Some people claim that, “PR is dead”. The American author Robert Phillips has even published a book entitled: “Trust Me, PR is Dead”. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case in Poland! Of course, PR agencies must compete with other advertising agencies or law firms, especially those that specialize in start-ups, and even with HR professionals. The latter are taking more and more areas that used to belong to communication specialists. This is connected with the phenomenon of employer branding, which is getting stronger and stronger as people born in the demographic decline period are entering the labour market.
However, the PR sector in Poland is doing rather well. Among new clients, there are not only companies, but also a growing number of individuals who want to take care of their online reputation.
The Internet, used by all communication specialists almost incessantly, has revolutionized the way of content consumption. On the other hand, the same specialists sometimes forget that PR means relations with other people. Still, the undeniable advantage of the Internet is the fact that it has given communication a completely different direction – it’s fast, interactive and available – all the qualities so appreciated by PR professionals. Broadcasters can widen their scope, and recipients are able to find what they want, in real time, globally. The PR industry has had to adapt to these changes.
1. Changes in agencies’ market
Not all Polish agencies have adjusted to the pace of change, which has resulted in a gap in traditional structures. At the beginning of the year, we saw the widely commented withdrawal in the PR market of the prize-winning Sigma agency, after 15 years activity in the PPRCA (Polish Public Relations Consultancies Association). The PPRCA president, Norbert Ofmański, said, “Challenges faced by agencies nowadays often go beyond the standard understanding of PR role and force us to develop completely new competences. Additionally, participation in the PPRCA is engaging and its members are expected to cooperate with applicable procedures of the industry professionalization, to become engaged in many social initiatives for the benefit of the PR market in our country”. Taking into account the number of entities offering PR services in Poland, membership of the PPRCA seems to have an elitist reputation and not all companies meet the high requirements to even be considered as candidates for membership.
After the rapid development of the industry in the last 15 years, nowadays there are a few hundred PR agencies in Poland that deal with reputation management. 30-40 of them are big agencies that earn millions of PLN a year, 100-150 are small and medium agencies while among the remaining there are small entities offering basic services, mainly media relations, for a few thousand PLN a month (the rates of big agencies are a minimum of PLN 10,000). The golden five of agencies in Poland include Partner of Promotion, MSLGROUP, Grayling Poland, Havas PR, Hill+Knowlton and 24/7Communication. These leading companies are on the top almost all the time. Apart from traditional structures there are new, dynamic teams emerging on the market, for example Tailor Made PR, which went to the top, thanks to the lifestyle sector, by focusing not on the relationship with the media, but on the cooperation with celebrities and bloggers.
2. Old and new media
The media market is shrinking, although one can observe a few successful débuts. Among them are „Pierwszy milion” (“The First Million”) – a magazine for start ups, „Kukbuk” – a sophisticated magazine for fans of good food or „Kreatywne” (“The Creative Ones”) – a magazine dedicated to Polish women who want to develop their own businesses, by sharing successful models and ideas from those who have already established themselves. According to a Polish Readership Survey, more than 90% of Poles still read the press. The number of press titles on the market totals 850. Two years ago, we observed the début of the Polish SaaS platform, used for communications with the media management company, Prowly.
3. High-reach blogosphere
New blogs are created every day. Polish blogosphere is growing, and is one of the areas most recommended to companies. However, one must pay for an appearance on a blog that reaches the greatest number of recipients. There are 6,139 influencers in the ‘Hash.Fm’ database, a tool that facilitates the promotion of companies in the blogosphere. One such example is the „Gala Twórców 2015”, which took place last year. This proved to be the most popular competition for Internet creators.
The emergence of new bloggers triggered the development of systems used for media monitoring. New entities responsible for network monitoring joined such organisations as PRESS-SERVICE Media Monitoring and Media Monitoring Institute GLOB, Newton Polska. Among Polish tools, there is Brand24, whose services were recently used by the White House. Newspoint, offers the widest range of Internet monitoring in Poland (cover): more than 10 thousand www services, 15 million social media sources, Facebook, Twitter, GoldenLine, Google +, YouTube, Instagram, NK, chat rooms and blogs.
4. Measuring problems
The benefit from cooperation with a blog influencer is quite easy to estimate, especially when this person offers to the community an attractive discount for a promo code. It is far more difficult to assess the value of PR agency activities. Dr Anna Miotk (http://annamiotk.pl/) is responsible for educating the sector on the measurement methods and tools in Poland. In spite of her efforts, the AVE advertising equivalent is still in use, although there are many doubts concerning this method. However, this is the only one!
The measurement of PR activities efficiency is a common problem. There is no universal method of measuring PR specialists’ work with the use of specific indicators, as in the case of e-marketing solutions. The MindProgress agency report, “Relationship between Effective Marketing and Efficient Sales” stated that every twentieth company in Poland relies on the use of PR in their marketing communications. For sure, activities where efficiency can be measured, are assessed better.
5. Traditional communication
Hence, PR is not dying, it is but changing under the influence of new challenges. Today, a PR specialist must be able to not only write and think in a strategic way, but also make videos, take photos, do interviews, analyse data and engage the community. Such a person must be a communicative genius who is up to date with new tools and technologies.
Only one thing is not changing. As we can see from the model presented by literary scholars, Francis-Noel Thomas and Mark Turner, in their book, “Clear and Simple as The Truth”, PR is still just traditional communication. The aim of PR and traditional communication is a presentation of the real activities of a company, while the reason for these activities constitutes an objective truth. In the case of traditional style, PR agencies must do their best to show recipients something worth showing, and the perspective from which they can see it. Traditional communication will never die, and it makes the world more attractive place