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London, 3rd August – Communications teams have seen their budgets increase for the first time this year, reveals the latest PRCA quarterly Barometer for the second quarter of 2012.

The results suggest that communications teams are starting to show signs of substantive recovery. Since its launch in 2011, the PRCA Barometer has only reported a reduction in budgets. Early economic data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests the UK economy shrank 0.7%, which makes the net 9% increase in budgets more impressive.

There was further good news for consultancies, as the reported net 9% increase in consultancy spend corroborated the Q2 Consultancy Barometer result that also pointed to increased client budgets.

Communications directors are becoming increasingly optimistic for their organisation (net 10% more optimistic) and for the PR and communications industry (net 10% more optimistic). They are also expecting to hire more staff (net 11% increase) and use more consultancies (net 2% increase).

Francis Ingham, PRCA Chief Executive, said: “These results are nothing short of remarkable in the current economic climate. However, we should not be completely surprised as the Consultancy Barometer pointed to an increase in budgets in the build up to the Olympics.

“The real test is still to come to see if budgets are maintained after the Olympics, and we must hope this isn’t a one-off as the wider economy continues to falter”.

Results

FOR THE PERIOD 1 APRIL TO 30 JUNE WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOUR PR/COMMUNICATIONS BUDGET?

Increased significantly 8%
Increased marginally 19%
Stayed the same 55%
Decreased marginally 15%
Decreased Significantly 3%

FOR THE PERIOD 1 APRIL TO 30 JUNE WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOUR PR/COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANCY SPEND?

Increased significantly 8%
Increased marginally 18%
Stayed the same 57%
Decreased marginally 12%
Decreased significantly 5%

HAS THE LAST QUARTER MADE YOU FEEL MORE OR LESS OPTIMISTIC FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

More optimistic 30%
The same 50%
Less optimistic 20%

HAS THE LAST QUARTER MADE YOU FEEL MORE OR LESS OPTIMISTIC FOR THE PR/COMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY?

More optimistic 25%
The same 52%
Less optimistic 23%

HOW DO YOU THINK THE GENERAL ECONOMIC CONDITION OF THE WIDER ECONOMY WILL CHANGE OVER THE NEXT 12 MONTHS?

Improve 28%
Stay the same 40%
Get worse 32%
Don't know 0%

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO STAFF NUMBERS IN THE NEXT QUARTER?

Staff numbers will increase 18%
Staff numbers will stay the same 75%
Staff numbers will decrease 7%

IN THE NEXT QUARTER WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE USE OF CONSULTANCIES RELATIVE TO THE PREVIOUS QUARTER?

Increase 20%
Decrease 18%
Stay the same 62%

IN THE NEXT QUARTER WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE USE OF FREELANCERS RELATIVE TO THE PREVIOUS QUARTER?

Increase 27%
Decrease 10%
Stay the same 63%

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU EXPECT TO HAVE OVER THE NEXT 12 MONTHS

Reduced budgets 18%
Shortage of skilled staff 19%
Increased costs 8%
Increased scope of team's responsibility 26%
Organisation's buy into PR and Comms 6%
Social Media Management 18%
Regulatory Environment 5%

Question ..........................................................................Q2 2012.........................Q1 2012.........................Q4 2011

What has happened to your Comms budget ........................... 9 ........................ -26 ..................................... -33
What has happened to your Consultancy spend....................... 9 ......................... -31 ..................................... -44
Last quarter more or less optimistic for organisation............. 10 ......................... -2 ...................................... -33
Last quarter more or less optimistic for industry.................... 2 ............................ -5 ........................................ -22
General Economic conditions over next 12 months ................... -4 ....................... -20 ..................................... -44
Staff numbers ................................................................................... 11 .......................... 0 ............................................. 0
Use of consultancies in next quarter .................................... 2 ........................... -27 ........................................... -33
Use of freelancers in next quarter ................................... 17 ............................... 4 ............................................ 11
Biggest Challenge ...............................Increased Resp 26% ...........Increased resp 53% .... Increased responsibility 54%

- ENDS -

Notes to editors

For more information please contact tom.hawkins@prca.org.uk on 020 7233 6026

About the PRCA

Who we are: Founded in 1969, the PRCA is the professional body that represents UK PR consultancies, in-house communications teams, PR freelancers and individuals. The PRCA promotes all aspects of public relations and internal communications work, helping teams and individuals maximise the value they deliver to clients and organisations.

What we do: The Association exists to raise standards in PR and communications, providing members with industry data, facilitating the sharing of communications best practice and creating networking opportunities.

How we do it and make a difference: All PRCA members are bound by a professional charter and codes of conduct, and benefit from exceptional training. The Association also works for the greater benefit of the industry, sharing best practice and lobbying on the industry's behalf e.g. fighting the NLA's digital licence.

Who we represent: The PRCA represents many of the major consultancies in the UK, and currently has more than 250 agency members from around the world, including the majority of the top 100 UK consultancies. We also represent over 70 in-house communications teams from multinationals, UK charities and leading UK public sector organisations.

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