Brunnen Communications – viestintätoimisto

PRBI Barometer 2024: Crisis communication enters top three most requested services – media relations and communication strategies maintain leading positions

In 2024, as in the previous year, organizations will predominantly seek guidance from strategic communication agencies on media relations and communication strategies. Notably, crisis communication has unexpectedly risen to third place this year, surpassing content production and social media services.

Agencies recognize the increasing demand for crisis communication services is driven by global events, different crises, and a heightened awareness of crises due to economic and political uncertainty.

This year, 93 percent of respondents believe that the demand for communication services will either grow or remain the same. This outlook is slightly more positive than last year, as only 7 percent (2023: 13%) expect a decline in demand. Additionally, 80 percent of respondents anticipate that communication budgets will remain unchanged this year, a significant increase from 40 percent in the previous year.

The latest PRBI Barometer results indicate that in a challenging economic environment, outsourced communication services are becoming increasingly strategic. Clients of communication agencies continue to value expertise in media relations, as well as goal-oriented and influential strategic communication. Furthermore, the importance of anticipation and crisis management is increasingly emphasized.

According to the Barometer, companies are increasingly supplementing their communication capabilities with carefully sourced projects this year. Project-based collaborations with communication agencies now constitute 43% of all partnerships (2023: 25%), equaling the proportion of annual or so-called retainer-fee contracts at 43% (2023: 56%). The incidence of open hourly billing has remained relatively stable, at 14% this year compared to 13% last year.

Eighty percent of respondents predict growth in ESG services, reflecting organizations’ increasing sustainability obligations. ESG clients value media visibility and seek media training, as well as strategic support for sustainability communication.

Respondents have also observed that the media landscape has become faster-paced and more unpredictable. Actively monitoring news and responding quickly has become increasingly important, making the support of communication agencies indispensable.

“The increasing demand for crisis communication services is evident at Brunnen as well. More and more, exceptional situations involve reputational risks, often due to data breaches or the unpredictable behavior of stakeholders. In these instances, an external communication agency with expertise in managing stakeholder expectations becomes an invaluable partner. Reputation is also linked to sustainability and ESG communication, which some organizations still approach with unnecessary hesitation”, says Taru Nikulainen, Managing Director at Brunnen.

International PRBI Barometer guides communication leaders

The annual PRBI Barometer, which surveys communication agencies in over 40 countries, reveals changes and trends in the demand for communication services.

Developed by Brunnen, this international communication barometer has been conducted for four consecutive years. It helps decision-makers understand global investment trends in communication services and the expectations from communication agencies. The survey data aids organizations in evaluating their communication priorities and development needs, while also driving service providers to enhance their offerings and improve client service quality.

Brunnen will publish the next edition of the barometer in spring 2025.

PR Boutiques International (PRBI) is a global network of over 40 communication agencies in more than 40 countries across five continents. Its members are privately-owned agencies specializing in strategic communication. Brunnen is part of the PR Boutiques International network and its only Finnish member.

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