CORONAVIRUS NOT AN EXISTENTIAL CHALLENGE – A CLOSER LOOK AT THE PR INDUSTRY

Mark Read recently discussed with PRWeek how non-advertising industries like public relations have managed to cope better during the pandemic. The CEO of WPP admits that a decline in advertising spend has impacted their revenue, other segments of their business, such as public relations have seen added interest.

At the Advertising Week JAPAC on June 9th, Read stated that advertising may be their focus, other services are beginning to become more relevant to clients during the crisis. Read explains that public relations has moved further up their agenda and has been affected less so than other areas of business. WPP is now exploring how businesses can make it simpler for vulnerable groups to work with them and assessing their product offerings to ensure they meet the current demands of customers.

Read highlights that businesses can look beyond corporate advertising and is relatively optimistic about the future of WPP and what role it can play in the years to come. Read does indicate that the business remains cautious about investment and revenue, explaining that customers are not going to return quickly.

Read refers to the pandemic in three separate stages: react, recover and renew. The “react” stage involves how we manage a crisis and how we intend to communicate with people. For most, we are moving into a recovery stage which is more focused on how economies can recover, returning to the market and connecting with customers. The renew phase refers to how things will be significantly different and how businesses will respond to the changes we have all experienced. This includes considerable changes to the office environment, high streets, educational organisations and financial services industries. Read explains that businesses will have to look closer at how they operate and intend to adapt. WPP has been working on being capable of working faster, being more creative and agile.

Read highlights that many leaders are keen to continue the existing working practices in the future. Focusing on gaining a strong understanding of customer behaviour, creativity and innovation have become top priorities for many organisations. Read explains that prior to the pandemic many senior executives believed that remote working was a challenge, but the recent months have proven it can be productive. WPP is continuing to explore ways to reintroduce office working on a small scale and maintain the agility that has come from the crisis.