2014 exceeded expectations for Pride Park public relations consultancy BH PR and Communications – and director Donna Hill believes 2015 will result in further growth for the firm.
She said: "Continued improvement in business confidence, coupled with a wider appreciation of the business benefits of social media platforms, resulted in increased investment in PR and communications campaigns, both in terms of additional spend from our existing client base and campaigns for a number of new clients.
"Content marketing promises to be the buzzword in 2015, with more opportunities for communications professionals to build awareness, engagement and relationships with target audiences and the media.
"We plan to recruit two public relations professionals and one graphic designer in the new year to keep pace with increased demand for our range of communications services."
Kevin Palmer Media Services
MEDIA veteran Kevin Palmer believes that firms need professionals to get the attention of potential customers.
He said: "Hopefully, economic growth will continue and businesses will need and want to put their messages across and tell stakeholders – such as employees, their industries, and the public – their good news.
"The general election will take center stage and may create uncertainty, but it is important that organizations which have stories to tell use professionals so they can make their voices heard above the party politics."
THE design, PR, digital and media agency secured good client wins in 2014 and hopes to build on that during 2015.
Managing director Robert Eley said: "There's seemingly always a reason for companies to hold back from marketing.
"No sooner has the dust settled on the Scottish referendum, amid signs of economic recovery, than there is now the backdrop of sustained public sector cutbacks, the looming general election and wider uncertainty internationally.
"History shows, however, that those companies who hold their nerve and spend wisely on marketing do well in good times and in hard times.
"As ever, the best advice is to maintain a robust and appropriate marketing presence, taking advantage of a well-planned mix of tactics, both traditional and digital."
CREATIVE agency Katapult expects further increases in demand for its online services.
Business development manager Emma Jones said: "The last couple of years have witnessed a dramatic shift from traditional to digital marketing, moving towards a more cost-effective and focused model of communication.
"With over 90% of buyers now starting their research for new products and services online, it is increasingly vital for our customers to get found by their prospects online and engage with them effectively via targeted and relevant communications.
"With that in mind, we expect to see an increased demand for our digital marketing and inbound marketing services in 2015."
LAST year, the Allestree business took on two members of staff, added new customers and launched a video recording service.
Managing director Andy Ball said: "PR and social media have been huge areas of growth for us and we have delivered measurable benefits to customers' sales.
"In 2015, video will be important. Creating short videos without blockbuster budgets is what's needed and Balls2 News gives businesses the opportunity to record video content at Balls2 Marketing's offices in Allestree every month.
"Being part of Marketing Derby and working collaboratively with local businesses has been really exciting for us and we're looking forward to working with more local companies in the new year."
THE Friar Gate-based creative design agency predicts continued growth in terms of new and ongoing client relationships, further employee recruitment and staff development during 2015.
Director Martin Griffiths said: "We are seeing an increase in the number of clients engaging with us, recognising the benefits of our return-on-investment approach to fully integrated marketing and the need for sector-specific and bespoke collateral.
"Derby is a centre of excellence for the creative industries.
"Our aim is to demonstrate to businesses in all industrial sectors who are based locally and regionally that the expertise and creativity they require is available on their doorstep."
THE Derby firm, a leader in providing public relations for the gardening sector, finished 2014 on a high, welcoming a new member of staff and new clients.
The Friar Gate Studios firm boasts Wilkinson Sword, Wolf-Garten, Mr Fothergill's Seeds, the Posh Shed Company, Briggs and Stratton, Griffin Glasshouses and Q Lawns among its clients.
The latter has launched Meadow Mat, a turf-studded with native British wildflowers to help halt the decline in native meadows.
Director Graham Paskett said: "Gardening remains the cornerstone of the business and continues to grow in popularity with the public. We're all very excited for what 2015 holds."
Essential Print Services
POTENTIAL expansion into a larger office and recruitment could be on the cards for Pride Park-based Essential Print Services this year.
Director Yvonne Gorman said: "Last year was phenomenal for us. It's been so rewarding to see the confidence that companies have regained to use print to encourage sales.
"This year, I predict we will see more ambitious print projects with clients discovering that digital marketing often requires tangible media, too. With the predicted increase in workload, we will need to find more Print Angels to help us, which in turn, could lead to an office expansion or an additional office.
"There was much more awareness for Small Business Saturday this year and I felt privileged to be a keynote speaker at Derby City Council's very first event for the day. I predict that this year's will grow exponentially in popularity and Derby's retail and business community will feel some real benefit."
Essential Marketing Solutions
An acceleration in the move towards online marketing is being predicted by Essential Marketing Solutions' Sharon Stevens-Cash.
She said: "Marketing is about keeping one step ahead and I have already seen a shift in many businesses spending more on digital marketing than ever before.
"However, I predict that, in 2015, marketing channels will be more connected than ever.
"Marketing is everyone's job in a business, from customer service and product development to sales and finance. Therefore, it's not just about having a good social media, public relations or event marketing strategy.
"It's about all of those things pulling in the same direction.
"I also predict that Derby County will earn their promotion to the Premier League."
IF public relations agencies play their cards right, their role is going to be increasingly important over the next 12 months, according to Simon Turton, of Opera PR.
He said: "During 2014, everyone was promoting content marketing as if it was a new concept but anyone in PR knows that great content has always been important.
"As for web design, I think that the trend for websites to become cleaner, less cluttered and far more accessible will continue, and I also believe that e-marketing will play a far more important role than social media-led campaigns.
"You can use social media for clever viral campaigns and it will still have a place in the marketeers' armoury but social media is a blunderbuss compared to the laser-guided targeting of e-marketing."
BUSINESSES will start wanting to see tangible results from their social media strategies in 2015, according to Mark Saxby, of Status Social. The company specializes in training people in new media marketing.
Mr Saxby said: "For too long, companies have been using social media without seeing results.
"We believe that some bosses will start demanding returns while others see the potential for growth through social media for the first time.
"In the business-to-business sector, the true value of LinkedIn will be recognized more but, for many smaller organizations, the doubts about whether it's worth using Facebook will grow – unless they start throwing cash at Facebook advertising.
"We also predict more businesses will turn to Google+ because of its impact on internet search results."
SARAH Jenkin-Jones, of Derby-based JJPR, has just celebrated 18 years in business and feels 2015 will be a good year for local public relations professionals.
She said: "We have a buoyant PR profession in the city and surrounding area and between us have the range of skills and expertise to provide support that local businesses and organizations need here on their doorstep.
"Unlike previous downturns, the PR profession has now got the teeth and stature and has successfully weathered the storm.
"I, along with PR colleagues throughout the city and beyond have seen budgets remaining stable and the number and quality of new business opportunities are rapidly gathering pace."
Nielsen McAllister PR
THE Green Lane public relations firm saw many of its clients break with tradition by maintaining or increasing their marketing spend during the recession.
Managing director Bob Bushby said: "In tough trading conditions, it was important to shout as loudly as possible to help secure what business there was out there.
"Effective marketing communications will continue to be essential in 2015.
"Although the UK economy is growing again, the overall global outlook remains unsettled, so businesses will have to work hard to win and retain their customers.
"The forthcoming general election is also likely to add an element of uncertainty in the UK market in the early months of the year."