PR budgets less volatile than other marketing categories, finds IPA

UK firms' spending on marketing and PR grew only marginally in the final quarter of 2015, with PR budgets less volatile than other categories, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising's latest Bellwether Report says.

Budget balances: calculated by subtracting the number of firms decreasing spend from the number upping their outlay
Budget balances: calculated by subtracting the number of firms decreasing spend from the number upping their outlay

The quarterly report asks marketing directors or the equivalent from 300 of the UK’s top 1,000 companies about their budgets in the last quarter, with a fifth of respondents reporting PR budget cuts in the previous report, covering Q3 2015.

For the new survey released today (Thursday) covering Q4 2015, 12 per cent of respondents said they had increased PR budgets, and 11.4 per cent said they had decreased. The resultant +0.6 per cent balance was slightly higher than the +0.5 per cent balance seen across marketing budgets as a whole.

However, across all sectors of marketing, 20.4 per cent of respondents said their budgets had increased, while 19.9 per cent said they had decreased.

The fact that 76.6 per cent of respondents reported no change in PR spend made it one of the least volatile budget areas; this figure was 10 or more percentage points higher than the proportion of firms reporting no change to main media budget (65.1 per cent of respondents), sales promotion budget (66.1 per cent) or events budget (63 per cent).

It was also higher than the 69.1 per cent of firms reporting no change to internet marketing budget, and 67.4 per cent reporting no change in direct marketing spend.

While overall budgets and PR budgets in particular were generally stable in Q4, a net balance of 6.9 per cent of firms reported increasing internet marketing budgets, the highest of any category.

The fact that PR budgets are less likely to change than marketing budgets as a whole is evidenced by the below chart showing each quarter's bellwether result since the start of 2012.

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