Is Birmingham set for a PR revolution?
The last few weeks have witnessed several PR agencies set up new offices in Birmingham including Citypress, JBP and Belgrave Communications.
Once the stalwart of the industrial era, the city now sees over 86% of its population employed in the service sector.
An increasing number of PR agencies are now seeking a foothold in the region – a sure sign that businesses there are choosing regional support over the long-distance lure of London.
“We see Birmingham and the West Midlands as being a focal point over the next ten years,” says Nick Dines of Belgrave Communications.
“High Speed Rail, the Birmingham Enterprise Zone and the Big City Plan all point to a City that is going to be transformed.”
Lis Anderson, director at JBP, points to the company’s existing client base and geographical footprint as the reasons for its expansion.
“We’ve recently been getting more work in places along the M5 corridor, such as Gloucester and Worcester, as well as building on our existing client-base in the Midlands,” she explains.
“The region has a strong property and development industry and so it makes sense to have a regional communication service, especially in light of the recent localism bill.”
“It’s also an opportunity to tap into the city’s political PR market, as there is so much going on in the region and local companies are keen to forge strong links with Westminster.”
Anderson says that she is encouraged by the growing number of PR companies in the region, something which CityPress director Martin Currie agrees with.
“The competition that is coming into the area isn’t a bad thing,” he comments.
“The more players that are in the market, the more choice there is for clients. We’re hoping that over the next five years, this will see spending pulled from London and retained locally.”
Many of Currie’s existing clients are seeking a presence in Birmingham, so for him, opening an office there seemed natural.
“The city has a lot of mid-cap businesses in advanced and hi-tech industries, as well as consumer and retail sectors,” he explains.
“These companies are all interested in advancing their profiles, especially the consumer food and drinks brands. This means there is a safe economic environment in the city and so it’s a good time for us to arrive.”
So can we expect to see the “PR revolution” continue in Birmingham? Nick Dines thinks it’s unlikely.
"If they follow the same thought process as us then yes, but it seems that London companies think that they can service Birmingham from London due to the relatively short amount of time it takes to get to New Street from Euston, but we do not believe that is viable.”