Council study finds current growth and positive expectations

NEW YORK: The Council of Public Relations Firms (Council) found that firms are earning bottom-line returns from increasingly efficient and profitable business practices, especially the use of social media.

NEW YORK: The Council of Public Relations Firms (Council) found that firms are earning bottom-line returns from increasingly efficient and profitable business practices, especially the use of social media.

Revenues for 2006 increased an average of 13.9%, with Q1 2007 numbers gaining 8.8% over Q1 2006, according to results from this year's business practices benchmarking study.

The sectors showing the greatest revenues were consumer, technology, and healthcare. Across all sectors, over half of the respondent firms' revenues were generated in marketing communications (51%), with other earnings coming from corporate communications (26%) and public affairs (11%). An overwhelming 90% of firms expect greater gains this year.

Kathy Cripps, president of the Council, attributed the continued success to improved hiring practices and the bigger part that PR is playing across business.

"Many of the firms are hiring, but, in addition, they're looking to bring people in with other types of experience, for instance, in the digital space," said Cripps. "Marketing, public affairs, and C-suite clients understand the role of PR in product relations and reputation management. Add to this better outcomes measurement, and I think you have a winning combination."

The study also revealed strong new business numbers, with 73% of firms reporting a higher number of RFPs in 2006 compared to 2005.

This is the sixth time the Council has conducted the annual study, which has been tracking the steady rise in revenues earned by PR agencies over the past few years. The study was conducted in March and April, with 72 of the Council's 100 PR firm members across the US submitting information.

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