France may be at the heart of the troubled eurozone, and it may have seen public debt rocket from 68% of GDP to 82% between 2008 and 2010, but it has weathered the global economic crisis better than most other big EU economies. A large public sector has kept domestic consumer spending relatively resilient, which has in turn maintained corporate sales and wages.
France is home to many multinational corporates such as Orange, LVMH, Danone, Total, Carrefour and PSA Peugeot Citroen, and its PR industry is starting to acquire a commensurate standing. Its marketing communications industry includes two of the world's biggest holding companies: Publicis Groupe and Havas. Both are relatively underweighted in terms of PR revenues, and both are attempting to rectify this.Most notably, Publicis Groupe merged its two global PR networks – US-based MS&L and France's Publicis Consultants – under a new MS&L Group banner, adding in various other agency resources from around the world.
The French PR industry was slower to enter the digital age than other European nations, but it is now rapidly catching up. Thierry Wellhof, President of industry body Syntec RP, says: “In the past three years digital communication has transformed the French PR industry. Now nearly all French PR agencies offer digital communication.”
Indeed, French corporates are increasingly recognising the value of PR. Industry insiders report that, whereas a few years ago they would have been called in at the end of a marketing campaign, now they are seen as key strategic partners.