One in five UK firms cut PR budget in last quarter, finds IPA

A fifth of the UK's largest firms cut their PR budgets in Q3 but marketing budgets as a whole rose, although these were buoyed by internet marketing investment, the IPA Bellwether report has found.

A negative story: PR budgets drop, finds IPA
A negative story: PR budgets drop, finds IPA

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising asked marketing directors or the equivalent from 300 of the UK’s top 1,000 companies about their budgets in the last quarter.

Just under a fifth (19.5 per cent) said PR budgets had reduced in the last quarter, while 13.7 per cent said they had increased, leaving the majority of budgets unchanged. Both the 19.5 per cent figure and the resultant negative balance of 5.8 per cent were record figures since the Bellwether first included the PR category, in Q4 2012.

Last quarter, the net balance was a positive 1.1 per cent, while Q1 saw a negative balance. However, the long-term trend remains positive, with the final report for 2014 showing a two-year record high in growth in PR spend.

However, overall marketing budgets increased in Q3, as they have done in every quarter since the end of 2012, with 20 per cent of respondents saying they were spending more on marketing, and the net balance of budgets increasing standing at 4.4 per cent.

This overall increase in marketing budget was in part thanks to internet marketing budgets, where a net balance of 7.8 per cent of respondents said they had increased their spend. As the chart above shows, direct marketing, sales promotions and market research budgets were also hit, while events spend increased.

James Goddard, chief executive of JJ Marketing, said: "This quarter’s results are obviously disappointing for the sector – however they should be viewed in the context that, in five of the six previous quarters, an increase in spend was registered so it is important that we stay confident in PR’s integral role in the marketing mix."

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