London has been at the heart of the PR industry and home to the UK’s leading creative talent for decades. It is a communication hub linking agencies and businesses from all over the globe. It’s place on the PR landscape will always be significant, however, with the growth of tech and top-quality talent wanting to move outside the M25 (especially to the South West), isn’t it time we started recognising and exploiting opportunities elsewhere? Increasingly today, the key differentiator for clients is no longer location, but the talent and passion of the agency they work with – and this can be sourced nationwide.
Quality PR is hugely reliant on the ability of the industry to harness the best talent. However, as graduates steer clear of rocketing London prices, and experienced marketing and PR professionals opt for a slower pace of life outside the capital, there is a danger of missing out on this talent. Stats show graduates are increasingly choosing to start their careers in cities such as Manchester and Bristol, with the latter being named the fourth best city for graduates. Its quick links to London and top-quality talent pouring out of the university mean agencies have a huge amount to exploit. It must be in our interest to appeal to these new entrants and facilitate jobs for experienced professionals across the UK.
Not only this, but technology and accessibility to clients and media has moved on. While traditional press will always form a large chunk of PR, there is no longer the need to network with journalists everyday. Media relations tools have dramatically changed how we source coverage, and advances in technology mean we can check-in with clients from anywhere in the world. As a result, businesses are far more willing to shop around outside London. For most brands, the key factor when deciding on an agency is the combination of skill set and fit – an agency should feel like an extension of the business. They want an agency that will be proud to work for their brand and if that means working with someone outside the M25, this is no longer an issue.
Big consultancies in London are under constant pressure. This can sometimes mean smaller businesses might feel frustrated with the lack of service by larger London agencies, who might prioritise their bigger retainers. For these smaller enterprises, regional and more focused agencies can be more suited to delivering exactly what they need and give them more bang for their buck.
Cost also comes into play here. Budgets stretch much further outside London. Salaries are lower as well as rent, meaning fees can be too. This allows clients to source award-winning PR often at a cheaper rate, while also feeling more prioritised and serviced.
To thrive, we must open ourselves to opportunities nationwide. The future of the UK PR industry rests on our ability to recruit the right talent and adapt to the changes currently happening. If we learn to embrace these changes, we will move in the right direction to fuelling and investing in the future of PR regardless of location.