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Business Observer Friday, Nov. 16, 2018 11 months ago

Economic forecast: Kyle Parks, principal, B2 Communications, St. Petersburg

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The communication firm has its finger on the pulse of what's to come in 2019 for several key industries.
by: Brian Hartz Tampa Bay Editor

Company: Parks hasn’t seen a pullback in spending on the part of his existing clients, while the rapidly diversifying Tampa Bay economy means more companies, across a broadening range of industries, are potential customers. However, low unemployment presents a challenge to B2 — just like it does for many other businesses. “This job market has been really hard on employers,” he says. “Everybody’s looking at pay structures, flexibility. They’re asking, ‘How do I do more than just post a job on Indeed.com or LinkedIn?’ The big storyline going into 2019 is labor.”

Industry: Parks says the marketing, advertising and communications industry in 2019 will continue to move away from a “one size fits all” approach. “Traditionally, marketing agencies would have a PR person who might be two years out of school and they would just write news releases,” he says. “For certain clients, that’s fine, but the clients we work with want a more sophisticated approach on the communication side to go with a sophisticated approach on the marketing side.”

Parks says B2 often partners with multiple agencies on a client project, such as Valley National Bank’s recent rebrand as “Valley,” sometimes working so closely “that we almost finish each other’s sentences.”

Threats: Depending on what happens with interest rates, personal incomes and the availability of skilled labor, Parks sees a possible “return to rationality” on the horizon in 2019 for companies like Lennar, a homebuilder B2 represents. That could affect his firm’s bottom line. “The average wage hasn’t risen dramatically in the Tampa Bay area, so your selling price needs to make sense,” he says, “and the cost of capital is going to be a huge issue. But with that said, I hear the word ‘softening’ a lot more than ‘slowdown.’ The parameters around deal making are going to get tighter, but that doesn’t mean deals aren’t going to get done, and I don’t think anybody foresees another foreclosure crisis.”

(This story has been updated to correct Kyle Parks' title. He is principal of B2 Communications, not president.)

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