It's time for agencies to stop hiding behind SOX

Each year, PRWeek gears up for our annual rankings, which will be published in our Agency Business Report on April 21.

Each year, PRWeek gears up for our annual rankings, which will be published in our Agency Business Report on April 21.

We continue to wait in vain for revenue and staffing figures from the major holding company agencies. While many have perhaps forgotten that full and transparent disclosure of this information used to be standard practice, PRWeek - we can assure you - has not.

We continue to object to the specious reasoning that caused the holding companies to withdraw from participating in all industry rankings.

We object strongly to the perpetuation of the myth that Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) mandates that holding companies not disclose this information. Make no mistake: these companies have elected not to reveal this information to shareholders and stakeholders, much less the readers of marketing titles. This decision goes against the spirit of increased and accurate disclosure that the act was meant to foster.

To be sure, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance is an expensive and labor-intensive undertaking. But even though their revenues are not publicly disclosed, holding company agencies have been GAAP-compliant in their reporting for years. There are no barriers to full transparency, other than a stubborn lack of candor on the part of the holding companies, and perhaps the fact that some agencies might have been less than buttoned down in their reporting in years past.

That is all the more reason why responsible firms must fight the lack of disclosure. For an industry that is the biggest proponent of openness and candor, the stance against transparency is increasingly indefensible.

The rankings form for the PRWeek Agency Business Report is available for download at www.prweek.com. The deadline to receive forms is February 29. If you have any questions, please e-mail rankings@prweek.com.

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