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Francis Ingham on the PRmoment podcast: “The majority of PR agency employees who have been furloughed are likely to be made redundant”

This week, in the latest of our PR Reset series about how the PR world and the wider economy might reset post the Covid-19 lockdown, I’m talking to PRCA director general Francis Ingham.

It’s explosive stuff, the highlights are below, but Ingham believes approximately 5,000 UK PR people are likely to be made redundant and claims “The majority of people on furlough within our industry have no idea what’s coming their way”.

Ingham also reveals the PRCA will come out of the Covid lockdown about 25% down in revenue year on year.

Here’s a summary of what Francis and I discussed:

1.15 mins “The PR sector has taken a hit (from Covid-19) and there are further hits coming”.

1.54 mins The PR industry is currently in a recovery stage

2.03 mins “The majority of people who on furlough are going to be made redundant”.

3.55 mins “The majority of people within furlough within our industry have no idea what’s coming their way”.

4.35 mins “The industry is going to be hit hard and it’s not through the worst of it yet”.

5.25 mins Ingham predicts that of the 100,0000 people who work in UK public relations, 10-20,000 of those were furloughed and roughly half of those will be made redundant. So potentially 5,000- 10,000 people.

6.00 mins The sector, in terms of the number of people it employs, is going to return to the levels of three years ago.

6.20 mins The medium-term prospects for the sector are good but there is “a great deal of pain to come.”

7.20 mins Many agency heads either don’t realise the end of the year is going to be tougher than the start of the year, or they are putting out unreasonably optimistic messaging”.

9.30 mins On redundancies: “In the next week or so many PR firms will begin the consultation process with a view to losing people at the beginning of August.”

11.20 mins How in-house PR teams are “busier than ever, but are certainly spending less money.”

14.40 mins Why the healthcare, corporate and public affairs sectors are bullish about business currently.

16.20 mins Ingham says: “The recovery we’re seeing in Asia can give us a degree of optimism.”

18.53 mins “When we look back in five years’ time at this period and its impact on public relations, the greatest problem coming out of Covid may be the further decline of the media”.

23.15 mins “The problem now is the accrued debt that has got to be repaid, that is the key issue affecting our industry”.

24.10 mins The PRCA “is going to come out of the crisis smaller... we’ll end this financial year about a quarter smaller than we began it. And that will be sad for me... It was a pretty dramatic drop off a cliff.”

26.40 mins When asked for a prediction on the prospects for the UK economy, Ingham says “He has no idea! And anyone who says they have is making it up as they go along. But you can prosper during recessions.”

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