PR agencies score highly with clients in Asia in terms of trust and value, but that isn’t necessarily reflected in how much money those clients are prepared to spend with them in future, new research shows.

A study by Ipsos for Campaign Asia-Pacific surveyed more than 110 executives from PR agencies, in-house communicators and marketers and found a 72% trust rating for PR agencies among clients and a 49% rating for value – both figures well ahead of any other types of agency they might use.

Crisis management specialists returned a 66% score, but that’s pretty much a core function of most PR agencies anyway; after that came agencies focused on digital (56%), social media (54%), marketing (54%), advertising (52%), media (52%), consultancy (46%) and finally content (44%).

The gaps were even more pronounced in terms of how much value clients thought agencies added to their business: PR’s 49% stood head and shoulders above the 25% score of advertising and the 22% of digital; then there was social (15%), marketing (14%) media (13%), crisis management (12%), consultancy (8%) and content (0%).

And while 68% of clients had used a PR agency and 57% had increased investment there over the past decade, rather fewer were committed to doing so in future; just 38% said they planned to increase investment next year while 11% indicated they would decrease spending.

PR agencies themselves were more gloomy, with 45% saying they’d seen increased investment during the past ten years and one in five anticipating a decrease in spending in 2020.

One reason for this disparity, Campaign Asia-Pacific suggested, may be a “chasm” between how PR agencies and brands think the former have evolved and diversified: there’s a 35 percentage point gap between the two sides as regards speed of evolution and a 26 percentage point gap on ‘diversified as expected’.

A glaring example: agencies see social media management as one of the least important services they provide; clients rate this in their top three. And in a related finding, there appears to be scope for PR agencies to tap into increased investment by clients in influencer marketing.

Sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by WARC staff