THE TOP 150 PR CONSULTANCIES 2000: OVERVIEW - Size matters Acquisition appeared to be the name of the game in 1999, with a flurry of acquisitions boosting the big name groups and pushing all sign of the independents out of the top ten.

PR was a good business to be making money in during 1999, although growth appears to have slowed down slightly. Despite a year where the explosion created as many staffing problems as new accounts, the fee income of the top 150 consultancies rose by 14 per cent to more than pounds 496 million, compared to a rise of 17 per cent in 1998.

PR was a good business to be making money in during 1999, although

growth appears to have slowed down slightly. Despite a year where the explosion created as many staffing problems as new accounts, the

fee income of the top 150 consultancies rose by 14 per cent to more than

pounds 496 million, compared to a rise of 17 per cent in 1998.

There were some significant changes near the top of the table this year,

not least that the top 10 is now made up of owned companies, with no


The only independent in last year’s top 10, Edelman, dropped to 11th

place with fee income up only one per cent to pounds 9 million.

Shandwick and Weber’s parent company, International Public Relations,

comfortably held onto the top spot on pounds 38.6 million. The gap

between IPR and Bell Pottinger Communications is narrowing, however, as

Lord Bell’s group put on another pounds 4.3 million to take it to pounds

34.4 million income.

Citigate Dewe Rogerson and Hill and Knowlton continued to dig their

heels in at third and fourth positions respectively, but

Burson-Marsteller was pushed out of the number five slot by Countrywide

Porter Novelli.

B-M’s figures remained more or less static, with fee income up one per

cent to pounds 18 million, but Countrywide Porter Novelli put on nine

per cent, giving it fee income of pounds 19.6 million and returning it

to the position it held in the league table two years ago.

The GCI group, including APCO, achieved its aim of moving into the top

ten by increasing income by 25 per cent to put it in seventh place with

income of pounds 11.5 million. Health specialist Medical Action

Communications also made great progress, increasing income by almost 32

per cent to put it at number eight with income of pounds 9.9


Ketchum dropped out of the top ten, down from eighth to 12th place. Its

fee income went down eight per cent to pounds 8.8 million, as it

struggled to tidy up Life PR and merge it into the core business.

Charles Barker and Biss Lancaster both stayed in the top ten, however,

with Charles Barker dropping from seven to nine on fee income up two per

cent to pounds 9.8 million, and Biss Lancaster hanging on to tenth place

with fee income up almost ten per cent to pounds 9.7 million. The

combined fee income of the top 10 consultancies was pounds 207.5

million, representing 42 per cent of the marketplace, just down on the

43 per cent taken by the biggest consultancies last year.

The fee income for the agencies in the 11-20 bracket, where incomes

ranged from pounds 9 million down to pounds 5.9 million, totalled pounds

73.4 million, representing 15 per cent of the market. This compares to

14 per cent in 1998, and indicates a slight spreading of power across

the table.

The same is true of the agencies placed from 21 to 50, whose fee income

ranged from pounds 5.9 million down to pounds 2.4 million. Their total

fee income was pounds 112 million, taking 23 per cent of the market,

compared to 21 per cent in 1998.

As the hunt for new talent went on, the number of staff employed by the

top 150 agencies went up by eight per cent to 7,147, compared to 6,634

last year. The average income per head of staff was pounds 69,444,

although the company with the highest fee income per head, Richmond

Towers, managed to yield pounds 126,765 per head. Client numbers were

also up to 6,466, from 6,110 indicates an increase in outsourcing of


Consolidation in the industry continued apace during 1999, and a number

of those who entered the Top 150 in their own right have been included

in the figures of their new owners for 1999. These include Jane Howard

PR, now part of GCI, and Sector PR, which is now part of the London

office of Ogilvy PR Worldwide.

The fastest-growing agency in 1999 was Ogilvy PR Worldwide, which grew

by 115 per cent, partly because of its acquisition of Sector PR and


Its fee income of pounds 4.9 million put it at 25 in the table, up 19

places from 44 last year. The top performer over five years was Warman

and Bannister (Cambridge), which has grown by 513 per cent since 1995.

It now has fee income of just over pounds 1 million, putting it at 86 in

the league. The agency was also the biggest mover, going up 42 places in

the table.

Fifteen agencies recorded a drop in fee income during the year,

including David Clarke Associates, which dropped income by 20 per cent

to put it at 145 in the table, down from last year’s 130 slot. This

compares to 13 agencies whose fee income went down in 1998, although the

level of losses was much lower than some of the figures seen last


Other notable moves up the table included Republic Communications, which

moved up 35 places, from 132 to 91, on fee income of pounds 874,893, and

Bryan Morel PR, which moved up from 134 to 101 on fee income of pounds


There were 20 new entries in this year’s Top 150, the highest being Text

100 spin-off Joe Public Relations, which went straight in at 78, with

impressive fee income for its first full year of business of pounds 1.2


1    International Public Relations      pounds 38,636,000        +5%

2    Bell Pottinger Communications       pounds 34,390,000       +14%

3    Citigate Dewe Rogerson              pounds 30,026,902       +13%

4    Hill and Knowlton (UK)              pounds 25,926,000       +15%

5    Countrywide Porter Novelli          pounds 19,584,259        +9%


The PR Week Top 150 ranks PR consultancies by calendar year fee income,

and also shows turnover, year-on-year growth, and other performance


We do not accept entries unless they have been approved by the company

auditor. All entries are also reviewed independently by chartered

accountants Willott Kingston Smith

Fee income

This includes fees (that is, the amount by a client for the project, or

for consultants’ time) plus mark-up on disbursements. Income relating to

non-PR activities such as advertising, direct mail, design and so on, is

not included.


This includes gross disbursements made on behalf of clients. It may also

include income from non-PR activities


All figures exclude VAT.

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