Harris sheds light on data indicating hike in PR budgets

HIGHLAND PARK, IL: When PRWeek ran a story reporting a 21% increase in corporate PR budgets, the PR industry collectively scratched its head.

HIGHLAND PARK, IL: When PRWeek ran a story reporting a 21% increase in corporate PR budgets, the PR industry collectively scratched its head.

But in a letter to PRWeek this week, Thomas Harris, founder of the Thomas L. Harris/Impulse Research PR Client Survey, has revealed a previously unreported change to the survey's methodology that dramatically skewed the results.

The number, at odds with a year defined more by layoffs and cutbacks than account wins, was the result of the addition of two new categories in the budget section, Harris said. In 2001, the top category option listed was "$10.1 to $20 million," so no one reported numbers over $20 million.

This year, "$20.1 to $30 million" and "over $30 million" categories were added.

When the 14 clients who reported more than $20 million were taken out, total budgets averaged $2,372,000, an increase of only 5% over 2001.

Further, that increase is entirely in internal budgets. External budgets with PR firms declined 4%, from $1,287,000 to $1,233,000.

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