THE TOP EUROPEAN PR CONSULTANCIES 2000: GERMANY - A raft of major takeovers and IPOs were the stimuli needed to bring German PR of age

The German PR market may be one of the biggest in the world, but it has been regarded as underdeveloped - by protagonists as well as opinion leaders and the media. But the situation is changing: PR is developing rapidly and has become a widely accepted management function and consulting discipline. There has been growth of 23 per cent among the top 100 agencies, but it is mainly the qualitative changes in attitude towards PR which are making a difference to the business.

The German PR market may be one of the biggest in the world, but it

has been regarded as underdeveloped - by protagonists as well as opinion

leaders and the media. But the situation is changing: PR is developing

rapidly and has become a widely accepted management function and

consulting discipline. There has been growth of 23 per cent among the

top 100 agencies, but it is mainly the qualitative changes in attitude

towards PR which are making a difference to the business.



PR is increasingly perceived as a legitimate means of professional

communications management. This was partly induced by the

acknowledgement of the strongly PR-driven political election campaigns

that led to a change in government in autumn 1998 after 16 years. It is

also based on a changing media agenda which features subjects where

communications play an important role, such as globalisation, mergers

and acquisitions, the euro, new economy firms, and a boom in IPOs.



This growth in PR business seems to be tied in with a change in the

German business mindset. German business has long been known as very

efficient, but now managers are more open to the idea that there is more

to running a company than having the best goods or services.



And the German media is starting to take a more positive attitude

towards PR, as it is recognised that a growing number of social and

economic campaigns are driven by PR. In 1999, Publicis PR in Berlin

began helping the European Central Bank to improve the acceptance of the

euro, and the government’s press department started looking for an

agency to do the same. Karl-Heinz Schulz, partner of Topcom in

Liederbach near Frankfurt, says: ’This is a big issue for political PR:

communicating the modernisation of state and economy in order to

establish willingness for change.’



There has been a growth in demand for corporate communications because

of recent flotations, mergers and acquisitions, such as the pounds 750

billion merger of Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Kleinwort Benson which was

announced in March this year. One of the biggest PR issues last year was

the takeover of Mannesmann by Vodafone AirTouch. It was the first time

that a foreign company tried to acquire one of the most successful and

traditional German firms. Initially, the German public rejected the

plans of Vodafone’s CEO Chris Gent. Frankfurt-based PR agency Ahrens and

Behrent managed to replace the perception of an unfriendly take-over

with ’a constructive offer to Mannesmann’. ’No one had done something

like this before,’ said Terry Barwick, director of corporate affairs at

Vodafone. ’We had to inform the German public and act simultaneously in

many countries around the globe.’



Financial communications remains one of the growth disciplines, as there

are dozens of IPOs taking place. ’In the German financial communications

market you find both established IR specialists and traditional PR

agencies pinning their flag to that business,’ says Thorsten Rohe,

managing partner at Rohe and Wust.



The biggest growth agencies have seen in the last year has come from

dot.coms which have shown how successful PR can be in preparing a

company for flotation. This has acted as a spur for other, non-dot.com,

companies to take PR more seriously. Stephan Fink, managing partner of

Wiesbaden-based Fink and Fuchs says: ’The driving factors behind the

boom of technology PR in Germany are the new market phenomena and

increased venture capital spending, which allows young entrepreneurs to

invest heavily in their branding via PR.’



Two of the biggest mergers within the PR industry itself during the year

were BSMG Worldwide’s takeover of Munich-based MPC, and Hill and

Knowlton’s purchase of IT specialist Hiller, Wust and Partner. In

addition, Zurich-based PR group Trimedia International bought the top

ten consumer specialist Reporter Public Relations, and GPC bought its

German affiliate Ipse Communication, which specialises in government

relations and policy analysis, last October.



IPOs are not yet seen as a valid method of developing PR agencies in

Germany. As an alternative to an IPO, Hamburg-based agency Media Concept

Fischer Appelt has set up a new holding structure, Media Concept AG.

This covers the core PR brand Fischer-Appelt Kommunikation. Under the

new umbrella, brothers Bernhard and Andreas Fischer-Appelt will

establish a firm for new economy ventures.



One factor which is constraining the growth of the German industry to

some extent is the shortage of staff - it’s easier to get five new IPO

clients than to get five new consultants to work on them - but the

strength and stature that the PR industry is developing in Germany

suggests this might soon be less of a problem.





- The GPRA has 30 member agencies in Germany, all of which have been

trading for at least three years.





- In October 1999, PR Week set up a joint venture with PR Report, a

35-year-old newsletter, to create an integrated platform for the

German-speaking world for the first time. The magazine collated the data

for the German ranking.





EURO CONSULTANCIES - Germany

Rank Company/Status Fee income (pounds) Grth Location

99 99 98 %

1 Kohtes-Klewes*/ 19,191,919 15,993,266 20 Dusseldorf

PNI/Brodeur

2 Hunzinger PR/ 6,178,114 3,569,360 73 Frankfurt

Independent

3 Trimedia Reporter*/ 5,488,215 3,703,704 48 Frankfurt

Trimedia subsidiary

4 BSMG Worldwide*/ 5,353,535 4,175,084 28 Hamburg

BSMG subsidiary

5 ABC*/ 5,309,000 4,695,657 13 Berlin

Euro RSCG subsidiary

6 GCI Hering Schuppener/ 4,750,000 3,622,559 31 Dusseldorf

GCI subsidiary

7 Shandwick Germany*/ 4,142,000 3,199,764 29 Bonn

IPR subsidiary

8 Burson-Marsteller/ 3,924,000 3,872,525 1 Hamburg

B-M subsidiary

9 Media Consulta/ 3,874,074 3,020,202 28 Berlin

Media Consulta member

10 Edelman PR Worldwide/ 3,872,054 3,231,987 20 Franfurt

Edelman subsidiary

11 Koob & Partner*/ 3,636,364 3,232,323 13 Mulheim

Independent

12 Leipziger & Partner*/ 3,598,684 3,374,342 7 Frankfurt

PROI network

13 Ahrens & Behrent*/ 3,434,343 2,764,310 24 Frankfurt

Independent

14 Deekeling

Kommunikation/ 2,996,633 1,212,121 147 Dusseldorf

PNI associate

15 Fleishman-Hillard/ 2,632,000 1,561,585 69 Frankfurt

F-H subsidiary

16 PR Kaltwasser/ 2,626,263 1,986,532 32 Nuremberg

Inter PR member

17 Fink & Fuchs PR/ 2,585,859 1,649,832 57 Wiesbaden

Independent

18 MasterMedia*/ 2,528,620 2,255,892 12 Hamburg

Independent

19 Manning Selvage & Lee/ 2,088,000 1,750,741 19 Frankfurt

MS&L subsidiary

20 Public Relations

Partners*/ 2,075,758 1,668,687 24 Kronberg

Pinnacle member

21 Ketchum*/ 2,053,872 1,925,926 7 Munchen

Ketchum subsidiary

22 Vibrio/ 1,851,852 1,774,410 4 Munich

Fireworks member

23 wbpr */ 1,784,512 1,548,822 15 Unterfohring

Pinnacle member

24 Hiller, Wust & Partner/ 1,776,000 1,369,000 30 Aschaffnbg

H&K subsidiary

25 PR&P Public Relations/ 1,556,566 1,597,980 -3 Wiesbaden

Independent

All figures relate to the year ended 31 December 1999. Fee income= PR

fees only *Denotes GPRA member.



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