Client PR spending dips 29% while service satisfaction levels rise

CHICAGO: Client PR spending fell 29% over the past year to an

average $3.1 million, according to the Harris/Impulse Research

Client Public Relations Survey.

The size of the decrease reflected the dramatic reduction in spending on

hi-tech, claimed the researchers.

Corporate communications budgets fell 40% to an average $963,000

from $1.6 million, while PR budgets for agency work fell 17% to

$1.3 million from $1.5 million.

The largest spending cuts came in corporate media relations, which fell

an average $173,000 to $180,000; internal comms, down

$149,000; and special events PR, down $126,000.

While clients are spending less on PR, they seem more satisfied with the

work they're getting. Sixty-nine percent of clients rated their agency's

performance as "outstanding" or "very good" in the latest survey, up

from 65% the prior year. In addition, 81% said they were very or

somewhat committed to their PR agencies, up from 75% the prior year.

The increase in client satisfaction may reflect the greater effort firms

are putting into their work for clients as the economy slows, said Bob

Novick, Impulse president. "Last year, there was a lot of growth and it

was difficult for agencies to keep up."

Industry segments devoting the greatest percentage of their revenues to

PR are e-commerce, 0.57%, and entertainment/sports, 0.32%. Industries

with the largest PR budgets in the survey were energy, $4.7

million; transportation, $4.47 million; retailing, $4.33

million and telecoms, $4.18 million.

This year's survey omitted automakers because their PR budgets were so

high, at a total of around $40 million, that they distorted

overall averages.

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