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What are PR agency CEOs biggest business headaches right now?

This month, The Pulse Business have run some research on what is causing PR agency CEO’s their biggest business headaches currently. With answers ranging from growth, to measuring client satisfaction, to staff churn, the insightful findings can be found below.

63% of PR & Comms Agency CEOs are grappling with new ways to grow their businesses while 17% are preoccupied by staff churn according to our latest PR & Comms Growth Tracker.

One agency leader based in Asia said "New ways to grow our agency's business will always be our main concern, because if we don't, we will be stuck as a ‘small PR agency that only does limited PR’. In this industry adding services that can be integrated into marketing and comms programs is the key to success. No longer are the days where clients only asked for media relations…"

Another Agency owner feels the heat from trying to convert leads into real sales "Clients and prospects feel a bit hesitant. Identifying opportunities that are real and then converting them is even more of a challenge than ever."

Questions need to be asked as to what is stopping clients from signing off on campaigns and budgets - is this due to time pressure or simply poor etiquette?

Q: Which one of these, if any, feels like your biggest business headache right now?

Sample size: c450 C-suite of PR & Comms agencies based in the UK & internationally

The Pulse Business

This Strategic Comms Consultant shared this powerful observation "The PR industry continues to struggle with clients who don’t understand our value propositions, our ethics, and our precise role in driving business success. Until the PR industry bodies achieve real traction in educating the larger global business sector of those principles, then agencies will continue churning / burning excessive, largely uncompensated energies in trying to educate clients about principles clients should already know."

While in-house behaviour isn’t exactly delighting some, there’s also the internal pressure of managing the inevitable departure of key team members and the impact this has on clients and team structures. One UK-based Managing Director had this to say:

"This challenge is more about recovering from 2023. Our churn and overall change so far this year is minimal, but with pay freezes and general economic challenges last year, our staff churn was higher. It means we’re still onboarding new joiners, and clients are still getting used to new team members. Equally on the client-side, we have a lot of new clients where old clients were made redundant and we now report into CMOs etc. It’s all change.

“But, what I would say is that on the agency side, some of the churn has been positive. We had a lot of people in the business who’d been here 7+ years from AE. That’s stabilising but doesn’t bring diversity of thought, and it can breed a “grass is greener” feeling. New joiners are incredibly talented and clients love them. So while it’s a challenge, it’s a positive one."

Looking ahead, the indication is that sleeves must be rolled up to deal with the market environment, especially in tech. And with the General Election looming, who is to know where we will land once the votes are in. This CEO gave food for thought on this:

"The market is still a little depressed so the biggest challenge is how and when to invest to drive maximum growth as the economy recovers. Or realistically IF the economy recovers. With politicians focussed on the election and their personal futures, rather than the good of the country, it’s hard for businesses to have confidence in the near future."

This research was conducted by The Pulse Business with a sample size of 450 PR & Comms Agency leaders based in the UK or internationally, in April 2024.

Article written by Imogen Osborne, owner at The Pulse Business

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