The increasing focus on digital marketing, online reputation management, social media growth and other online-driven trends in the communications industry saw a plethora of new, specialist firms set up to cater to the growing demand among UK businesses for web-savvy experts.
However, this trend could be on the reverse as larger PR agencies attempt to improve their communications recruitment and bring in staff that are able to compete with these online experts.
According to a report from business intelligence firm Pearlfinders, more than 40 per cent of PR budget holders expressed a preference for communications agencies over specifically digital shops - up from roughly 35 per cent in the previous year, reports PR Week.
While this is only a small shift, it does indicate that companies are adopting a more holistic approach to their communications strategies, and recognising that digital is not the only area on which they can focus.
Pearlfinders managing director Anthony Cooper suggested that digital is now on the agenda for every firm that wants to remain competitive in the industry.
"As the production and digital divisions of mid-sized PR players grow they have been increasingly able to win these kinds of (digital) briefs," he added.
One advantage of taking on major PR agencies rather than more boutique digital operators is that it is easier to create an integrated strategy on a particular product or service; on the other hand, opting for a smaller, online-based company can ensure that businesses are offered the cutting edge of digital marketing.
Creative Brief managing director Charlie Carpenter, who was also involved in the report, said: "PR skills are about storytelling and crafting engaging content, which is naturally well aligned with how social media are used to create a dialogue and advocacy with consumers."
With competition fierce in the PR and marketing world, it is obvious businesses can not ignore the importance of digital in the future.