A propósito da Edelman, vale muito a pena atender áquilo que David Brain, CEO para a EMEA aconselha aos que gerem os destinos das consultoras de PR. Conselho ssábios de quem anda há muito neste negócio e que já passou pelos piores tempos da indústria:
>Get your business in shape now. PR people are always optimistic that this win or this new project will bring in the revenue that will hide the costs they are carrying and deliver the right profit. Maybe in good times, but easy wins will be harder to find. If you are not making the right profit now, take the hard decisions now because they will be harder the longer you leave them.
>Don’t assume that the existing revenue you have committed will be there. Discount it by sector (high if its financial services or pharma) and by the quality of your relationship/offer.
>Scrub the cost base. Don’t accept last year’s costs and then add a percentage.
>Look at everything and haggle with suppliers and renegotiate.
>Incentivise your financial team to find cost savings. They will love it and they will find them.
>Have a biscuit policy. Find something symbolic to cut that is high profile but not really that important to the business and cut it to drive home the message that we are entering different times that require a different attitude (from everyone). At one firm in my past I became unbelievably unpopular for banning biscuits at internal meetings (pathetic I know but you get the point).
>Big clients that have low margin may be an OK thing because they cover a lot of your fixed costs. Small clients that have low margin are not. Shoot them dead. And then shoot them again to make sure.
>Credit-rate all your clients and re-set terms with them now that mean, as far as possible, that cash arrives as the hours are spent working on them.
>Check your debtors levels. Set the dogs loose now on those behind and incentivise your financial teams to reduce your average debtor days.
>You can’t hire your way out of a downturn so don’t plan revenues around new mystery superstar joiners.
>Identify the people that really bring in revenue and hold onto clients. They may well be the quiet ones you don’t always notice as the stars.
>Your biggest asset is your existing client base. Check now the relationship and get it sorted because our clients will be asked to look for savings and you need to be part of the discussion on that rather than get a nasty surprise from a client who feels safe to cut you because they don’t know or rate you.
>Identify those sectors that will grow . . . . we are placing our bets now on these and investing pretty heavily despite fears for some European markets.
Hone the case for PR. If you are in consumer PR now is the time to dust off the case for why advertising just does not cut it and why what we do is so much more cost-effective (through us, the client can do better for less). Remember, the ad boys still account for most of the budget and a 10 per cent shift from them to us will have a big impact.
>Refresh and re-define the practice areas that will help clients in their downturns; employee engagement, crisis management, CEO communications for example.
If you are at a mid manager level in your firm, check that you and your team make as near as you can to three times (at least 2.5 times) your total employee costs in fees. If you are not then develop a plan to get there.
For anyone in the business who has assumed that pay rises turn up every year and are always ahead of inflation . . . . those days (in the UK at least) could well be over. But if you can be become a person who brings in fees and manages to a profitable level this could be the time your career really takes off. There are a lot of mediocre companies and a lot of mediocre talent in our industry now and a short, sharp recession will sort the quality from the rubbish.