This article was originally published on Business in Vancouver, April 16, 2013

Companies anticipate new hires as ad agency revenue recovering from 2009 lows

Revenue in British Columbia’s advertising sector hit a low in 2009 and only just started recovering in 2011, according to Statistics Canada. The industry saw revenue of $582 million in 2011, after the dip to $558 million in 2009.

Alvin Wasserman is the president of Wasserman + Partners Advertising, the fourth-largest advertising agency in Metro Vancouver. He said there is a direct relationship between advertising revenue and the economy in general, and that a general loss of economic momentum has stalled growth in the industry.

“Retail has been soft, the housing market hasn’t crashed, but it has softened [and] construction has softened,” he said. “There was so much economic generation from all that, and it’s just not there anymore. There seems to be a sort of ‘bumping along the bottom’ here, versus a straight, predictable climb up.”

Wasserman predicts a jump in advertising revenue after the provincial election in May.

“We’re in pause mode at the moment. … People want to see what happens, and what it means to them. I see an uptake in September.”

Public relations spending in B.C. is increasing, said Joy Jennissen, senior vice-president, Western Canada, for Hill + Knowlton Strategies, in part because of the infrastructure building boom in Western Canada.

“In the past, you would just go and build. Now what’s happening is people need to have public consultation and transparent communication. So that then turns into a much greater need for a variety of communications, which include public relations.”

As of 2010, there were more than 13,000 PR positions in the province, with nearly 70% of those concentrated around the Lower Mainland. By 2015, it is anticipated that there will be another 3,455 jobs in the sector.

The industries with the greatest percentage of PR staff are public administration (23%) and professional, scientific and technical services (20%).