COVID-19 Research

A NEW STUDY REVEALS COVID-19’S IMPACT ON PUBLIC RELATIONS

By Samuel Sanusi

Covid-19 pandemic has dealt a devastating blow on global public health and the world of work. More fatalities are recorded every day. Lockdowns and working remotely are taking a toll on the mental health of the global population due to increased isolation. A joint statement issued by the International Labour Organization (ILO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and World Health Organization (WHO) in October 2020 also reveals that nearly half of the world’s 3.3 billion global workforce are at risk of losing their livelihoods. In fact, the economic and social disruption caused by the pandemic is unprecedented. The PR industry has not been spared.

What specific impact on PR?

Early in November 2020, the International Communications Consultancy Organization (ICCO), the global voice of the Public Relations Communication industry released its World PR Report 2020-2021 with the title, Agency Views of the Path Ahead. Theannual study done in conjunction with Opinium and Provoke Media reveals that 62 percent of PR firms sampled reported their campaigns were cancelled and that they expect a drop in fee income. Forty six percent of the respondents reported a loss of earnings, 40 percent said they had fewer pitches, 38 percent reported delays in payment and 35 percent said they had fewer retainers. More of the impacts are captured below:

How PR Services Fare

According to the report, Crisis Counsel tops the list of PR services in demand with 56 percent globally. Digital/Social/Online communications follow with 45 percent. Corporate Communication and Employee Communication stand at 31 percent and 30 percent respectively. The statistics below details the PR services that have increased or decreased in demand due to Covid-19:

Industry Sectors Badly Hit

Some industry sectors have been badly hit by the pandemic and some have been buoyant, the report notes. See the numbers below:

A Sunny Side for the PR Industry

Despite the challenges the PR industry is facing, the pandemic has brought some opportunities. According to the report, more CEOs are now taking their corporate reputations seriously as against what obtained before the pandemic. And a lot of companies are paying attention to corporate purpose. It explains why the demand for corporate reputation services saw the highest level of growth in the last 12 months (47%). This is a sign of great things to come for the industry and, perhaps, the reason respondents in the study are optimistic about the growth of the PR market in years to come.

About the Report

The ICCO’s World PR Report is a definitive study of the global PR industry. It provides PR agency leaders with vital information on the direction of the PR industry, and gives an analysis where it stands today, how it has performed in the past year and what may happen over the next few years.

—Samuel Sanusi is the Senior Manager, Operations and Programmes, The Bible Society of Nigeria.