London is the undisputed king in UK PR land. In fact, it’s probably number one in the world when you consider the number of world-class agencies and practitioners, scale of budgets and creativity in the capital. That’s not to say that great work doesn’t happen elsewhere in the UK. Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham are just three cities that are home to some fantastic PR people, in an agency and in-house capacity.
Northern Ireland isn’t a place that’s often associated with industry-leading PR minds, but it should be. There are lots of great things about being based here, including:
We love a clever idea. Northern Ireland folk invented (among other things) the penalty kick, the pneumatic tyre and the defibrillator. The Titanic was built in Belfast. I know what you’re thinking, but she was fine when she left here…
This creativity extends to our PR industry and helps local practitioners to stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone when it comes to constructing engaging, award-winning ideas. Evidence of this can be seen by the growing number of Northern Ireland agencies scooping national accolades for their work. As well as Clearbox’s PRCA Best New Consultancy Award win in 2015, our industry friends at JPR and Aiken PR have also recently won national recognition for their campaigns.
Northern Ireland is fast becoming one of the UK's creative hubs with the digital media, film, television and music industries flourishing in recent years. Such a strong creative environment offers a great platform for PR to grow and evolve.
The cost of living in Northern Ireland is less than in most other places in the UK, which offers advantages for the business of PR. Overheads and salaries cost less than in the mainland, a saving that can be passed on to clients. Working directly with clients or in partnership with an agency based in the UK, we can offer top quality, engaging campaigns at an attractive price.
Our currency is also beneficial, with simple geography and the good old pound meaning we can work in the UK and Ireland, billing in a single currency. No Euro transaction fees offers more cost savings for clients based in London and Dublin.
Something that has held us back in recent years, Corporation Tax is set to change in 2017 when Northern Ireland’s new 12.5% rate kicks in. We’ll be in a much stronger position to attract global businesses to the province, which in turn will hopefully bring more opportunities for PR professionals across the country. Agency owners will be pretty happy about the new rate too.
A surprising fact to some but not to anyone who’s ever been, Northern Ireland is a friendly place. The people are generally easy-going and relaxed about life. This transcends into the media too. They’re a friendly bunch. Northern Ireland lacks the cut-throat atmosphere of other PR hotspots, which can only be a good thing, right?
While the currency, the craic and the creativity are all big plus points, there are also some challenges around working in PR in Northern Ireland.
The biggest issue faced by the PR industry stems from our population, or lack of. 1.8 million people live in Northern Ireland, compared to the 8.5 million living in London alone, which means the number of consumers here is a fraction of those on the mainland.
A smaller consumer marketplace brings challenges around budgets and willingness of certain brands, particularly some larger companies, to invest in communications campaigns here. Whilst we may not be a nation big on population, consumers in Northern Ireland are incredibly loyal to their favourite brands and the media here are supportive of engaging, brand-led news stories. For any brands that have a presence in Northern Ireland, but aren’t currently active in the media here, I’d encourage them to have a crack at it in 2016.
PR is thriving in Northern Ireland and it’s a fantastic thing to be a part of. For anyone who’d like to experience more about what we do here, jump on a plane and pay us a visit - it’s only an hour from London.
Leave it a few months though, unless getting drenched in gale-force winds is your thing…
Article written by Anna Morris, managing director of consumer PR agency Clearbox Communications
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