What are the key potential growth areas for PR this year?

What are the key potential growth areas for PR this year? According to recent research from business information and insight company Pearlfinders, PROs need to focus on becoming trusted digital advisers; retail PR; female stakeholders; and the world’s most wealthy consumers.

Discussing the key findings of this year’s Pearlfinders Index, Mike Thorne, product director and editor at Pearlfinders says: “The most important trend to note is the increased demand from brands for external strategic counsel from PR professionals. From content strategy to online reputation, brands want a trusted advisor that will help them make the right choices in terms of comms channels and message – be it influencing fickle fashion vloggers, managing quick-to-twitter disgruntled shoppers or rebuilding the battered reputation of the financial services sector. These are three buoyant sectors, which represent significant growth opportunities for PR shops.”

Thorne says that retail PR, in particular, the supermarkets, will be a hotly contested battleground in 2015, with no clear winner yet identified in the squabble between discounters, mid-market leaders and higher-end players: “We think Tesco has weathered the worst of the storm, but it remains to be seen if it can recapture consumer trust by establishing a narrative of bona fide improvements in business practice. Agencies have an opportunity to guide increasingly nervous comms teams in this space, and drive profits in a year when consumers will have more cash in their pockets due to falling oil prices and likely pre-election giveaways by the incumbent administration.”

Another key area for improvement is how brands speak to women. Thorne explains: “It's clear that historically male-focused brands are still hesitant when it comes to establishing an effective discourse with female audiences. This was the case for a diverse split of businesses across sports and entertainment, engineering, telecoms and business services, although in fairness the IT and education sectors are proving more progressive in their targeting of women than was the case over the previous 12 months.”

“We see a major opportunity for agencies – not just in PR but across media planning, data segmentation and research and insights too – to robustly challenge the brand-side communications professionals setting this trend and help them to confidently communicate with their currently under-represented and under-serviced female stakeholders and customers.”








Discussing another key trend, Thorne says there is a big opportunity for PR agencies to win work with brands targeting high and ultra-high net-worth audiences, who are commanding a greater slice of global wealth than at any point in recent history (Oxfam grabbed the headlines recently with its research that soon, the richest 1% globally will have a higher net-worth than the rest of the 99% combined). Thorne concludes: “Whatever your agency's view on this from a sociological perspective, it's clearly a boon for sectors such as wealth management, high-end real estate and luxury apparel. We see a glut of work emerging this year for brands who can provide discrete yet accurate guidance on the media consumption habits of this new global elite."


Pearlfinders speaks to 10,000 marketing and PR decision-makers each year across Europe, the USA and Asia, spanning all industries to uncover areas of opportunity for every marketing services discipline. The Pearlfinders Index collects and analyses data from these interviews, to monitor key characteristics of the marcoms sector.

If you enjoyed this article, you can subscribe for free to our twice weekly event and subscriber alerts.

Currently, every new subscriber will receive three of our favourite reports about the public relations sector.

PR Masterclass: The Agency Growth Forum PRmoment Awards Winners 2023 Media Point PRCA CIPR Creative Moment ESG Awards