Today is a sad day, yesterday we heard Woolworths and MFI had been taken into administration and this morning I heard PC World and Currys are another two brands which are struggling in these increasingly difficult times.

It is sad because (for instance) Woolworths is a brand that resonates with most of us – who can forget trialling the Pick N Mix and buying your favourite album/CD from your local store?

The only problem is a strong fondness for a big brand doesn’t stop us from logging on the internet and buying an item from somewhere else and unfortunately that’s what has been happening more recently.

The truth is the recession is going to get rid of many more retailers that have not been performing. Only the strongest will survive and this will mean they will have to market themselves much more wisely.

I have had a number of meetings recently with senior business people and I have noticed a major change in their attitudes and approach to communications. I have even been told by a couple that they are actually shifting the focus of their business/budgets from traditional public relations to social media.

I think this is the start of a huge change we are going to see in our industry. Public relations consultancies will need to address this new found demand quickly or they will risk their budgets being cut or losing out to specialists.

Marketers are shifting the focus because of their budgets for three main reasons:

  1. It’ s cheap
  2. It’s effective
  3. It provides immediate customer feedback

Wendy McAuliffe recently wrote on her blog saying: A recession will force PR consultancies to get their houses in order, and evolve or die. So, in actual fact, a recession could ultimately be a good thing for this industry, separating the quality, digitally-aware practitioners from the run-of-the-mill.”

I have to agree with Wendy, if you have a PR consultancy and you want to stay ahead of the game you must act soon.

Brian Cross also recently blogged about a theory him and a colleague have which is this: New technology + recession/bad economy = massive behavioural changes

It seems these behavioural changes are already afoot.

About Chris Norton

Chris Norton is the founder of Prohibition and an award winning communications consultant with more than twenty years’ experience. He was a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University and has had a varied PR career having worked both in-house and in a number of large consultancies. He is an Integrated PR and social media blogger and writes on a wide variety of blogs across a huge amount of topics from digital marketing, social media marketing right through to technology and crisis management.