THE TOP 150 PR CONSULTANCIES 2001: OVERVIEW - On top form. PR consultancies capitalised on a remarkable market in a year where acquisitions, a bullish market, high-profile client wins and boom then bust reigned supreme

2000 was a vintage year for PR, with growth accelerating well ahead

of that shown in either 1999 or 1998. A bullish market and acquisition

boom helped to push the combined fee income of the Top 150 consultancies

to more than pounds 600m, a rise of 21 per cent on 2000.

The PRWeek Top 150 has moved dramatically this year towards a purer

representation of the consultancy business in the UK.

For the first time, the three big parent companies, Allied

Communications, Chime Communications and Incepta have split out their

figures to reveal fee income for their main brands. This explains why

the positions at the very top of the table have altered, even though the

big three shops still dominate.

Further down the table, companies like Text 100 and sister companies Joe

Public PR and August.One Communications are shown separately. The

combination of the revelation of brand figures, with the entry of new

players, means that lower down the table in particular, consultancies

whose fee income shows very respectable increases have still dropped

down the rankings.

Weber Shandwick tops the league at almost pounds 32m, a rise of 11 per


Citigate Dewe Rogerson (excluding Citigate Westminster) is hot on its

heels with a fee income of almost pounds 31.6m, up 18 per cent ,while

Bell Pottinger Communications is a close third with fee income of almost

pounds 30.5m, and a year-on-year increase of 24 per cent. Last year, the

gap between Weber Shandwick and BPC was more than pounds 4m; now it is

less than pounds 1.5m despite Good Relations being shown separately.

Hill & Knowlton easily held on to the fourth slot with a substantial

organic rise of 15 per cent to almost pounds 29m. However, its figures

no longer include its Prague office's contribution, and as a result of

numerous relocations by senior management within the company, and the

strengthening of the European network, much of the fee income previously

included in the UK Top 150 table is no longer part of it.

Countrywide Porter Novelli dug in its heels at number five, but

Burson-Marstellar was pushed from number six to number seven by BSMG

Worldwide (UK). A series of major acquisitions, including Square Mile,

propelled its figures up a dramatic 82 per cent.

GCI/APCO held on to a place in the top ten, although it moved down a

place to number eight. Fee income broke the pounds 16m mark very easily,

fuelled in part by acquisition, but more by organic growth and big wins

by both agencies.

Financial Dynamics entered the Top Ten and made great progress with fee

income boosted by 40 per cent to over pounds 15m. Technology media and

telecoms (TMT) was one of the biggest areas of growth.

Good Relations is shown under its own name for the first time, coming in

at number ten. Fee income rose by a very healthy 33 per cent to pounds

13.1m following the strategic decision to report and operate separately

from Bell Pottinger Communications.

In the 11 to 20 bracket there are some major boosts in fee income such

as College Hill and Cohn & Wolfe, although this is not necessarily

reflected in their rankings.

Fee income in this range totalled pounds 96.4m, continuing the trend of

the last two years with an increase in share of the total to 16 per


It was a bumper year for the medium-sized firms from 21 to 50 whose

total fee income rose to pounds 145m, a 24 per cent share of the market.

Within this band PPS Group and Nelson Bostock Communications showed

particularly strong performances with fee income boosted by 96 and 78

per cent respectively.

Staff numbers within the Top 150 companies rose dramatically to 8,357

compared to 7,147 in1999. It would be tempting to say that the talent

shortage is over, but with agencies continuing to hunt for bright

sparks, a more plausible explanation is simply that a bigger industry

must employ more people. The tendency to outsource PR work, evident last

year, continued, with client numbers up to 7,104.

The fastest growing agency in the Top 150 was Gnash Communications,

which surfed the wave of and bomb and grew organically by 154

per cent. Top performer over five years was still Warman & Bannister

Cambridge which has grown by 495 per cent since 1996, while the prize

for highest fee income per head of pounds 156,628 went to Buchanan


Ten shops saw a drop in fee income, although for six of them the falls

were minimal. This is a considerable reduction on last year when 15

agencies saw fee income reduced.

New entries into the Top 150, excluding brands previously entered as

part of a parent group, included Penrose Financial, and Shared Value

whose first full year of trading saw it enter the table at 88 with fee

income of pounds 1,325,567.

1 Weber Shandwick UK

pounds 31,929,000 +11%

2 Citigate Dewe Rogerson

pounds 31,562,608 +18%

3 Bell Pottinger Communications

pounds 30,479,000 +24%

4 Hill & Knowlton (UK)

pounds 28,934,000 +15%

5 Countrywide Porter Novelli

pounds 20,905,626 +10%


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

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

figures. 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


This includes fees (i.e. 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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