieces, feature articles, and interviews all serve the purpose of creating thought leadership around a company, its brand, and its employees.
A total of 75% of respondents ranked digital media as the next most important driver of growth in PR. For agencies this means that content needs to be drafted into various forms, especially short and concise structures. One popular method being utilized are infographics, that can be shared on platforms such as Twitter, Pinterest, and lead back to long-form articles, ‘’But at the same time traditional media such as print and television should not be forgotten,’’ cautioned Mr. Fatairy.
“Unlike in previous times, social and digital media, and in general the access to the internet have made fact-checking of information extremely easy. So content creation must absolutely adhere to true information, that is not embellished and not extravagant in description,” stressed Mr. Fatairy. It would be a PR disaster if the information shared by a company and fact-checked by a curious customer is less than true.
Two other important findings in the GCR is the nature of PR budgets and the staffing requirements. PR budgets are increasing but at a slow-rate according to the report, but the increments come with more specific requirements. Employment and staffing needs are changing to focus on individuals who are creative, capable of critical thinking, and writing clearly, and the onus is on the PR firm to retain, retrain, and engage these employees.
These may sound like everyday challenges that most organizations face, but SMEs by their very nature are better structured to offer cheaper packages than MNCs given the total operational costs of MNCs and are also more capable of attracting, hiring, and retaining creative talent given their organizational structure. “An important variable in attracting and retaining talent is in offering them ownership, and flexibility as part of their job descriptions,” commented Mr. Fatairy.
The small organizational structure, lower overheads, agility, and entrepreneurial spirit of SMEs make these organizations big contenders for a huge piece of the PR industry pie!