LONDON: WPP reported PR billings up about 15% for the first half of 2007, based on unaudited results that included $5.8 billion in total reportable revenue, up 12.3% from the year-earlier period.
Excluding acquisitions and currency fluctuations, totals revenues rose 5.3%. Operating profit totaled $653 million, up 13.9%.
WPP did not provide results for individual agencies, which include Burson-Marsteller, Hill & Knowlton, and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, among others, but said that PR and public affairs accounted for 10.8% of total revenue. Adjusted for changes in currency and excluding acquisitions, revenue from PR increased about 7.8%.
"Things like Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, and Second Life have all underlined and reconfirmed the importance of editorial publicity and the power of editorial publicity over paid-for publicity," said WPP chairman Sir Martin Sorrell in a teleconference. "So our PR business is growing at a rate we really haven't seen at this stage of this cycle before."
As for other communications services provided by the firm, branding and identity, healthcare, and specialist communications accounted for 27.9% of total revenue, up 4%; advertising and other media buying represented 46.5% of total revenue, up 0.7%; and research and consultancy accounted for 14.8%, down 1.6%.
Across all of the holding company's business areas, Sorrell identified several trends that are affecting WPP's businesses, including globalization and Americanization of markets around the world, rising Internet penetration, and the growing importance of internal communications.
Looking to 2008, WPP said that major events expected to help boost business include the Beijing Summer Olympics, political spending in advance of the US presidential election, and the Euro 2008 football championship in Austria and Switzerland.
However, in North America, WPP's largest market, Sorrell noted the threat of economic stagnation stemming from the US federal deficit and relatively weak dollar.