The PRWeek Top 150: Esther Carder's perspective

In 2012, the PR industry had its best year for fee income growth since 2007, achieving growth of 11.5 per cent (in 2007, fee income growth was 15.3 per cent). Considering the economic climate remains tough, this is quite an achievement.

Top 150: Esther Carder's view
Top 150: Esther Carder's view

Encouragingly, this growth was spread across the sample, with around 80 per cent of agencies showing growth and more than half showing growth of ten per cent or more.

This year - as last year - smaller consultancies seem to have done well, with only seven of the smallest 30 suffering a decline, and 18 showing above-average growth in the Top 150.

As expected, many of the larger percentage increases were at the bottom of the table. While showing more modest growth on average, those at the top of the table also did well to avoid income erosion, with only four of the top 30 showing a decline. Some of the larger declines were in the middle of the table, with all of the six consultancies that suffered double-digit declines sitting between £1m and £3.5m in fee income, showing the vulnerability of this group.

PR consultancies continue to be in a good position compared with other marketing disciplines. They are starting to show why they are best positioned to grab social media budgets, which will help with fee income growth.

The move from retainer to project continues, so predicting staff requirements will become more of a challenge. However, profit margins remain resilient compared with some of the other disciplines within the marketing mix. PR consultancies should take the opportunity to invest in the best talent, which is what will set them apart from the competition.

Esther Carder is partner at Kingston Smith W1

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