Friday, January 21, 2005

The Filipinos are coming, the Filipinos are coming!

Well, it looks like outsourcing has hit the public relations industry ... or it will if RPA & Communicate, a Philippines-based public relations firm, has anything to say about it.

In today's O'Dwyer's,

RPA & Communicate, which is based in Manila, has sent a letter to American PR heads offering outsourcing services.

Philip Abadicio, managing director, cited “increasing labor costs in the U.S.” in offering to write press/broadcast releases and reports, develop strategies and create PR plans.

Since “labor costs are much lower in the Philippines, you can dramatically decrease your overhead expenses and lessen your employees,” wrote Abadicio.

He noted that Filipinos are “well-versed in both speaking and writing in English because this is the primary medium of instruction in all school levels.” Abadicio believes the rise of the Internet makes it “much more practical for your firm to outsource.”

RPA will charge $300 for a press release up to three pages, and $2,000 for conducting a press conference, including press kit content.

U.S. firms also may go on a package plan for $4,000 a-month. That includes five press releases, media briefing, Q&A, radio/TV interview, PR plan and ideas.

Well, this really is not that surprising, and not to sound too cynical, but I expect some of the large conglomerates to take up RPA or other outsource nation-based PR firms on these types of offers.

Why? For one reason and one reason only - the conglomerates seem to care less and less about quality, but only about billable quantity.If they can cut costs and grow the profit margin, I expect them to take the bait. The fact is that you can get a college graduate in the Philippines for about $8K a year - that's just a smart money spend.

This will hurt the industry in the long-run, though. As I have heard from friends at larger agencies, the quality of persons out there is just okay. The writing skills are not there, and the ability to pitch beyond email is scarce (I love phone phobics). If we outsource the junior level work, how are we going to train junior people?

Talk to any recruiter right now, and they will tell you that there is a whole generation of PR people missing: AEs to SAEs. This level left the industry when the bubble burst, as they were the easiest level to let go. So, if we outsource that level, we will once again be in a crunch to find the higher level.

The worst case scenario is if the large conglomerates start buying agencies in India and the Philippines and start outsourcing the writing, then the pitching. All that would leave to differentiate US-based firms is strategy and tactics ... which does not seem to be happening as agencies more and more are used as glorified admins.

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