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Half of agency leaders are positive about their 2024 prospects

"The market is more active this year with real opportunities and more realistic briefs,” says one global CEO as optimism gears up for the year ahead. "We have had a strong new business start to the year and this trend has continued into mid-February. There's an air of optimism,” adds another senior leader in the latest PR and comms agency growth tracker looking at confidence levels around fee income in 2024.

Negatives as well as positives

But then it’s never all rosy.

One PR and comms agency leader notes: “Whilst the political landscape currently lends itself to PA/PR, the economic landscape does not. I fear that companies will be looking very cautiously at budgets and only spend what they perceive to be absolutely necessary”.

And the international view from one senior director based in Asia echoes this, too: " I am not feeling confident at all this year regarding fees and income due to the instability of the yen/USD currency exchange and also the low level of investment in PR that companies are hesitant to implement.”

One agency owner claims the state of play is very challenging: "Existing clients are cutting budgets by as much as 50%. Potential new clients are taking months to consider proposals, holding lengthy competitive pitch processes and making bizarre decisions, often changing the brief/moving the goalposts after the response.”

Perhaps the wisdom of this managing director provides an accurate barometer for how to judge what the market is doing: "Honestly - it's hard to call. We have a very strong pipeline - but client projects continue to be pushed back, and new business decision-making is still slow. The pipeline is a sign of opportunity, but the market is still in recovery, which means a pipeline isn't a guarantee even if a project is ‘almost signed off’ as clients often say. We're more confident than this time last year. However, our job at the moment is helping clients make the case for budget, proving ROI for everything we do, and in new business - going above and beyond to win but then making the case for speedy kick-off!"

Methodology

The source of these findings is The Pulse Business. Sample size: c450 PR and comms agency leaders based in the UK/internationally.

Written by Imogen Osborne, founder of The Pulse Business

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