1. Which industries/markets are booming at the moment in the UK?
The two markets I see with most potential in the UK right now are renewable energy and telecoms. Telecoms, a market we’ve been in for more than 20 years, is incredibly buoyant – especially mobile. The atmosphere at Mobile World Congress last month was electric. The big buyers are loosening their purse strings after a long period of austerity. Deals are being done, confidence has returned.
And despite the economic gloom and public policy uncertainty we’re also seeing a renewed vigor in the renewable energy market. It seems to be a response to the prevailing negative media narrative created by a powerful ‘big oil’ anti-lobby. Renewables has a tough fight on its hands, but the outlook is positive – if the industry can get over its current fragmentation and unite.
2. What makes the UK so interesting for these industries?
London is the base for a huge number of international influencers and financiers. This is partly a function of a strong financial and media sector, partly a function of the dominance of the English language in the telecoms and renewable energy businesses. What happens in the UK has global ramifications.
For the mobile industry, the UK is the centre of the universe for business and specialist media, industry and financial analysts, consultancy houses, trade associations and conference organisers. Critically, many purchasing influencers in the big EMEA buyers can be reached via the UK – we’re the natural ‘jumping off point’ for companies looking to do business in EMEA.
In the renewable energy sector, there are three main reasons for focusing on the UK. The first is the investment community. London is the base for many of the project financiers, insurers and financial analysts that will fund the roll-out of renewables in the UK and beyond. The second is the commercial opportunity – especially that offered by offshore wind as major CAPEX and OPEX decisions are being taken this year. Finally is ‘brand establishment’ – because many of the major influencers are based out of London (though less so than in mobile).
3. Why should companies from these industries start practising Public Relations in the UK?
Put simply: to help meet their commercial objectives. PR as a discipline and PR services are changing and as one of the world’s biggest PR ‘hubs’ the UK is at the vanguard. We’re leaving behind the intangible ‘reputation management’ and ‘awareness building’ nonsense of the 2000s and focusing on commercial imperatives. We’re driving sales, attracting funding and supporting exits.
The UK offers organisations in the renewable energy and mobile industries a launch pad into EMEA. Practising PR in the UK enables companies to target inclusion in RFP processes, charge a premium for their products and services, and open the door to partnerships with large vendors to drive sales. In addition, the strength of the financial community must not to be underestimated. Whether it’s project finance, venture funding or due diligence ahead of exit, the UK offers unique opportunities for those that participate in the market with a focused campaign.
But of course, the impact of PR is doubled (if not trebled) when programmes are carried into specific target geographies and implemented by local experts. And it’s even better if they are part of a coordinated global approach across other critical commercial industry hubs. I believe the saying for public relations firms is ‘local power, global reach’.