Just over ten per cent more respondents expect their spend on public relations to increase than decrease this year, which is up from 8.2 per cent three months ago.
In addition, the survey found that a balance of 2.1 per cent of companies had revised up their PR spend in the first quarter of this year, as opposed to a balance of 2.8 per cent of companies having revised it down in the final quarter of 2013.
James Goddard, chief executive of JJ Marketing, a multidisciplinary agency with a significant PR operation, said the survey was "very good news for the PR sector and the broader marketing industry".
PR’s first quarter performance came against a background of bigger rises for all other marketing channels, apart from market research (see chart below):
The survey reflected strong optimism in the client community with marketing budgets being revised higher for the sixth successive quarter and the net balance for their view of the financial prospects of their employer’s industry hitting a survey high of 39 per cent.
It also threw up the eye-catching result that traditional advertising had been revised up by more companies than internet spend for the first time in almost three years in the first quarter.
This edition of the quarterly report polled 300 marketing executives from UK-based companies, of whom around 85 per cent answered questions relating to PR spend.
IPA director general Paul Bainsfair said the report showed that confidence remained strong and the advertising industry faced "a future full of opportunity, innovation and most importantly of growth".
Goddard added: "I think the solid upward revision in PR in the first quarter reflects an increasing appreciation of the need for solid reputation management and proper structured PR strategy and management in businesses of all sizes.
"Businesses of smaller scale than the big corporates are having the confidence now to take a longer term view about their brand profiles and reputation management."