Interpublic PR firms see 3.4% revenue jump in Q4

NEW YORK: Interpublic Group's PR firms saw organic revenue growth of 3.4% in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared with the same period of the prior year. IPG PR revenue was up 4.8% organically for the full year.

NEW YORK: Interpublic Group's PR firms saw organic revenue growth of 3.4% in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared with the same period of the prior year. IPG PR revenue was up 4.8% organically for the full year.

The holding company's Constituency Management Group, which includes its PR firms, reported a fourth-quarter organic revenue increase of 2.7% to $334.5 million. CMG posted 2012 revenue of $1.2 billion, up 8.2% organically compared with the prior year.

The holding company owns and operates Weber Shandwick, GolinHarris, DeVries, and other marketing specialist agencies in its CMG group. It also manages Carmichael Lynch Spong and the Axis Agency outside of the unit.

Overall, IPG reported a 0.4% organic increase in Q4 revenue to $2.06 billion, compared with the prior year. Revenue increased 0.7% organically to $6.95 billion for the full year, compared with 2011.

IPG reported net income of $313.3 million in Q4, up nearly 21% compared with the prior year's fourth quarter. Net income for the full year was $435.1 million, down 16.4% compared with 2011.

Andy Polansky, CEO of Weber Shandwick, said the agency's quarterly organic growth number exceeded CMG's results. He attributed that to additional digital and social business, expanded relationships with existing clients, and strong performances in the consumer marketing, corporate, and healthcare practices.

“We continued to have strong growth rates in the quarter, which is particularly significant given our double-digit increase in the prior year period. We're getting balanced contribution across practices and around the globe,” Polansky said. “We're expecting a stronger year in our tech practice given wins we've already registered and that are in the pipeline.”

The North America, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America regions performed well, but Europe was a “more challenging environment given the macroeconomic picture,” Polansky said.

Fred Cook, CEO of GolinHarris, said his agency also grew organically.

“In 2012, GolinHarris had another strong year of organic growth.  Plus, we added three important acquisitions in digital, healthcare, and lifestyle [in Europe],” Cook said. “In the fourth quarter, we won a dozen significant new clients, which has given us early momentum in 2013.”   

Notable account wins for GolinHarris in the fourth quarter included Smirnoff in Great Britain and Western Europe, Cadbury in the UK, and NRG Energy, Cook said. 

Stephanie Smirnov, CEO of DeVries, said that while the firm saw organic growth in the quarter, winning new business was a challenge.

“Organic growth has never been a problem for us. We are blessed with longstanding client relationships where we are able to nurture and grow those relationships over time,” she said. “Our focus at the beginning of 2013 is very much about bringing the same kind of energy and success with new business efforts as we have had historically with organic growth efforts.”

Digital and social will continue to be a focus for DeVries this year, as well as expanding capabilities in multicultural and Hispanic marketing, Smirnov added. 

This story was updated on February 22 with additional information on Interpublic's net income, quotes from Smirno, and more information on Q4 GolinHarris account wins.

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