Monday, October 05, 2009

Australian PR and social media we stack up versus the world?

I had the great opportunity last month to travel to New York, London & Hong Kong for a conference and meetings with clients, partner firms and potential clients. While it was good to bring new ideas home to the BlueChip team and our clients, it was even better to get a sense of how what we do stacks up globally.

In fact, there are some areas where our niche financial services PR firm leads the world.

First, some observations on the state of financial services PR globally. Given the year gone, I found businesses (clients and consultants) in better shape than I expected. Generally staff numbers are down and margins are squeezed, or in some cases non-existent. Still, those businesses seem to have come through in good shape. If anything there's more focus on results and less on largesse. Those reliant on bonuses are feeling the pinch, while some others are pushing ahead with small scale expansion into offshore markets - a sign of hope rather than desperation.

Secondly, every one is stretched. Again, both clients and consultants are having to do more with less. Not too many are hiring, and the work is still there. That means more pressure on fewer people.

Finally, it seems almost everyone is has, or is starting to, lift their gaze from the few feet immediately in front on them and think "longer term" and "bigger picture".

Of course the first movers were doing that months ago. And that brings me to a couple of exceptions. There were some businesses I met who throughout all the uncertainty were either less affected or just more focussed. Those people have taken a once in a lifetime opportunity to move in this market.

We first saw and heard these sorts of clients in quarter 1 of the calendar year. People who were determined to make the most of the current market, and to use proactive PR as a way to build their brand.

As Australians we've seen more green shoots than offshore colleagues whose economies have had a way harder time of it.

What did surprise was how far head our firm appears to be in social media (particularly online pr) knowledge.

Wealth management (even retail) is a bit of a laggard when it comes to social media. I did think I'd learn more about social media in financial services in my travels.

What I found was that what we've developed at BlueChip is pretty much as good as it gets for wealth management social media.

And therein lies the beauty and the devil of the online world. A Sydney PR person can know more about the latest US online PR expert than those in his own country.

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