UK PR agencies see golden opportunity in Government’s extended communications freeze

UK PR agencies are getting excited about the unexpected possibilities for their discipline emerging from the Government’s devastating freeze on communications expenditure which, according to the Cabinet Office has resulted in a saving of £133m since it took office last May.

With the COI decimated and its chief Mark Lund deciding to go and do something more interesting elsewhere, there’s been general gloom among advertising and marketing agencies, especially when Chief secretary of the Treasury Danny Alexander announced the other day that “ a seismic shift in Whitehall’s spending culture is needed.”

Yet a small shaft of light has opened up for PR firms, who generally handle far cheaper campaigns than their advertising cousins. Among the detail of the extended freeze announcement came the relevation that central approval is now required for any campaign costing more than £100,000 rather than the previous £25,000.

Most proper admen wouldn’t get out of bed for £100k but in the PR world that’s a reasonable budget that can produce an effective campaign.

So the PR wizards are now dreaming of Whitehall banging on their doors in search of promotional campaigns below the central approval threshold which they can run without any meddling from above.

No doubt Sir Martin Sorrell, who is one of the marketing grandees advising the Government on how to restructure its communications spending, will be off buying a few more PR firms to add to his vast empire.

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About David O'Reilly

David is a former deputy editor of Campaign and writer for a number of leading titles including Management Today and the Sunday Times. He is a partner in The Editorial Partnership.