The PR year ahead: what will be the big stories of 2013?

The corporate PR world can be dull - no really. Come ride with me as we take a weekly sideways glance at the world of PR in the lofty world of big business, from someone who has been there, done that, and was mostly fired.

So here we have it, my final column of 2012, and what a year it has been. As is so often the case with us columnists, we hash together a yearly review of what has gone on, a rather lazy approach if you ask me (no one did).

Andy Barr: partying like it's 2013

Being the international trend-bucker that I am though, I thought I would have a stab at making some predictions for the big stories that may emerge in 2013 and then we can see what comes true and what was just the load of usual piffle what I does spout.

In the PR sector, I think 2013 will see further consolidation of agencies as the bigger companies continue to snap up the smaller, niche, agencies. Maybe a few acquisitions by the larger advertising and marketing agencies of social and search companies as the world looks even further towards social indicators for search and influence.

Looking wider, the same old tired stories will no doubt re-emerge as they do every year, such as: Euro gods demanding that mobile phone tariffs drop when calls are made between countries, utility and public transport prices will rise, and in turn maybe trigger slightly more coordinated protests.

What about brands? Well, HMV already looks like it is on a sticky wicket, so that is hardly an insight on my part, but the real answer will come in late Jan, early February when Xmas sales results are in and brands try to renegotiate leases and alike on their shops and properties.

Analysts will be looking closely at brands like Halfords to see if they can continue to recover and then it will be interesting to see how the likes of Boots and John Lewis do given then positive messages over the Xmas period.

The results of the Christmas supermarket battle will also be something to look out for, especially as the smaller brands such as Lidl and Aldi are snapping hard at the heels of the bigger brands. Will Tesco hold onto its crown?

All this means it will be a tough start to the year for corporate public relations professionals, hitting the ground running and protecting their paymasters image against a back drop of worsening economic doom and gloom.

On a brighter note, it is my Birthday on Xmas eve, very nearly Jesus 2.0 I hear you say, so cards and presents to the usual address.

Thanks to everyone who has sent me tit-bits of gossip and info this year. I have been taken aback by the largely positive (but sometimes, quite rightly, negative) feedback. Keep it coming.

Thanks also to the team at The Drum, especially Cameron, who chases me every week for my words of wisdom [Ed: wisdom?].

So, have a great Christmas and New Year and I look forward to sharing more gossip from PR land in 2013.

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