2002 GLOBAL RANKINGS: Australia New Zealand - Australia and NewZealand may be small markets, but global PR firms are finding thatclients are looking for both specialization and scale



Australia had no shield for the global economic malaise that struck in 2001. In a market boasting over 1,000 PR consultancies, the 15% drop in PR spend hit the global multinational agencies hardest. As smaller, nimble local operators hung on to dwindling client business, global networks like Burson-Marsteller, Weber Shandwick Worldwide, and Hill & Knowlton were forced to rethink the viability of their costly multi-practice, and for some, countrywide operations. WSW's Melbourne operations closed in November 2001, turning Sydney into the long-term lynchpin of its business. Asia-Pacific co-president Andrew Pirie says: "The operations in the smaller markets like Adelaide, Melbourne, Hobart, Brisbane, and Canberra looked great on the map - but if the clients are not prepared to pay for that, it's not sustainable."

"Melbourne was a big, but low margin operation - as the business there declined, margins eroded quickly and, had we held onto it, it would have moved into a loss-making venture, Pirie says.

Not all the major players suffered however, and Ogilvy PR bucked the downward spiral with a maverick acquisition strategy uniting a quintet of high-end, niche PR specialists.

Its portfolio included corporate finance specialist Savage & Horrigan, boutique technology shop Howorth Communications, and others.

According to Ogilvy Australia managing partner Chris Savage, the business saw 30% growth in 2001."Clients are now cherry-picking the best practices to meet their business needs - specialization is the future of PR in Australia."

Consumer PR felt the pinch, and healthcare remained recession-shy, however public affairs work flourished thanks to federal PR budgets. Widespread corporate restructuring provided crisis and issues work for agencies.Savage concludes that while economic indicators may look strong, few in the market are is spending.

New Zealand

H&K, which has a strong presence, deflected recessionary pains with revenues of $1.19m, though Weber Shandwick sold its operations after 15 years. "The realities of the PR business are that you need people, says Pirie, "and with a total population of three million this is difficult.

Our business was profitable, but not strategically sound, he adds. In conclusion, future opportunities may be aided by a government eager to encourage telecoms and biotech industries.


Rank Agency Name                       Australia/NZ Income(dollars)    %
2001                                          2001           2000   chng
1    Ogilvy Public Relations
     Worldwide                           7,681,000             NA
2    Porter Novelli                      6,113,000     10,796,000    -43
3    Cordiant Communications
     Group                               6,086,000      6,292,800     -3
4    Hill & Knowlton                     6,081,000      7,132,000    -15
5    Burson-Marsteller                   4,793,000      5,747,000    -17
6    Edelman Public Relations
     Worldwide                           4,196,552      2,963,832     42
7    Weber Shandwick Worldwide           2,591,000      4,395,532    -41
8    Fleishman-Hillard                   1,279,000             NA
9    Text 100 Public Relations             849,237        836,591      2
10   Brodeur Worldwide                     400,000             NA

Source: Council of PR Firms Note: This is a list of global PR firms in
Australia. It does not include local independents

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in