Poor services lead to closure of 50 local PR agencies

Poor services lead to closure of 50 local PR agencies
Updated 03 May 2013

Poor services lead to closure of 50 local PR agencies

Poor services lead to closure of 50 local PR agencies

Many business owners here believe that local public relations (PR) agencies are unprofessional and cannot provide strategic marketing advice in a PR market worth more than SR 500,000 a year, some PR experts say.
Mohammed Abdullah, a PR specialist who deals with local agencies, said clients often pay domestic agencies 50 percent of their agreed-upon contracts without getting any positive results.
The PR market is small in the Kingdom, with only 25 percent of businesses using these services, compared to 50 percent of businesses in the United Arab Emirates.
Local agencies face strong competition from international PR agencies, especially American ones that have a strong presence in the Saudi market. International agencies are preferred by clients because of their strong PR culture and ability to offer professional strategic advice, he said.
In contrast, local agencies focus only on media services including covering a client's commercial activities, media relations, and drafting and translating of press releases, said Abdullah.
Salem Hafez, a PR consultant in the private sector, said more than 50 local PR agencies had to shut down because clients no longer wanted to use them. With local PR agencies only offering media services, clients often hire their own employees to do this work, he said.
About 20 to 30 percent of the world's global PR agencies have offices in the Kingdom. However, there are successful local PR agencies in the Kingdom with professional experts who worked previously for these global agencies.
Abdullah, who works in the private sector, prefers to contract global PR agencies. "The local PR agencies need to acquire a professional culture and become more specialized instead of focusing on offering media services. Clients are always looking for agencies with foreign experience to promote their commercial brands in the local market. However, local agencies do not have the same experience. Some global agencies have been in the business for 50 years."
Farooq Al-Khateeb, economics professor at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, told Arab News that local PR agencies do not have enough experience to compete with major agencies in the Saudi market. "The local agencies' share in the Saudi market is less than 5 percent. However, American clients prefer to only contract American PR agencies across the world."
"Local PR agencies do not have enough money to hire professional experts and provide training for their employees. They have to offer simple services to clients such as drafting clients' news or translations depending on employees who worked previously as journalists.”
However, clients want a focus on professional strategies to promote their commercial brands in the local market," added Al-Khateeb.