The corporate communications and public relations market in Algeria is still relatively underdeveloped. Therein lies a paradox, because Algeria has probably one of the highest level of press freedom in the whole MEA region, but at the same time a majority of institutional and corporate leaders are stuck in a “stay under the radar at all cost” attitude towards communications. Historically, two trends are at play: the private sector has grown tremendously for the past 15 years, but often thanks to public spending, and its leaders are thus loth to draw attention to themselves lest somebody might take notice (or offence). The other trend has to do with the top-down nature of political governance, which means communications gets centralized and very few officials would dare speak publicly on any issue for fear of being “off message”.
That said, there are indications that this state of things is changing, albeit slowly, mainly thanks to the role of social media. Officials and decision makers are realizing, sometimes quite brutally, that it’s nowadays nigh impossible to hide, and that you need to make sure you are ready to get your message across. Similarly, they come to the conclusion that it is better to reach out and develop a relationship with your stakeholders before a crisis strikes. There is a great need for counselling and expert advice, from media relations to crisis preparedness, into adapting to the social media environment that is disrupting old habits and paradigms.
There are few “pure player” PR agencies in Algeria due to the limited size of the market, but there are quite a number of integrated communications agencies offering various types of corporate communications and PR services. This “native” integration of Algerian agencies is in my mind an advantage, given that this is a hot trend amongst international agencies and networks. For instance, we at TBWA\ DJAZ have always been deeply integrated, with our PR teams working hand-in-hand with the Creative and Events team, amongst others such as Digital and Direct Marketing. Clients appreciate this holistic approach to communications.
Algeria boasts a population of some 40 million, most of them under 30 years old. Mobile and social media penetration are at 50% and growing fast. Attitudes and behaviours towards communications are also evolving rapidly, which makes for a great deal of opportunities for agencies and PR practitioners alike in the coming 5 to 10 years.