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Not surprisingly, there has been a shift in the perceived value that agencies bring to their clients this year as we move beyond the crisis phase of the pandemic, with a small drop in the number of CCOs and CMOs who said they most valued agencies’ strategic counsel, from 26% last year to 20% this year, compared to only 13% in 2019. There was a notable rise, from 19% to 25%, in the number of those saying creative thinking and new ideas had been the greatest benefit of working with an agency over the past year – although still nowhere near the 36% who rated agencies’ creativity most highly in 2019. And there’s again an even stronger focus on in-house leaders valuing agencies’ tactical and execution support, up from 43% in 2019, to 49% last year, and 51% this year.
We again asked two questions we introduced last year to gauge how relationships and expectations have shifted during the pandemic. Showing how well the industry has adapted to the new remote working environment globally, 80% of our influencers said there had been no change to their relationships with their PR agencies, compared to 64% last year. Slightly less than 10% said their relationships with their PR agencies had suffered because of home working, compared to 11% in 2020, and the same number said relationships had improved (although this was down from 18% last year).
In terms of expectations, as everyone settled into the “new normal”, a much larger proportion this year said there had been no change to what they expected from their PR agencies _ up from 36% to 47%. A small number – 6%, around the same as last year – said expectations had decreased. A further 35% – down from 40% last year – said expectations had grown slightly and only 12% (compared to 17% in 2020) said their expectations of their agencies had grown “dramatically” throughout the year.
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