Agency MD Owen Cullen sat down recently with industry bible ‘PR Week’ and gave his views on tech, talent and trends in post-recession Dublin, all from the perspective of a leading independent PR agency.
Some of the highlights of the interview include:
What’s the PR climate like in Dublin?
It is a small market, but it is quite competitive in relation to PR. Most agencies started off as independent shops. A lot of people who established them previously worked in PR, either with firms or in-house, or were journalists or involved with public affairs.
As they developed over time, a number of agencies were sold to larger, international brands. Some firms have remained independent, but aligned to agency networks – for example, we are a member of the Public Relations Global Network. Then you have your boutique firms and smaller players.
What is it like for a young professional to break into PR in Dublin?
There are… good opportunities for graduates. It is encouraging to see that PR is now a desirable industry, which means agencies such as Cullen Communications are getting the best talent available.
However, the skill set is changing somewhat. Employers are looking for some added qualifications – such as a basic degree and a master’s in PR or public affairs and social sciences. We are always looking for someone who possesses that little bit extra, who can create a spark, and bring it into a team environment.
How did the recession affect the industry?
Budgets were cut and unfortunately some companies did not come out the other side of it.
Cullen built its business based on a lot of long-term relationships. Some of our clients have been with us for more than 20 years. Companies continued to keep their PR accounts with us because they valued the role of communications, whereas some advertising budgets were completely closed.
What sectors will drive the Irish economy in the coming year?
The Irish economy is now in strong recovery mode and the sectors that are mainly driving growth include food production, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and, in particular, the high-tech industry.
Ireland is home to many of the world’s largest technology firms – Google, Facebook, and Amazon, to name a few – and Dublin is fast acquiring a reputation as a global tech hub, not only for the big players, but also for the thriving start-up and entrepreneurial community.
What services are clients asking you for most?
The clients we work with on a retainer basis would generally be looking for a core PR consultancy, which includes media services, strategic communications, social media management, and ongoing services including media training and crisis preparation.
There would also be regular milestone-type services such as event or sponsorship management, digital marketing programs, and different kinds of promotional work.
Content creation has become a priority for brands in Ireland and that trend is expected to strongly continue. Clients understand that top-quality, original content is the best way to connect with customers across social platforms. Those that are ahead of the game are actively investing in content creation as part of their annual communications strategies.