2000 was a year of many firsts for the PR industry. The PRWeek Top
150 league table, published today, moved towards a truer reflection of
the UK consultancy sector as, for the first time, the top three holding
companies - Incepta Group, Chime Communications and Interpublic
subsidiary Allied Communications - revealed fee income figures for the
PR brands they actually trade as. Now this trend has been established,
it is time for all those holding companies entering future league tables
to follow suit.
2000 was a boom year that saw fee income rise spectacularly, breaching
the pounds 600m barrier for the first time, with correspondingly large
rises in staff numbers as the industry sought to service its growing
The economy was undoubtedly robust, and with PR's place in the marketing
services family firmly established, it was in a position to capitalise
on a dot.com sector that continued to hit the headlines.
There is no shortage of market analysts ready to proclaim confidently
that PR is in a far stronger position than many other elements in the
marketing mix to deal with a slowdown if, as looks likely, the economy
as a whole follows the dot.com sector into a downturn. Offering better
value for money than some higher visibility services, PR budgets will
hopefully remain firm.
An industry that is seen to be transparent should be more able to hold
itself up to client scrutiny should the hard times come. Which is why
another first in the league table, one which may initially appear
negative, will ultimately prove to be beneficial to the industry.
Several very successful consultancies have seen their places in the
rankings drop, and this despite individual figures which paint a very
positive picture of year-on-year growth - sometimes comfortably into
More brands in the table mean inevitable changes in position. But,
despite the short-term pain, it is without doubt better for a
consultancy to be accurately placed in a credible table than
misleadingly high in one, that could have been, and now has been,
The fastest-growing agencies of note this year contain one or two
It might have been thought that firms such as Gnash Communications -
which boasted a long list of dot.com clients this time last year - would
suffer the reversal of fortunes suffered by the new economy stocks in
But it is testament to the value of PR, that good communications is as
much an important business requirement in bad times as well as good.
Whatever the year ahead may bring, the PR industry is prepared.