The total income of the PR agencies listed in the table is £900m, up from £839m and exceeding 2008's 'boom year' figure of £858m.
Damaging client fee cancellations for Chime and Huntsworth were reflected in the figures. The Bell Pottinger Group remained in first place, but with a fee income of £62.9m, a seven per cent drop from last year’s figures as a result of losing major accounts with the US government. As of 13 April, Huntsworth’s share price had tumbled 28 per cent.
The public sector cuts also impacted those heavily exposed to this work - Munro & Forster saw a 28 per cent drop in fee income and Freshwater UK a 26 per cent drop.
But many agencies saw encouraging growth. At the top of the table, Edelman saw a 22 per cent growth in fee income, Freud Communications grew by 14 per cent and Grayling, owned by Huntsworth, jumped up 39 per cent.
Further down, notable growth appeared in agencies focused on digital, healthcare and public affairs: We Are Social grew by 102 per cent, WCG by 116 per cent and Open Road by 56 per cent.
Two of PRWeek’s 2011 ‘On Our Radar’ agencies made the table for the first time – W Communications with 81 per cent growth and Seven Hills with a 121 per cent growth.
While much of the growth was fuelled by acquisition – Mischief, Four Communications, 3X1 – there is much for the industry to be positive about.
The weighted profit margin of those who submitted profit figures was 17.6 per cent, and agency heads believe there is still a huge opportunity to take control of digital marketing and the conversation economy.
But to succeed in this, as Freud Communications’ CEO Matthew Freud argues in the supplement, PR professionals – relative ‘dwarves’ of the marketing world - need to be more assertive about demanding higher pay for their services. ‘I emphatically urge my fellow dwarves to rise up and seize this day. It has been a long time coming,’ he said.
For more detail, see the supplement published with this issue. As in previous years, we will publish sector league tables including digital, consumer, technology, healthcare and public sector over the next few months.