The PR sector is a resilient one, and the last two years have tested it, but despite the many challenges, confidence levels are on the rise, according to regular surveys amongst ICCO agency members from insights consultancy Question & Retain. In April 2020 confidence levels were low, at 38% (very confident or confident), with 62% saying they were unsure or not very confident. Since then, there has been a steady increase with confidence levels now in the upper 80s (February 2022); a significant shift since the early days. Similarly, those saying they have low confidence has dropped down to just 3%.
This shows both the resilience and adaptability of comms teams. Leaders had to adapt and pivot their businesses as they faced lockdown, staff being required to work from home or having to furlough team members as client budgets were frozen/axed. All this against a constant background of uncertainty as to when this was all going to end. The role and profile of communications was elevated as agencies and clients alike worked hard to keep all the plates spinning, maintaining and galvanising their work cultures whilst continuing to serve their audiences. Effective comms had never been so important.
One global agency leader explains: “We've seen upwards of 30% year on year revenue growth over the past two years and we expect this to continue this year into next. New business is strong therefore we are confident of our pipeline.”
New working hours
In our latest Pulse Check we asked a topical question; “Are you contemplating a four-day week within no reduction in pay for your team?’
A striking example of how working environment and practices have changed in just 24 months. Pre-pandemic, this question might have seemed ‘right out there’ but now we see 33% are either ‘doing it already’ or are ‘considering it’ with many saying they could see it potentially helping to boost mental health and well-being, productivity, loyalty and ultimately retention.
As one leader put it: “One day a week should be for personal growth only which will help people to exceed in their work.”
And one early adopter commented: “We started a four-day week in 2019, with no reduction in pay, 32 hours per week Monday to Thursday. We have seen a 94% reduction in sick time since implementation.”
Food for thought. Agency leaders or in house teams who are more reticent or see the idea as a fad perhaps need more evidence of its benefits and to be reassured client service does not suffer.
Meanwhile those in the comms sector, whilst they cannot rest on their laurels, can be proud of how they have performed during the crisis and how the sector has gained more respect and value in so doing. Confidence among the comms sector continues to soar.
Question & Retain began to track agency confidence at the start of the Covid pandemic, taking a one-question Pulse Check among around 6,800 ICCO agency members across five continents, on a six-to-eight weekly basis.
Written by Annabel Dunstan, CEO of Question & Retain
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