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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5 comments

  1. I disagree.

    There is nothing to stop an agency today from contracting freelancers or bringing on consultants/contractors on the cheap and marking up the cost. They're available locally and globally, English is their first language and you don't need to pay benefits.

    Why in any agency's right mind, would they need to outsource to some random, unproven, potentially untouchable no-name in some random country? And almost every US company in the world has a contractor/freelancer/consultant, on some level, on board.

    It is an obvious "business model" that only someone asking for an ass kicking would do.

    --DW

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  2. Outsourcing PR ….. Oh My circle the wagons ...

    Some outsourcing of professional services is inevitable and positve for the global economy

    Some functions whether they are IT, data entry or other services are transparent, therefore easy to outsource (mostly). PR offers something that a lot of outsourced shops can’t:

    • Local knowledge
    • Relationships with clients and media
    • Provide value via service


    Local knowledge is not just knowing your neck of the woods, but the strategic framework that makes up your client’s space, this is something that a PR Factory cranking out worthless releases can’t do

    Relationships are key.

    Relationships can’t be outsourced.

    Whether you like to take a local reporter Starbucks, or read your clients’ trade journals and know the WSJ like your local paper, this constituents a relationship with that media, that can’t be replicated by a PR sweatshop in Manila or wherever.

    Value:

    If a client is looking for low-cost service, I say good luck and have a nice day. If you are looking for value-based relationship, that is mutually beneficial to the client-agency, then that can’t be outsourced, unless you drop the ball -- then you'll be outsourced to a shop across town rather than across the ocean

    So, I don’t think that outsourced PR is a real threat, unless you don’t provide the above points (I know I am leaving a lot out, but these are the basics).

    Besides, outsourced PR already exists in the form of local freelancers and small shops that quite frankly kick the big shops butt.

    Alec

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  3. I beg to disagree about your opinion regarding Asian Quality…it is obvious that you are not aware that asians are very strict about quality. It all started in Japan and is now sweeping all of southeast asian nation for the past ten years. Most companies in Southeast Asia are certified by ISO and that includes the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and others. I am from Europe and I am not surprised that many US companies are outsourcing their jobs mostly in India and in the Philippines as they too are acknowledging the Asian countries adherence to Total Quality Culture. Don’t you think big companies like Microsoft and Intel doesn’t review firsthand these southeast asian nation’s commitment to quality? Of course they do, I should have known as I was part of the team hired by a US company who audited several Southeast Asian country’s commitment to total quality culture and that includes the Philippines and to our surprise, they all exceeded our expectations - thus the outsourcing.

    It’s a sad fact that you are losing jobs not because a company is in the brink of going bankrupt but because of a company’s three dimensional focus on profit.

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  4. Robert de Quelen2/05/2006 08:04:00 PM

    Filipinos can be excellent PR practitioners - we have 27 of them in our staff to prove that.

    Outsourcing the writing of press releases? Why not? But PR is about much more than that, as all serious people should know. The very idea of organizing a press conference in the US, out of Manila? Come on! But doing in-depth coverage analysis and strategic recommendations: yes, this is something they can do with the utmost competence.

    Robert de Quelen, Manila

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  5. Its not just regular PR firms, but now online reputation management firms as well. That industry is about 5 years old in the USA, but virtually untapped and unheard of in Manila or the rest of the Philippines

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