The Slovenia Times

Creating Opportunities



In the years of economic boom, Slovenian business PR services thrived. Some saw it as easy money - especially in a country where people like to see their name in the paper, whether the news is good or bad. But the reality was that the industry was already facing a significant change: the rise of new media. The power of traditional means of communication was suddenly dwarfed by the collective power of the internet - first blogs, podcasts, now Facebook and Twitter. PR professionals had to find new ways to represent clients in the best possible light.

More money, less money

Just as the industry had started to grapple with that challenge came a new one: recession. Whether clients cut or increased budgets, one factor remained constant - they expected value for money more than ever before.

"Since the recession, clients have become more careful when choosing their PR representation," says Barbara Tomšič of the Etre PR agency. "They are also becoming more demanding. For the money they pay, they want innovative and well researched campaigns."

"Without a doubt the coming years are going to be demanding because clients have higher expectations," a spokeswoman for the PR consultancy SPEM says.

But both organisations see the situation as an exciting creative challenge.

"For us, this [situation] mainly means being creative and fresh when it comes to looking for new means of communication," SPEM say.

Ms Tomšič believes it leads to a stronger bond between agency and customer.

"The agency is actually able to delve deeper into a brand, follow the brand, and thus have better communication with the client," she says.

Only the strongest will survive

Inevitably, not all agencies will be able to develop this kind of relationship.

"What will set apart the PR winners from the losers is a deep understanding of clients' business needs, their business reality and an ability to adapt PR services [to them] with proven and measurable effects," says Marjeta Tič Vesel, PR director at communications/consulting firm Pristop.

Large companies are diverting their attention from traditional marketing platforms to new media where costs are significantly lower so it will be vital for PR firms to have mastered new media

Size doesn't matter

In Slovenia, many of the agencies facing these challenges are relatively small. It might seem that such organisations - already dealing with limited resources before the economic downturn - don't stand a chance of weathering the storm. But so far that's not proved to be the case. Again, challenges seem to result in creativity.

"I don't think the size of the company is a measurement for success," comments Ms Tomšič of Etre PR. "Maybe in smaller companies employees are under more pressure but they are also more creative since they get straight into the project rather than having the briefing session delays one has in a bigger company."

Trust me

And with the status of corporate managers falling greatly during these economic difficulties - a recent poll published by Finance Daily showed that only 48% of the general public in Slovenia trust corporate managers - there are plenty of opportunities for PR teams to unleash that creativity. Increasing numbers of companies are turning to public relations professionals to repair their damaged public images.

"Last year the demand for internet communication, management of social media, crisis communication, conflict management, and internal communication all increased," explains SPEM. "Crisis communication is often the reason for hiring a PR agency."


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