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Economist Claims of PR Industry Success Overrated

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The PR industry went gaga after last week’s story in The Economist heralding “increased corporate demand for PR.”

The success and growth of the industry, played up in the article in part because PR has benefited by providing counsel to beleaguered corporate institutions, is countered by the fact that all holding companies reported down or flat numbers for their PR divisions in 2009.

One PR pro wondered why the industry wasn’t there before the corporate meltdown of 2009 and not just afterwords to clean it up.

“Was corporate communications a dissenting voice when Goldman Sachs decided to advise clients to buy mortgage-backed securities, while lightening up on them for its own investment purposes? Was a reputation officer at the table when the Big Three auto companies planned their remarks and (private jet) trips to D.C. for the government bailout hearings…let alone along the road that led them there? I don’t know, but I doubt it,” wrote Crenshaw Communications founder Dorothy Crenshaw in a blog post.

PRNewser has spoken with a number of corporate executives who see value in doubling down on more “cost effective” marketing solutions such as PR in a recession, however most agency owners will be reluctant to tell you things are as they were before the recession.

To be fair, The Economist story did mention numbers were down for many firms, but overall painted a rosy picture for the industry. If it didn’t, we would have likely seen less Tweets and re-blogs excitingly linking to the story.

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