We recently attended a lunch at Bank in Brindleyplace (very nice food!) with the PRCA Midlands group and representatives from PRCA HQ in London. The PRCA is putting a lot of time, energy and resource behind campaigning to see PR recognised as a professional industry and this includes media relations, some newly-launched qualifications and the Find a PR Agency service (FAPRA).
However, one of the most interesting titbits of information was the frequency with which briefs from companies in the Midlands are won by agencies outside the region or had been withdrawn.
Lunch table explanations for the Midlands’ lack of success included pricing, compatibility and client expectations. But, what about perceptions of the region?
Perceptions of the Midlands have changed radically over the last ten years. It is now a hub for business and professional services firms – in particular lawyers and accountants. Birmingham Forward has just celebrated 20 years of promoting the interests of the Birmingham business and professional services (BPS) sector and has a long list of achievements to show for it – not least the fact that Birmingham now ranks on the Cushman & Wakefield European Cities Monitor (something which didn’t happen ten years ago).
But, the creative sector in Birmingham (and the Midlands) is still not getting the recognition it deserves, in spite of a wealth of talent and leading agencies raising standards through techniques such as investing in the internationally recognised Consultancy Management Standard (CMS).
So, back to the original question, how does the Midlands stack up when it comes to professionalization in the PR industry? Honest answer – it is like every region (including London). You get some good, some bad and some average PR consultancies. If clients don’t feel confident that they can tell the difference, then I’d suggest they use a free independent service like Find A PR Agency to help.
Well in a bit of a shameless plug, we’re proud to say we’re bucking the trend and have won a nice piece of business through FAPRA – Atlantic Reach, a lovely holiday resort in Cornwall. Why? We’d like to think that it’s our commitment to raising standards, to achieving the CMS, to strong management and to investing in our staff. We’ll continue doing our bit to boost perceptions here in the midlands and as others follow suit, clients will have no reason to ignore the talent that is on their own doorstep.
[Obviously, it should be noted that the CIPR has also expended time, energy and resource to achieve the same goal and also runs its own qualifications.]