Company spending on PR has risen 20%

CHICAGO: Spending by businesses on PR leapt 20% over the past year to reach dollars 4.4 million, according to the annual Harris/Impulse Client Survey, published last Thursday.

CHICAGO: Spending by businesses on PR leapt 20% over the past year to reach dollars 4.4 million, according to the annual Harris/Impulse Client Survey, published last Thursday.

CHICAGO: Spending by businesses on PR leapt 20% over the past year to reach dollars 4.4 million, according to the annual Harris/Impulse Client Survey, published last Thursday.

The report also flagged the 11% increase in investor/financial relations agency activity - the largest rise in type of PR. This is reflected in the rush by agencies to staff up new IR divisions (see Text 100 story, page 3).

Public affairs is also an increasingly popular discipline, with a 7% increase in agency assignments. But media relations remains the technique clients demand the most, with 42% of total PR spend.

Not surprisingly, quality of work continues to be the key criteria by which clients rate their agencies. But Internet capabilities, creativity, results measuring and access to influential people are what clients are seeking more than ever.

New questions in this year's study probed the nature of the client-agency relationship. Thirty percent of clients say they have daily contact with their agency, with 2.5 times a week being the average.

Just 20% say they confine talking to their agencies to once a week.

There was surprisingly good news for multi-national agencies worried about the increasing frequency of client conflict (an issue which emerged last week with the Weber Shandwick merger), with 74% of clients not very concerned, or not concerned at all about the prospect of sharing their agency with a competitor.

Client loyalty to one partner agency is on the rise - 41% of clients reported having an on-going relationship with one primary firm, a gain of 7% over last year. Just 15% of clients in this year's poll said they used other agencies for project work, a big decline on the 26% that owned up to the practice last year.

More good tidings emerged when clients were questioned about how they use their agencies. It appears that companies regard their agencies as business partners more than ever.

53% said they worked with agencies to design PR programs, with 24% asking their PR firms to proactively formulate campaigns.

It wasn't all sunny news for the agency world, however. Just 11% of clients lauded their agency's cultural diversity, with a lowly 15% describing their shop as 'exciting.'

PERCENT OF WORK ASSIGNED TO PR AGENCIES

                                            2000        1999      % Change

1. Media training                            66%         61%            5%

2. Proactive media relations                 58%         n/a           n/a

3. Graphic design                            58%         52%            4%

4. Primary research                          55%         50%            5%

5. Measurement of results                    51%         46%            5%

6. Consumer marketing                        48%         45%            3%

7. International PR                          46%         45%            1%

8. Secondary research                        44%         42%            2%

9. Response to media inquiries               43%         n/a           n/a

10. Online communications                    42%         31%           11%

Source: Harris/Impulse Client Survey





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