Omnicom and WPP point to PR's resilience in quarterly earnings calls

NEW YORK: Marketing-services giants Omnicom Group and WPP, whose holdings include some of the world's largest PR agencies, both expressed cautious optimism about the state of the PR industry last week after each released their quarterly earnings.

NEW YORK: Marketing-services giants Omnicom Group and WPP, whose holdings include some of the world's largest PR agencies, both expressed cautious optimism about the state of the PR industry last week after each released their quarterly earnings.

"Some of the sectors that were hit harder than others, PR being one of them...are showing some renewed signs of growth," said Randall Weisenburger, EVP and CFO of Omnicom in a conference call with investors and analysts.

The news may reflect a recovery trend highly anticipated by industry leaders.

Omnicom's PR and public affairs holdings posted revenue growth of 5.2% for Q3 and 1.8% for the year-to-date, bringing total PR-related revenues to $706.5 million for 2003. Omnicom's PR holdings include Fleishman-Hillard, Ketchum, Brodeur, Porter Novelli, and Cone. Overall, the company reported a 15% increase in revenue to $2.03 billion.

Major competitor WPP's PR and public affairs holdings, which include agencies Burson-Marsteller, Ogilvy, and Hill & Knowlton, posted a loss of 0.4% on a constant currency basis, making the sector's total loss for the year 2.1%. Total PR revenue for 2003 is $543.9 million.

"As for marketing-services spends, it pretty much follows the pattern that you'd expect, with the US a little more resilient and Europe under more pressure," said Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP in the company's presentation, held the same day as Omnicom's. WPP's Q3 revenue increased 6.5% to $1.75 billion. PR was the only business sector for WPP that posted a revenue decline.

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